A bit of a way from Nuwara Eliya, along a beautiful train ride through the mountains of Sri Lanka’s ‘Hill Country’, is the town of Ella. Once a bit of a secret to the crowds, Ella today is a bustling tourist hub of the foreigner, and the occasional Sri Lankan tourist too. It seemed like a place with a bit of a buzz, so I thought I’d take a chance to see what it all was about – and more importantly I wanted to take that train ride.
It shocked me. It wasn’t pleasant, it was a real tourist trap! So many restaurants and guesthouses – the food is quite nice there I will grant you but I was eating at this huge multi-level place for foreigners without a spare table in sight – and there hotels and guesthouses are overpriced and popping up as you watch. I’ll be doing a post on Ella in the next few weeks anyway.
I pre-booked online and paid a smidge under $50AUD for a single room at the Grand Peak Hotel. Location-wise, it was 500 or so metres from the centre of town down a busy dirt road with a lot of places to stay.
These days $50 in Sri Lanka is barely mid-range when you’re looking for your own room. If I’d gone 15 years ago my daily budget would have been less. I’d stayed in a really nice place – The Treven Hotel – in Nuwara Eliya the previous few nights for a little bit more, but Nuwara Eliya is big and a great base for the entire hill country, I had reason to expect that Ella would represent better value for money.
But what I got was a real budget room. Limited wall sockets for starters which in 2018, with devices to charge, is always a disappointment. The room was to one side, it sort of was stuck in a corner away from the larger rooms. The bathroom thusly was triangle in shape, with the toilet tucked around the corner. The shower was a bit rubbish, it heated water as you went but there was no real flow from the shower head.
There was a mosquito net on the bed, but wrong time of year (thankfully) for mosquitoes and it was unneeded. The floor was tiled, the bed was okay, amenities were limited. The bathroom in particular wasn’t clean, fly-wired windows all around the room and bathroom weren’t a neat touch. Noise from next door and the families staying in other rooms impacted my sleep.
There was an okay breakfast, standard fare with toast and eggs and jam and a couple of Sri Lanka options which is typical in Sri Lanka, and the management was friendly and helpful, but there were frequent times when they simply weren’t anywhere to be found.
It wasn’t a ‘bad’ hotel, it wasn’t ‘dirty’ as such, but for the price, I just felt that what I got compared to my expectations after seeing the photos online, reading ratings and reviews and for the price I paid, was very disappointing. Again, the manager was a lovely kind man who tried to help me with whatever information/help I needed.
Value for Money: 1/5
Thanks for reading, May the Journey Never End!