If you love visiting and staying in hotels built during the British Colonial era, a great stop is The Grand Hotel in Nuwara Eliya. The hotel is situated about a mile above sea level in Sri Lanka’s Hill Country, in the heart of the tea-plantations and fields of vegetables. The Grand Hotel was built in the style of an Elizabethan-era manor house.
Nuwara Eliya was a popular vacation destination for the British and Scottish citizens who took care of the Empire’s business in Sri Lanka during the 19th century, so much so that the region was fondly known as “Little England”. Much of Sri Lanka is steamy hot year round, but the cool days and nights in the mountains reminded the English of life back home. Besides the Grand Hotel, there are lovely parks, an old golf course, and even a horse racing oval in Nuwara Eliya.
The original building, a one story structure, was built in 1828 as a private residence. In the 1890s a second floor was added and in the 1930s there was further expansion and remodeling, including the mock Tudor facade. In the 1990s the Archeology Department of Sri Lanka labeled the Grand Hotel as a ‘National Heritage Property’.
I’ve stayed at the Grand Hotel three times during my travels to Sri Lanka. I’d hoped to stay there again during my last visit but the hotel was ‘sold out’ when I was passing through (because of the Sri Lankan New Year’s holiday). The cool climate in the mountains helped preserve the hotel and its amenities, which extend from its elegant bar to large spacious sitting rooms. There’s a billiards room and there even used to be a “cigar” room, although I’m not sure that one is still around.
The hotel has a lovely garden, carefully manicured and very reminiscent of those you see in England. The dining room is excellent and I’ve enjoyed many fine meals here. Take a look at some of what was offered during the dinner buffet.
A friend of mine, who is a biographer, told me after a visit to the Grand Hotel that if he was going to write another book, this would be the place in which he’d do it. Says a lot about a hotel that makes you feel comfortable enough to call it home for several months.
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