If, for some reason, you could stay at only one hotel or resort in all of Sri Lanka, this would be the one. It’s smack dab in the middle of the Cultural Triangle, making it a perfect home base for exploring the island’s historical sites. Or, if you’d rather just relax and stare at beautiful scenery in all directions, well… it’s pretty great for that, too!
Location & Grounds
The Heritance is within an easy drive of Sigiriya, the Dambulla Cave Temple and the ruins of Polonnaruwa. The only trouble you’ll have getting there is the narrow, sometimes-unpaved path in from the main road. Once you arrive you’ll see that it’s totally worth it. Like a proper resort you don’t have to line up at the front desk to check-in; you’re led to a terrace with a stunning vista, offered a hot towel and drink, and then check-in comes to you.
As a lakefront property The building maximizes views by being more wide than tall; as such it was maybe a five-minute leisurely stroll from the lobby and restaurants to our room. The corridor was open but covered—it’s a pleasant walk with lots to look at, but the distance may be a nuisance if you’ve forgotten something in your room.
Our tour operator had us booked in a standard (“Superior”) room, but we received a complimentary upgrade to a corner (“Panoramic”) suite, with a partial view of the Kandalama Reservoir. There was plenty of room for two people and their luggage; the bed was firm but comfortable; the bathroom clean and with modern fixtures. Our television set may have been a bit on the small side, but if you’re coming here to watch TV then you’re doing it wrong—at the very least you risk missing the parade of monkeys across your balcony at dawn!
Even if you have a driver I’d recommend booking a stay with at least a half board meal plan (breakfast and dinner) so as to enjoy the many and varied delights of the buffets in the main dining hall. Just about anything you could possibly desire is on offer here, and it’s all delicious—especially the curries. As an added bonus they served a decent cup of coffee at breakfast as well.
And breakfast is the meal where you’ll probably want to linger, for the stunning views as the morning sun shines bathes the reservoir in its golden light. You might even catch a glimpse of an elephant or two…
My one regret about our stay at the Heritance Kandalama is that we didn’t stay longer. As our first big stop on a 10-day whirlwind tour of Sri Lanka, it set an almost impossibly-high standard for the hotels and resorts to follow.
Book your stay here: Heritance Kandalama Hotel