The Ashburnham - or Ash to those in the know - is a restored, single-storey planter’s home high in the hills above Kandy. In this truly remote location, the air is pure and the nights are silent. It offers respite for everyone. With just a few rooms, it feels like a large home rather than a hotel, and the small number of guests means you often find yourself striking up conversation or sharing a few drinks with like-minded travellers.
Inside, it’s an unusual mixture of styles, but it all works. Lounging on the sofa by the fire (nights here can get a little chilly) is a lovely place to be. As it’s still a working tea estate, most of the 100 acres are dedicated to cultivation, but they’ve made room for a pool and even a jungle tennis court. The food is a hybrid of Sri Lankan and English-style cuisine, and the views out over the Knuckles mountains are breathtaking. This is very much a place to relax, but when the mood takes you there are some high-quality hillside adventures to be had.
An hour north east of Kandy, perched on a lush hillside, this elegant tea plantation retreat is easily accessible from the city, but feels far more remote.
Old-school style pool
Wild tennis court
No alcohol licence
Perfect for families
It was significantly cooler, which put everyone in a good mood. I think we could have spent days and days there.
Discover what to expect from staying at Ashburnham Estate
The road to the Ashburnham is long, narrow, slow, and forever ascending, then all of a sudden you see the house: a rambling, old, pastel-coloured English bungalow with enormous trees encroaching in, and the staff ready to greet you. You might be forgiven for thinking you are in a leafy part of Surrey, but only for a moment! The hotel immediately feels homely and very casual, as if you’ve arrived at a friend's place for the weekend. The hosts are always welcoming and often recommend that guests get changed straight away to go for a swim in the nearby waterfall pool - the water is bracing but it feels good after the long car journey!
The atmosphere at the Ash is ideal for reading, contemplation and snoozing, all the while keeping your earphones in to give the mountain vistas a cinematic soundtrack. Take a dip in the pool when the mood allows, or even a wild swim at the cascade pool. Mr Dassanayake, the estate manager, is often on hand to give you an introduction to the difficult tea picking technique, as you have a go alongside the patient local workers! Perhaps the nicest experience is the half-day walk up to the cloud forest and lake with a naturalist guide.
All the staff are local and travel up daily by tuk tuk from the town. Even the excellent naturalists are from the local village.
If you’ve still got it, prove it. And if you never had it (like us) then just sit back enjoy the show