The Kandy House

Gunnepana, Near Kandy, Kandy & Hill Country, Sri Lanka Book from Book from £170 per night

Striking historic manor house outside Kandy, converted into a small luxury boutique hotel with an 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 was 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, friendly hosts and personal butlers, 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.

Highs

  • Still Kandy's finest boutique hotel
  • 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)
  • The mature botanical gardens that surround the hotel attracts all sorts of colourful birdlife and butterflies
  • Every room has a personal butler who will arrange excursions and onward travel

Lows

  • Only accepts children over 12 years old
  • The temple nearby has now purchased speakers so on holy days the noise of chanting may carry
  • Mozzies are around at dusk, but 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 all the mod cons (including TVs) - a plus for some
  • 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...

Honeymoon
  • 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
Room:

Rooms

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 spacious Peacock Royal and Red Spot Duke, which both open onto the wide veranda surrounding the outside of the house. We stayed in the latter, and loved having afternoon tea and cakes on our veranda while watching the birds and butterflies. There's also 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.

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

Eating

Guests can dine in style in the colonial dining room or on the less formal veranda overlooking the garden and hill country. For a more romantic setting, dine à deux in a romantic poolside gazebo.

Breakfast, served whenever you like, is a tasty selection of fresh juice, fruit, porridge, granola with treacle, 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.

Every evening, there is a set daily menu limited to a choice of 2 starters, 2 main courses and a dessert. We began with chili calamari and watermelon salad, followed by pork wrapped in crispy bacon, and completed with a zingy passionfruit tart. Any lack of choice is made up for by the quality and freshness of the ingredients, which are selected by the chef every morning. Special dishes can also be arranged to cater for particular dietary needs.

The Kandy House also hosts 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.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • 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; ask the staff for 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

Kids

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:

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 3 independent reviews from i-escape guests

10/10
Room
10/10
Food
10/10
Service
10/10
Value
10/10
Overall

A beautiful boutique hotel with stunning gardens, lovely swimming pool and fantastic and friendly service. I would recommend this hotel to anyone.

10/10,

We spent two nights here for our honeymoon. Excellent service, gorgeous pool area and rooms and nice and quiet throughout. Stunning garden with fairy lights draped in the trees at night - very romantic! Had both evening meals in the hotel and the food was excellent (definitely some of the best we had in Sri Lanka). Definitely recommend staying!)

10/10,

Newly married, my wife and I immediately recognised this as the best hotel experience of our trip and indeed our lives. Our personal butler did everything for us with a smile and expecting nothing but for us to have a great time. The whole team were fantastic and we loved every second. They gracefully floated in and out of our lives providing and exacting service with no detail overlooked. We cannot rate this hotel higher. Can't wait to celebrate our anniversary here.

10/10,

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Rates for The Kandy House