The Kandy House

Gunnepana, Near Kandy, Kandy & Hill Country, Sri Lanka Book from

Reviewed by Kate Parsons
Striking historic manor house outside Kandy, converted into a small luxury boutique hotel with infinity pool
It may sound like a sweet shop, but it's actually the former home of an aristocratic Sri Lankan family. After a sensitive and stylish restoration, The Kandy House opened in 2005 as the region's first (and much needed) high-end boutique hotel. Set within a 6-acre estate on a forested hillside just a few miles from the ancient city of Kandy, it's a quiet, luxurious place to spend a few days near Sri Lanka's cultural capital.

From the outside it's an impressive building, striking in its simplicity with white arches, pillared verandas and rooms set around a central courtyard. Inside, it's comfortably furnished with Dutch colonial antiques, sepia photographs, hand-woven silks and claw-foot baths. Peace and quiet abound, broken only by Buddhist chanting from a nearby monastery and the colourful parrots that dart from tree to tree.

With just 9 calm, elegant bedrooms and friendly, efficient hosts, you'll be well looked after. Explore the lush jungle gardens, spot birds and butterflies, and cool down in the large infinity-edge pool overlooking the surrounding paddy fields. Take a tuk-tuk into Kandy to visit the botanical gardens and the famous Temple of the Tooth (the hotel's English-speaking staff can assist you with your plans) and return for afternoon tea or a cocktail and dinner on the veranda.


  • Still Kandy's finest boutique hotel, after all these years
  • Incredibly peaceful location away from the hustle and bustle of Kandy's congested centre
  • Beautiful freshwater infinity pool overlooking vibrant paddy fields and the jungle (many small hotels in Kandy don't have a pool)
  • Friendly, efficient managers who can arrange excursions and onward travel


  • Only accepts children over 12 years old (although this will be considered a plus by some)
  • The temple nearby has now purchased speakers so on holy days the noise of chanting may carry
  • Mosquitoes can be a real problem at certain times - however you will find a natural repellent in your room and mosquito nets on the bed (but no screens on the windows)
  • Rooms don't come with TVs or phones
  • It's a 20-minute drive into town to find restaurants

Best time to go

Any time of year - the average afternoon temperature ranges from about 28C-35C but generally hottest in March/April. The wettest months are October and November. Come in July/August for Sri Lanka's most important festival, Esala Perahara, with its spectacular evening processions (dates vary each year).

Our top tips

Indulge in a head and neck massage to iron out all those aches and pains. The bar also features a fabulous range of house vodkas in a dazzling array of flavours. Popular with honeymooners are the candlelit dinners for two on the veranda.

Great for...

  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 9
  • Breakfast (+ other meals on request)
  • Over 12s welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service


Named after the butterflies that flutter through the grounds, the rooms differ in size and outlook, though most have large four-poster beds with soft white linen, colourful cushions and Victorian bathtubs (except Pioneer and Monkey Puzzle, which have showers only). Dark hardwood floorboards hint at the past, white-washed walls create a light and airy feel, and polished concrete in the bathrooms adds a contemporary touch.

The largest are the 4 Ultra Rooms. These include the spacious Peacock Royal and Red Spot Duke, which open onto the wide veranda surrounding the outside of the house, and the beautiful Black Rajah Garden Suite, with a private massage area and octagonal double bath set in the middle of the room. When booked together with the small adjoining twin room (Monkey Puzzle), it's ideal for families with older children.

We stayed in the romantic Indian Admiral, with a cooling breeze wafting through the windows and beautiful views over the gardens. Ask the staff to arrange an aromatherapy bath complete with frangipani blossom, although for the less romantic there is also a separate rain shower. We particularly enjoyed breakfast on our veranda and the helpful inclusion of a natural mosquito repellent.

The 5 slightly cheaper Deluxe Rooms are set around the large 2-storey central courtyard. Of these, Monkey Puzzle and Pioneer (a turquoise-hued room with its own swing seat in the garden) have twin beds, while Sunbeam, Lime Butterfly and Cornelian have double beds. These rooms are a bit smaller, darker and less secluded than the Ultras, so on balance we'd recommend paying the extra for the bigger rooms - assuming budget and availability allow, of course.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • Mosquito net
  • Safe box
  • Terrace
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet


Guests can dine in style in the colonial dining room or on the less formal veranda overlooking the garden and hill country. Take a pre-dinner cocktail in the Butterfly Bar (i-escape guests receive their first one on the house), or choose something from the short but sweet wine list.

There is a set daily menu limited to one starter, a choice of 2 main courses (perhaps tamarind prawns, grilled Thai chicken with lime rice or ravioli stuffed with jackfruit seeds and water spinach) and a dessert (such as sticky citrus pie or guava upside-down cake). Any lack of choice is made up for by the quality and freshness of the ingredients, which are selected by the French chef every morning. Special dishes can also be arranged to cater for particular dietary needs.

On our second night, we tucked into one of The Kandy House's twice-weekly Sri Lankan curry feasts. With 10 different dishes followed by fresh mango and homemade kulfi (a kind of ice cream), it was memorable for the delicious array of flavours such as okra, ginger and even hibiscus.

Breakfast, served whenever you like, is a tasty selection of fresh juice, fruit, curd and treacle or eggs, hoppers and toast.

Picnics can be arranged for lunchtime if you are out and about; alternatively there is a small snack menu of sandwiches, spring rolls and a special salad of the day.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu


  • The hotel is a short drive from the ancient lakeside city of Kandy, Sri Lanka's cultural and religious heart. Visit the Temple of the Tooth, stroll around the nearby Botanical Gardens, or follow your nose into the hills, past tea plantations, old colonial mansions, paddy fields and temples

  • Book early if you want to experience Sri Lanka's most important festival (and one of the most famous in Asia), the Kandy Esala Perahera, a spectacular 10-day event in July/August

  • Golf can be arranged (the Victoria Golf Club is one of the finest in Asia); so can bicycle tours and elephant rides

  • Yoga classes can be arranged the hotel can provide details of yoga retreats

  • A nearby hotel offers its tennis courts to Kandy House guests
  • Further afield (2 hours north by car), you can climb the famous Sigiriya rock; and don’t miss Dambulla for its magnificent Golden Temple - 157 incredible statues of Buddha and imperious ancient wall paintings - which has been a sacred site for pilgrims for over 2000 years and is Sri Lanka’s largest and best-preserved cave temple

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Carom
  • Croquet/Cricket
  • Cycling
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Hot air ballooning
  • Museums / galleries
  • Painting
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Traditional cultures
  • Yoga


Children over the age of 12 are welcome. An ideal room for families is Monkey Puzzle, which has twin beds and adjoins with the Black Rajah. The Indian Admiral and Cornelian rooms are also next to each other but do not connect, as are the Peacock and Redspot Duke rooms.

If you have just one child, an extra bed can be added to Indian Admiral and the Black Rajah, but if you have 2 or more, the managers prefer children to take their own room.

Best for:

Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Extra Beds Available

Kid Friendly:

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