Built in 1823, Kandy House is a glorious reinterpretation of a former royal residence. Once the home of Sri Lanka’s last king, now a boutique heritage hotel, this is a place for hiding out in high style. The only unannounced visitors are wild deer, shyly threading their way through the garden at dawn. It’s less garden, more park, six acres of tropical foliage, edged with paddy fields and a jumble of jungle.
In contrast, antiques and art line the main building, centred around a charming courtyard, and fill the spacious rooms. Local wood, local art and textiles are a motif in every room, as are four-poster beds. Most have wide verandas, none feature televisions or minibars – all is escapism instead. The faultless and friendly service adds to this, as does the evening menu. Ten courses of local specialities are a highlight here, gastronomic adventures combining Sri Lankan classics with a contemporary edge. Before the daily feast, pre-dinner drinks are served in the garden, where an ancient and immense tree presides, all lit up for the evening.
The sizeable pool lies beside the jungle, with views of the rice fields alongside. It’s rather beautiful, with palm trees for whispering shade and loungers aplenty. The spa is a small affair, but offers seriously indulgent treatments, as befits a grand old house.