Kandy, Sri Lanka

Taylors Hill

Rates from (ex tax)$160.00

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 21 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (USD209.60), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.

Style

Just a spot of cool

Setting

Loolecondera’s heavenly hills

High in the mountains above Kandy, Taylors Hill hotel is a hidden gem, tucked away in a valley of rare beauty and sprawling tea plantations. This colonial-era country house has been given a new lease of life with an inspired refurbishment. Its mountain-view pool, immaculate lawns and five contemporary rooms welcome guests home after a day of exploring this slow-paced corner of Sri Lanka.

Smith Extra

Get this when you book through us:

A signature spa product made with Sri Lankan cinnamon or a selection of local teas from the neighbouring plantation

Facilities

Photos Taylors Hill facilities

Need to know

Rooms

Five.

Check–Out

11am. Earliest check-in, 2pm, but both are flexible, subject to availability.

Rates

Double rooms from $160.00, excluding tax at 31 per cent.

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 21 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (USD209.60), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.

More details

Rates include a full English breakfast with a choice of fruit, porridge or muesli, afternoon tea, and a three-course dinner. The full-board supplement is US$10 each, exclusive of tax and service (US$5 for under-10s).

Also

There’s no TV or phones in the room; instead, pass your time testing the rooms’ silky soft bedding and cinnamon-scented toiletries, both tailor-made in Sri Lanka for the hotel.

Please note

Any bookings over Christmas Day or New Year’s Eve will involve a compulsory afternoon tea and five-course dinner (including house cocktails; not including wines and spirits). This will be charged at a rate of $55 a person ($25 for under-10s; free for under-3s).

At the hotel

Three acres of gardens, croquet lawn, tennis court, badminton, snooker room, kids play room, television room with DVD library, bikes to borrow, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: bathrobes, free bottled water.

Our favourite rooms

Located on the hotel’s first floor, each of the five rooms takes its name from Sri Lanka’s tea-planting history. The largest, Pattigayama, has pale lemon yellow walls, a striking bed with four posters carved into tree shapes and the only bath tub in the house. With its draped four-poster bed and rococo vanity, Le Cocq has an air of French romance; all rooms are stylishly decked out with dark painted floors, bold patterned wallpaper and panelled ceilings.

Poolside

The hotel’s curvaceous pool sparkles on a raised stone terrace circled by luxuriant trees, a row of royal-blue sunloungers and its own little pool house. Float away in total serenity to the sound of chanting from nearby temples echoing around the rolling hills; at dawn, the morning mist rising around this scenic stretch of old-world Ceylon can be quite magical.

Packing tips

The hotel doesn’t sell alcohol, but staff will happily chill your own sundowner supplies and postprandial tipples. It can get cool in the mountains at night, so bring a light knit.

Also

Access through the gardens and the staircase to the rooms make the property difficult to navigate for disabled guests, although staff will help as much as possible.

Children

Welcome. A free cot for under-3s and extra beds (from US$45 a night excluding tax and service) are available. The chef will happily adapt meals to suit little palates; free babysitting can also be arranged with a day’s notice.

Food and Drink

Photos Taylors Hill food and drink

Top Table

The rooftop of the poolside cabana has front-row seats to the valley’s spectacular sunsets.

Dress Code

White cotton lawn will take you from a game of croquet to the lounge; change into something a little more tailored for dinner.

Hotel restaurant

Dark wood furniture, damask wallpaper and tapestry-covered chairs give the dining room an elegant old-world feel. The fields around Kandy grow the country’s freshest, most varied produce, expertly put to use at Taylors Hill in tempting Asian-British fusion fare. You’ll find cinnamon-flavoured pork, mango salsa and beetroot curry on the daily-changing menu, alongside more traditional roast chicken and eton mess. Take afternoon tea in the sun room or in the gardens; home-baked cakes and biscuits are best savoured with a perfect cup of local tea.

Hotel bar

There’s no bar, but pick a spot anywhere in the grounds and sip on a fresh juice or smoothie made from mango, passion fruit, papaya or pineapple.

Last orders

Breakfast is served 7.30am–10.30am; lunch 12 noon–2pm; dinner 7–10pm. Linger with drinks over a game of snooker until 11pm.

Room service

None.

Location

Photos Taylors Hill location
Address
Taylors Hill
Pattiyagama Estate, Deltota
Kandy
Kandy
Sri Lanka

Planes

International flights touch down at Colombo’s Bandaranayake International Airport, a four-hour drive away. Operated by Cinnamon Air, sea plane transfers to Kandy’s Polgolla Reservoir take just 25 minutes; from there it’s an hour’s drive to Taylors Hill.

Trains

The nearest station is Peradeniya, an hour’s drive away, served by trains from Sri Lanka Railways and Expo Rail. The journey takes three hours and can get very busy, so if you’re not keen on experiencing this colourful transportation mode, driving’s your best option.

Automobiles

Negotiating Sri Lanka’s chaotic roads can be fraught work; most visitors wisely opt for a car with a driver. Avoid driving up or down the mountain at night as the roads are narrow, steep and dark; if your flight lands late, consider spending the night in Colombo or Kandy. The hotel has accommodation for drivers – arrange this when booking.

Other

There’s a helicopter landing field a kilometre away, for which you’ll need permits well in advance.

Worth getting out of bed for

Give in to the languid pace of life in the high country: no eyelids would be batted should you simply choose to spend a few quiet days indulging in genteel pastimes in the hotel’s grounds. Games of croquet, tennis and badminton provide just enough exertion for a rewarding dip in the pool. Borrow a bike or set out on foot to explore the countryside and tea plantations on your doorstep; staff will happily pack a picnic for you. Loolecondera Estate, where James Taylor planted the seedlings of Sri Lanka’s tea industry, is just a 10-minute drive away; take a tour of the historic factory and sample the fine tea leaves that are still harvested there. Nearby Taylor’s Seat has sweeping views over the valleys and mountains; it’s said the pioneering plantation master would retreat here for solitary reflection (and the occasional tryst). An hour’s drive away, Kandy – a Unesco World Heritage Site – makes an intriguing daytrip; explore the Buddhist Temple of the Tooth and Peradeniya’s perfectly trimmed botanical gardens.

Local cafés

The Empire Café (+94 (0)81 223 9870) makes a pleasant pit stop in Kandy. Located right by the temple, it’s a bright, inviting space with tall rattan chairs serving lunches, smoothies, home-made ice-creams and sorbets.

Reviews

Photos Taylors Hill reviews

Anonymous review

One minor engine breakdown, two major wrong turns and an extra three hours added to our journey: a little later than planned, our taxi pulls into the driveway at Kandy-set boutique hotel Taylors Hill in the pitch black. To say that Mr Smith and I are happy to arrive would be a grave understatement.

Despite our tardy entrance the staff greet us with warm and genuine smiles and the most delicious supper. The dining room strikes that perfect but rare balance of feeling both grand and snug at the same time; it impresses, but with a casualness that makes us feel instantly at home.

Taylors Hill is an English country house reimagined amid Kandy’s tropical greenery; mid-century furniture sits on parquet floors beside custom-made wallpapers, contemporary art adorns the walls and plush cushions dress the sofas.

We devour our midnight feast and clamber up the stairs to our room – the hotel’s largest – dubbed Pattigayama. Our enormous colonial-style bedroom is decked out in bright rugs, eye-catching antiques and there’s a four-poster bed with trees carved into the frame; within their ornate boughs, we slumber like sloths.

The silver lining to our late-night adventure off the beaten track is the excitement of waking up to the most spectacular sun-drenched view of Sri Lanka’s timeless tea country. Having travelled up from the palm-lined shores, white sands and turquoise waters of the south coast, the lush bucolic panorama before us is a reminder of the country’s rich contrasts.

A leisurely pre-breakfast meander around the former tea planter’s mansion takes us past tennis courts, a croquet lawn, infinity pool and even a snooker room. Sipping tea in the immaculate garden with the sprawling country pile behind us, I can’t help but feel a sense of familiarity – it’s no wonder that parts of the Hill Country are known as Little England. Over platters of tropical fruit, fresh juices and eggs royale, the brilliance of the sun’s glare reminds us we are far from home.

The appeal of spending a lazy day by the pool is hard to resist, but it would be churlish to come this far into the hills – where James Taylor first sowed the seeds of Sri Lanka’s tea industry – and not learn a little about our homeland’s favourite drink. We meet Sajith, our trusty guide for the day, and are soon swinging around hairpin bends in a four-wheel drive, winding up the steep hillside, deep into the tea plantation.

The further up into the mountains we go, the further back in time we travel. Our tour of the functioning tea factory, built in 1872, is fascinating and made all the better by the fact there’s not another tourist in sight. Onwards and upwards we drive, past gatherings of tea pickers in their rainbow-coloured saris with burgeoning bags of tea leaves by their side. After a heart-stopping drive up the final hill, we take a pit-stop at James Taylor’s Seat, where the pioneer used to rest and look out over his empire and the first tea bush he planted. With such a breathtaking panorama, we can see why he parked himself here.

We arrive back at the ranch just in time for afternoon tea; seemingly never-ending platters piled with sweet treats are placed before us. We savour the tea with fresh enthusiasm now that we appreciate the intricate process of farming it (until we are distracted by the resident monkey lurking in the tree ahead of us, that is).  

After a while, we graduate from tea to G&Ts; the hotel’s expansive gardens are the perfect setting for genteel sipping, or swooshing about in white linen while reflecting on bygone eras if the mood takes you. Mr Smith and I are doing the former, when we feel a few heavy raindrops and scuttle inside to the lounge. By the time dinner is served a dramatic display of thunder and lightening is in full swing outside the window. On the way up to bed we clock the row of wellies and raincoats tucked under the staircase and fear our holiday sunshine has ended.

Come morning we open the blinds with a sense of trepidation but are relieved to find there’s no trace of the storm and not a cloud in the sky, ideal conditions to enjoy that lazy day by the pool. We time our sunlounger-nabbing impeccably; we have the whole deck to ourselves, there are just five rooms at the hotel and the grounds are so big that we barely see another guest.

We bask in the sunshine as the pitch-perfect staff tend to our every whim; in no time at all, our batteries are well and truly recharged. Three days in, we’re still completely mesmerised by the view; green mountain summits loom over the temple-dotted hills. We don’t want to leave but are grateful for the colourful memories of old-world Ceylon that we’ll take home with us – those, and the suitcase full of tea…

The Guestbook

Whenever you book a stay at a Smith Hotel with us, we’ll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in Taylors Hill’s Guestbook below.

We loved

Stunning views, the staff, the food and the Arak Sours!

Don’t expect

Lively nights although it should be noted that they do serve alcohol now. The hotel is in the middle of a tea plantation that is great to explore but that does mean over an hours drive into Kandy.

Rating

Stayed on 10 Mar 2017

We loved

The lazy days at the estate with afternoon tea. The surrounding countryside is beautiful. The tea factory tour through the colonial era facilities and up to James Taylor's seat was gorgeous.

Rating

Stayed on 5 Jan 2017

We loved

Great food and attentive service, it felt like we were staying at a good friend's house who kept spoiling us every day!

Don’t expect

It takes about 5-6 hours to get to Taylor's Hill from Colombo airport and about 1.5 hours from Kandy. We didn't expect the journey will take so long, but was still worth it!

Rating

Stayed on 1 Dec 2015

We loved

Everything. The service, food and beautiful house make this place such a dream. And the Empire Cafe in Kandy is a great spot for lunch after a day exploring.

Rating

Stayed on 29 Sep 2015

We loved

Everything about this hotel. The tranquility, the excellent appointments, the food and the wonderful staff.

Don’t expect

Lively nights.

Rating

Stayed on 24 Sep 2015

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