Hill Country, Sri Lanka

Camellia Hills

Rates per night from$385.00

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 60 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (USD385.00), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.

Style

Tea room

Setting

Top of the lake

Tea-country hideaway Camellia Hills is a modern antidote to the more colonially minded retreats of Sri Lanka’s Central Highlands. With just five rooms, the bungalow will be yours to call home – with a private butler as a bonus, who’ll set up afternoon tea wherever you’d like to take it (who said British rule was all bad?) Chances are your location of choice will have a sensational backdrop, thanks to the hotel’s impossibly photogenic perch – a series of plantation fields, Castlereagh Lake and its islands, and low-lying cloud forests make the scenery spectacular.

Smith Extra

Get this when you book through us:

A 90-minute Sri Lankan cooking class for two

Facilities

Photos Camellia Hills facilities

Need to know

Rooms

Five.

Check–Out

Noon, but flexible for a fee, subject to availability. Earliest check-in: 2pm, also flexible.

Rates

Double rooms from $385.00, excluding tax at 21.1 per cent.

More details

Rates are usually full board.

Also

You won’t find a TV in your bedroom, but if you really can’t forgo the rolling news, there’s a communal one for guests to watch in the lounge.

At the hotel

Free WiFi throughout, car park, bicycles to borrow, board games. In rooms: tea and coffee kit, free bottled water.

Our favourite rooms

There are only five and each has reason to be given props: whether it’s the terrace and French doors in Warleigh, the lake and hill views (plus bath tub) in Osbourne, or the connecting opportunities and extra bed for families in Dickoya.

Poolside

The plantation-flanked infinity pool overlooks the lake, for an entirely blue and green vista. There are a handful of loungers and a shaded ambalama (a place constructed for pilgrims and travellers to rest).

Packing tips

The British imperialists just loved the cooler climes of the Hill Country, but make sure you’re braced for a breeze with some warm clothing.

Also

The hotel isn’t easily navigable for wheelchair users.

Children

All ages are welcome. An extra bed (US$30 a night) and cot (free) can be added to all rooms if booked in advance. A food supplement applies daily for each child (US$60 for three to 15 year olds; US$95 for over-16s). The restaurant has a dedicated menu.

Eco‐friendly

The hotel has a vegetable and herb patch.

Food and Drink

Photos Camellia Hills food and drink

Top Table

Out on one of the wicker chairs, taking in the view while the fire warms you up.

Dress Code

Don something evening-breeze-proof.

Hotel restaurant

The wooden-floored and -beamed dining room is a cosy space with just a handful of tables – there’s also an open-air terrace with a wall of windows for maximum lake views. The food keeps on coming around here – the rates include breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner, not to mention a series of drinks whenever you want them. European options are available, but you’d be a fool to miss out on the Sri Lankan classics; the lentil dhal and roti is simple but superb.

Hotel bar

There’s no formal bar, but drinks are available in the dining room and on the terrace all day.

Last orders

The dining room is open from 7am until 10.30pm.

Room service

Peckish but can't leave the pillow? Order nibbles to your room – problem solved.

Location

Photos Camellia Hills location
Address
Camellia Hills
Dunkeld Estate
Dickoya
Sri Lanka

You’ll find Camellia Hills in Sri Lanka’s Castlereagh Valley, in the centre of the island and east of capital Colombo.

Planes

Colombo’s international airport is only be 130 kilometres away but the drive will take around five hours. (Hotel transfers can be arranged.)

Trains

The closest rail station is in Hatton, with services from Kandy, Nanuoya and Bandarawela, among others. It’s an hour away by car.

Automobiles

The easiest way to get around Sri Lanka is to hire a local driver, who’ll be less alarmed when a cow, rickshaw and moped all appear in your lane at the same time. The final stretch of the road is the sort of condition that makes driving particularly adventurous – arrange in advance for the hotel to pick you up (free) if your driver doesn't have a vehicle hardy enough to tackle it. (There’s a car park at Camellia Hills for the brave.)

Other

Cinnamon Air can deposit you at the hotel via seaplane, or just take you on a scenic flight if you fancy.

Worth getting out of bed for

You’re in the heart of Sri Lanka’s tea country, where lush green tea plantations give way to colonial churches, island-dotted lakes, waterfalls and forests. The hotel can lay on a lesson in the art of Sri Lankan cooking, as well as excursions to explore the spectacular local scenery. Active sorts should take on the trek up Adam’s Peak, a 2,243-metre-high conical mountain which has a sacred footprint rock formation thought to belong to Buddha. The islands of the Castlereagh Lake can be hopped between on a hotel-arranged boat trip. Natural wonders in the neighbourhood include the cloud forests of the Horton Plains national park, and the St Clair waterfalls. There are various tea plantations around, but Dunkeld Estate is probably the prettiest thanks to its elevation pushing 5,000 feet. Also winning photogenic prizes is Nuwara Eliya, which translates as ‘city on the plain’ – the landscape is one of the Central Highlands’ most spectacular. The colonial-era Warleigh Church was built in 1878 and wouldn’t look out of place in a quintessential English village.

Local restaurants

In Hatton, the Railway Lodge on Dimbula Road (right by the station, natch) serves huge platters of rice in a traditional setting – and there’s a tea boutique to stockpile some blends if you haven’t bought enough already.

Reviews

Photos Camellia Hills reviews

Anonymous review

Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this boutique hotel in Sri Lanka and unpacked their Ceylon blend and cinnamon, a full account of their tea-country break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Camellia Hills in the Castlereagh Valley

Even if you don’t love tea, there’s lots to love in Sri Lanka’s tea country. Camellia Hills is a boutique hotel five hours east of capital Colombo, the final leg of which is a trek along a dusty track. Once you’re here, though, the journey’s worth it. Back in colonial times, the British loved the Central Highlands, not just for their tea-growing potential, but for their calming breeze and cooler climate. Today, Camellia Hills’ modern bungalow puts paid to the stuffier luxury on offer elsewhere in the region. Instead, you’ll get charming staff (including a personal butler who’ll see to setting up afternoon tea wherever you want it), Golden Valley vistas, open fireplaces and huge lake-framing windows. Nearby, you’ll find the cloud forests of Horton Plains National Park and a the highest town on the island, Nuwara Eliya. But even if getting there’s adventure enough, you’ll find plenty to keep you happy: the five bedrooms have wooden floors, beamed ceilings and more lake views out on the terrace if you’ve chosen wisely. There’s even someone on hand to help track leopards for you. Pull up a cosy chair and have the butler put the kettle on…

The Guestbook

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