Bandarawela might not be as rich in tea leaves as its Hill Country pals, but it was still the second most important hill station under the Brits who singled out its cool yet dry climate as the perfect place to convalesce. Today, it’s her lush hilly hinterland that draws the cooing crowds. Perched at an altitude of over 1,200m, Bandarawela’s fresh climate is literally made for lumbering outdoors. Discover its delights by hiking up Poonagala Hill to stake out tea estates, paddy fields and wooded jungle glens.
Remnants of the British colonialists are fewer in Bandarawela than in neighbouring Nuwara Eliya but the town still manages to evoke a certain nostalgia of its own. The Bandarawela Hotel – a fusty yet atmospheric abode on the edge of town – is its colonial chieftain, since it began life as a cushy clubhouse back in 1893. If you fancy a peek, time it with High Tea so you can snatch a sneaky snoop inside as you sip Ceylon’s finest on the lawn. The Cargill’s building and Post Office opposite the hotel also ooze character since they too date back over 100 years.
The 16th century Bogoda Bridge close to Bandarawela is thought to be the oldest surviving wooden bridge in the world.
An Insider's Perspective
Rodney Arnoldi and his Sri Lankan partner ran an antique furniture business in London for over 30 years. Following the closure of the business, Bandarawela in the central hills was chosen as a good location to establish The Dutch House, a beautiful three-bedroomed boutique hotel.
What is your favourite part of the area?
Lipton's Seat with its beautiful scenery.
What is your favourite activity?
Planning the gardens surrounding the Dutch House-Bandarawela.
What is your favourite restaurant?
Well, there is only one place that is reasonable and that is the Bandarawela Hotel. I have enjoyed meals there on occasion.
Don't try and pack too much in on your holiday and stay a minimum of 2 nights in each hotel.
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Miguel Cunat is a Partner of Sri Lanka In Style founded in 2005 to provide visitors with insightful, engaging experiences in his adopted homeland. Recognized by Conde Nast Traveler as Sri Lanka’s Top Travel Specialist, and recently featured on Wendy Perrin’s WOW List.