The not inconsiderable incentive for my previous and this sponsored post for Roomorama.com was a night in the kind of hotel that – the days of wooing Mrs. The Writing Baron long past – I’d never usually stump up for.
I pulled into Kandy late morning on a bus from Dambulla and was immediately waylayed by the irrepressible Captain Ratna (more of whom sometime soon). Our little chinwag concluded, I jumped a tuk-tuk up into the hills. The driver wanted 700 lkr, I beat him down to 500 lkr. With some pushing you should be able to get the 7km-ish trip back to the centre of town for 350 lkr.
In any event, my first driver probably earned his little tourist tax by stopping to let me insinuate myself onto the smartphone of a local vendor, when I realised I didn’t have the full address on my Roomorama printout. Trapped among the DVDs in a corner of his corner store, the latter individual was baffled into non-profit motivated acquiescence, and looked just as confused when, having driven a few minutes up the hill, we returned to pick up the same scrap of paper, sitting on the counter where I’d left it. I needed it to verify my booking code.
Interestingly, over drinks in town that night, an employee of another high-end establishment told me these hotels try to get you to take their favoured drivers for an exorbitantly marked-up price. But there was no such push by the staff at Rhandolee Luxury Resort, a hotel whose glorious location is surpassed perhaps only by the nearby Amaya Hills.
Actually, they were helpful and pleasantly unobtrusive. Doubtless gauging that I was a cheapskate of a magnitude not often seen in these parts, they immediately volunteered the information that it was cheaper for me to grab a ride at the bottom of the bumpy dirt track leading to the hotel.
Meanwhile, when I discovered that, true to form, I had absconded with my previous guesthouse’s keys, the duty manager had them couriered back to Dambulla for 200 lkr, sorting everything in a matter of minutes. Special mention also to the kitchen staff and chef the next morning for being particularity attentive.
I didn’t get a a room with a view – prostitutes can’t be choosers and all that, and the huge window in the corridor directly in front of my door half made up for it – but my dwelling was pristine, with a large flatscreen on the wall, two lovely firm single beds – neither of which saw that much use – pleasant enough décor, a free basket of fruit, a fantastic bathroom where I must have spent a good 10 minutes poncing around with my reflection in the intersection of the main mirror and the adjustable shaving one that jutted out of the corner of the room on an extendable arm.
After years of crappy chocolate choices in Taiwan, the red and black muscularity of the Mars Bar in the overpriced mini-bar was just too hard to resist, when I stumbled in to watch a replay of Chelsea beating Man City in bed.
One slight reproval would have to be disappointingly grubby balcony. The leaves on the on the main stretch were perhaps half excusable on account of the blustery conditions, but the grime round the corner was not.
Out front, the swimming pool on the very edge of the rise, looking out over the historic former capital, is inviting. It was just a bit too nippy while I was there.
Rhandolee is a nice place – perhaps not top of the pile – but definitely in the mix as luxury accomodation goes in Kandy. With rooms around the US$70-100 mark, depending on the time of year, it’s reasonable value for Sri Lanka. It’s also not a million miles from the botanical gardens and station at Peradeniya, which made my onward journey pretty convenient.
One slight con for some might be the trek to and from town. If you’re tuk-tuking, it could help to ensure the driver knows the place, as habitual bluffing over time, distance and location can lead to unjustified demands for compensation for the petrol wasted on wrong turns, overshoots and backtracks.