The hillside town of Nuwara Eliya is something a little special in Sri Lanka. Lakes and cool weather, a gateway to the area, a wonderful train ride there and further afield. And the Hotel Travene, where I stayed there back in late March, is also something special.
The English have a long tradition of trying to create bits of their home country in all the places they go. And it’s not always a good thing. But this isn’t a piece discussing the merits and failures of colonialism, it’s a review on a hotel in Sri Lanka! So anyways, this historic house, now a hotel, is a pretty special place to stay, and quite unique too.
It does feel quite a bit like a home. It’s mostly wooden, which is pretty rare in that part of the world. I had a room which had a fire place in it – although I suspect most rooms do there. They offered to light it for me, and it does dip low at night in that part of Sri Lanka, well under 10 degrees Celsius at night, but it still wasn’t quite cold enough to warrant a fire, and more to the point a fire doesn’t have a thermostat, it would have mostly likely gotten too hot. On the other hand, getting up for a wee in the middle of the night, boy was it fresh! And it may get colder in December or January too.
The staff are very very helpful. They can help with tours and transport, as well as laundry and any other tips or advice you might need. They are very friendly about it too, and you feel like they care rather than just doing their jobs.
The house is rather grand, and there’s a living room with a huge TV (also there was a TV in the bedroom). What is great these days are the TVs in even the cheaper places you might visit. Back 15 years ago I probably wouldn’t have even turned them on, however in 2018 most have USB jacks and I travel with a few videos to watch as I like to get back to my room early most nights (that’s because I’m getting old) and I can catch up on series that I’ve been meaning to watch at home but haven’t had the time. And that’s what I could do here.
There’s a dining room too. It has a few old tables, and they serve dinner every night (and a decent buffet breakfast every morning). Most nights it’s exactly the same – Roast Chicken in a BBQ sauce with vegetables and fresh fruit for desert. And there was soup too – pumpkin if I remember right. I was told by the staff that this was what was most popular. It was a nice change. There are a few choices in town, although the eating is nowhere near as good as in Galle, and it’s cold and the rain can come in fast. It was nice to have this option at the hotel for a very reasonable 1300 Sri Lankan Rupees, a little over $10 AUD.
The house then has a sort of… well it’s a long room with windows to the house on one side, windows looking out the nice garden on the other. A pleasant spot, as is the garden, to relax and unwind. You can buy beer at the hotel also.
I really liked the place, although it was old and a little creaky in places, and I guess could have been cleaner. That didn’t matter. The bathroom was a little… white. Like a hospital I guess, cold with lots of space. But the hot water was pretty awesome. I mean, there was a certain character to the whole joint which I really liked. Outwardly a LITTLE grand, but inside homely and not in anyway pretentious. And there were a number of families staying there too, and they seemed to like it so good for all comers. The only negative was that sound from other rooms and parts of the building carried no matter where you really were.
When I was there, they were completing a new building out the front and a little down the hill. This didn’t appear to have much woodwork, but it will be more modern and probably warmer. But if I was to go back I wouldn’t definitely want to stay in the old house. I loved my stay here!
Value for Money : 3.5 /5
Service/Friendliness: 5 /5
Noise: 2.5 /5
Thanks for reading, May the Journey Never End!