Horathapola, a tranquil colonial style planter's bungalow of great charm, is a perfect first stop for those seeking a peaceful haven after a long flight to Sri Lanka. One customer termed it `jet-lag heaven', praising `a beautiful house and faultless service.' Situated on a working estate where coconut, mango, pineapple and spices are grown, this four-bedroom British planter's bungalow that was built in the 1920's. The estate is now owned by Javana Fernando, who also owns Kulu Safaris. Javana lives on the estate and adds a friendly but efficient air to this wonderful holiday retreat. Spacious rooms furnished with ancestral Dutch period furniture, wide balconies and verandas, well-clipped lawns scattered with beautiful hardwood trees and ample bird song all combine to show guests the planter's lifestyle at its finest.
There are three large suites and one two-bedroom family suite, all with ensuite bathrooms with h/w showers and twin vanities, as well as two separate family lodges nearby. Suites in the main house and one of the lodges are not air-conditioned, but this is rarely a problem as ceiling fans, high roofs and large doors and windows provide welcome compensation. The suites offer a striking degree of privacy and are blessed with a wide balcony or veranda. Antique almairahs and four-poster beds lined with handmade lace and fitted with mosquito nets make the interiors comfortable and elegant. There are no televisions in the rooms, but in this tranquil atmosphere nobody has been known to complain.
Maha Camare (Main Room): An upstairs room with large open balcony overlooking the pool and attractive gardens beyond. Recommended for honeymooners, not least for its gigantic 7ft x 7ft 6ins bed.
Maedae Camare (Middle room): Highly recommended. Also upstairs, this room doubles up as a family suite with the Podi Camare. It has two beds, one double and one single, so can also operate as a twin as well as a double. The veranda overlooks a beautiful tropical garden.
Podi Camare (Small Room): Never sold on its own. A queen-sized bed, veranda and a good bathroom, slightly smaller than that on the Maedae Camare.
Watte Camare (Garden Room): A triple room on the ground-floor which sits on the edge of beautiful expansive gardens. Contains a double bed and single bed: can operate as a double or triple, or even a family room if an extra bed is added.
Family Lodge: An independent, two-bedroomed lodge close to the main house, accessed through its own small gate and shielded by greenery. One large bedroom and one small, both of which have sit-out verandas and a balcony that can be used for a private dinner. The lodge has its own kitchenette with a cooker and fridge: if the urge arises to self-cater, staff will happily shop on request.
The main living and dining areas open out to the extensive lush green gardens and an excellent, slim 50 ft swimming pool with a Jacuzzi on the side. The Sri Lankan rice and curries served at Horathapola, cooked in traditional clay pots over a firewood flame, are prepared with ingredients grown on the estate according to guests’ spice preference and are mouth-wateringly delicious. As the owner is a wildlife enthusiast who operates Kulu Safaris, the extensive library on Sri Lanka's natural habitats, heritage and culture is no surprise.
Why We Like It
Complimentary bullock cart rides through the estate are an added touch in a delightful plantation house that also works as an airport stopover.
Horathapola Estate is hidden within a vast green coconut belt of Sri Lanka's Western province – an idyllic rural paradise a touch over an hour north east of Colombo’s airport.