Thotalagala Plantation House Haputale, Sri Lanka – Review by Telegraph UKBy gfhoteltest on Monday, February 5th, 2018
Read the latest Review by Telegraph UK on Thotalagala.
In the southeastern corner of Hill Country, Thotalagala’s off the beaten track location affords an air of authentic rural life, with locals’ dwellings and vegetable gardens dotted around, and smiles and waves from all as you stroll past. Five miles north-east of Haputale, it balances on the edge of an escarpment on the Dambatenne tea estate bought and planted by Sir Thomas Lipton, one of the towering figures in the history of Ceylon’s tea industry.
A visit here means a step back to the turn of the century, for you can tour his 1890 gem of a factory, hike up to panoramic Lipton’s Seat and take tea in the garden of Lipton’s own, unchanged bungalow, now occupied by the current estate manager. From the hotel and its infinity pool, the far reaching view of lakes and rounded hills is magnificent.
Style & character
Its great asset is that the simple yet handsome black and white pebbledash house feels authentic, its layout unchanged since it was built in the early 20th century, with original features such as fireplaces and panelling and furniture that is in keeping with its colonial past. There are two sitting rooms, both with fireplaces, one panelled and snug, the other formal.
At first, the place feels staid and even forbidding, but its magic grows on its guests, who soon mingle over drinks, drawn together by Claire Holman, the warm, chatty hostess, and by the beauty of the surroundings. Much of Thotalaga’s life happens outside on the terrace, making the most of the view.
Service & facilities
Step back in time to the colonial era. The seven suites are divided between the original house and the seamless new wing. None have the view, but they are spacious and very comfortable, their white walls decorated with oil paintings and prints, plus cream rugs on polished wood floors, period and reproduction dark wood furniture, including wardrobes and big desks with reading lights, and four-poster beds.
Bathrooms have black and white tiled floors and free standing baths as well as powerful showers. A sense of dignity and memories of a more gracious age pervade.
Food & drink
There is no menu – the butler proposes dishes, and if they don’t suit (unlikely) he will suggest something else. One evening you may eat curry with paratha roti, the next roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. Whichever, dishes are simply but carefully prepared and breakfasts, with fruit plates, delicious home made breads and pastries (there is a pastry chef here) and cooked dishes to order, is a feast, invariably served on the terrace at separate tables.
Dinner is served in the somewhat unatmospheric dining room at an imposing communal table, though you can eat separately if you prefer.
See the full review on telegraph.co.uk