Villa Rosa

Kandy & Hill Country, Sri Lanka Book from

Reviewed by Laila Ram
A relaxing alternative to Kandy's large hotels, this small and family-friendly hideaway has simple but stylish rooms and sublime views
You’re on top of a mountain here, with lush views over forested hills and the Mahaweli river snaking through the valley below. Wander around the landscaped gardens and come across a viewing place, where you’ll stand rooted to the spot; there are chairs for those who wish to linger. And you're just a short ride from Kandy, the hill-country capital, with all its culture, sights, shopping and the inevitable tour groups.

Villa Rosa has a slightly Moorish feel, with myriad tiled roofs cascading down on each other and big, fat tropical leaves climbing up to meet them. There is a sense of peace, with doorways that frame views and windows that gorge on mountain-top light. Inside, all is bright and airy with creamy walls, wooden floors, cushioned sofas and the odd roof open to the rafters. After a long day sightseeing, head out to the terrace for a sundowner or pop over to a nearby hotel and fall into the pool.

Highs

  • There are fantastic views (and spectacular sunsets), yet you're close to the centre of Kandy
  • The feel is relaxed, friendly and private, in contrast to most other Kandy hotels
  • Delicious dinners on the terrace, watching lights twinkle across the valley as you eat
  • The hands-on owner, Volker, makes your stay special and his personal guided trips come highly recommended
  • Friendly and welcoming staff

Lows

  • There's no swimming pool, but you can swim at a nearby hotel free of charge (they'll even take you there in a trishaw)
  • This place feels informal (more like a private house than a hotel) and this is reflected in the service
  • Recent feedback has suggested that the rooms, while clean, are a little tired - though they are being refurbished one by one

Best time to go

Any time of year. The average temperature ranges from 28-35C but is 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

Try your hand at cooking a Sri Lankan curry under instruction from the chef, who offers informal cookery classes.

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
Family
Wedding
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 8
  • Breakfast (+ other meals on request)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Yoga area
Room: Deluxe Room (River View)

Rooms

The spotlessly clean rooms are spread across the main house and a separate building. The cool mountain air usually ensures a good night’s sleep, and you'll find comfy beds, good black and white tiled bathrooms and loads of space. Rooms in the main house have fabulous views over the distant mountains; the views from the separate building are less striking, but you can still look out over forested hills.

The large Deluxe Rooms have double beds, bathtubs and showers; there's also a smaller Standard Room which is ideal for solo travellers or couples on a budget. Most rooms have a private terrace or a balcony, so you can snooze by day and stargaze at night; early risers can watch the sun come up.

For romantics, the Honeymoon Suite has a huge rooftop garden with alfresco tub. There are also Family Suites, each offering a room with a kingsize bed, an adjoining room with a queensize bed, and a bathroom with a bath and separate shower.

Features include:

  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Internet access
  • Internet access
  • Mosquito net
  • Terrace
  • Terrace
  • WiFi

Eating

You can have breakfast wherever you want: in your room, on your balcony, on the terrace or down by the viewing platform. The mostly Western menu includes fresh fruit and cereals, breads, toast, jams, marmalade, cold meats and a cheese plate; you can have pancakes or Sri Lankan hoppers, too. Good coffee is served in cafetieres - a rarity in Sri Lanka, where instant coffee is the norm.

In the evenings, the chef comes out to talk you through the menu and take your order, then disappears and cooks your dinner (from 7.30pm) exactly how you want it. You can choose from hot curries, mild seafood dishes, pasta and fresh salads, as well as 5-course European or Sri Lankan menus. We chose the Sri Lankan option and enjoyed a series of very tasty curries with rice, poppadoms and onion and coconut sambals, served as we watched lights sparkling in the valley below.

Snacks (sandwiches, salads and soups) are available on request, and packed lunches can be provided for day trips. There's also a range of aperitifs - best enjoyed on the terrace as the sun sinks beneath the hills.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Cooking classes
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Explore the sights of Kandy, including the botanical gardens and the famous Temple of the Tooth. The friendly staff will whisk you down the hill into town, then bring you back up at the end of the day (the hotel has its own trishaw)

  • Volker arranges personal guided tours of Kandy and the surrounding countryside. They're highly recommended, and ensure that you leave with a deeper understanding of Sri Lanka and its people

  • Golf can be arranged, and the area is good for bicycle tours, elephant rides and boat trips on the river

  • Follow your nose into the hills, past tea plantations, old colonial mansions, paddy fields and temples

  • Head to Sigiriya Rock (60km to the north) - an ancient hill fortress and palace

  • Don’t miss Dambulla for its magnificent Golden Temple, with 157 incredible statues of Buddha and imperious ancient wall paintings, which has been a sacred site for pilgrims for over 2,000 years

  • Polonnaruwa (80km away) is the country’s 13th-century capital. It's a long drive, but well worth the effort for its ruined temples, palaces and rock carvings

  • Back at Villa Rosa, relax with a massage, hot oil
    treatment or steam bath in the Ayurveda pavilion (available from 5pm; must be booked in advance)

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Boat trips
  • Cooking classes
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Private guided tours
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Yoga

Kids

Children of all ages are welcome and the staff are incredibly warm. Even the chef has been known to come out and play ping-pong with the kids. Extra beds, babysitting and baby cots are all available on request.

Best for:

Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

The Family Suites have spacious accommodation over 2 bedrooms, with 1 kingsize bed and 1 queensize bed. Extra beds and cots can also be added to all other rooms.

Babysitting:

Babysitting is available by arrangement.

Baby equipment:

Baby cots are available on request.

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

9/
Rooms
9/
Food
10/
Service
9/
Value
9/
Overall

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