I didn’t go with the intention of writing an Ella Planter’s Bungalow review. When I am staying as a travel journalist I can’t always fully relax. Throughout my trip in Sri Lanka I booked some hotels with no intention of writing about them so I could switch off.
Ella Planter’s Bungalow was one of them, but I was so impressed and left so in love I simply had to!
The bungalow, from which the Ella Planter’s Bungalow was founded, is located on the southern fringes of a tea plantation area established in the late 19th century during the colonial period. The garden and grounds are home to a rare collection of tropical fruit trees with incredible views of the hills all around.
Ella Planter’s Bungalow was originally constructed in the late 19th century by a Scottish tea planter, Malcolm George. He left in 1948 when the newly independent government of Ceylon nationalised the tea industry. He was paid one pound sterling for each acre of his 90 hectare estate and now it is a stunningly elegant resort.
We stayed in the original building, where the décor remains traditional and adds to the lovely experience. There are, however, new buildings as well which are a little more luxurious with balconies.
In the gardens there is a pool with hammocks and deckchairs all around. The food is incredible and you can go on your hikes from here, they’ll even arrange a guide if you want one.
It cost 1,000 LKR (£4.70/$6.50) to get to Ella Planter’s Bungalow from the town, which is double what we paid for a tuk tuk journey anywhere else in the whole country, but you pass Ravana Falls on your way. If you ask your driver to stop he will, but probably best to give him a little extra as a thank you.
Don’t worry too much about this, because the hotel can arrange a trip to a nearby waterfall where nobody else will be. For 1,500 LKR (£7/$10), a man picked us up in a tuk tuk and took us down a steep slope through the forest to an incredible waterfall with a pool of water all around that you could swim in.
At first I felt a little awkward to strip off into my swimwear (I wish I’d worn a one-piece). So I decided to be direct and ask him if he would be offended and he said it was fine.
You can go on all the excursions Ella has to offer from Planter’s Bungalow, or just chill out and relax in the gardens by the pool. You might even spot some monkeys in the trees, we saw some black langur monkeys!
For breakfast they bring you fresh fruit juice, tea, coffee, a fruit platter, eggs, bread and even traditional egg hoppers.
TIP: If you like your eggs well done (even just the whites), then tell them straight away. They had to completely remake ours and I felt bad!
The dinner menu was wonderful and this was the first place where I had a Sri Lankan curry. It is described in the singular because you choose one curry, but it then comes with five small vegetable dishes as well as rice and it is quite the feast! This was the best I had across the whole country so it is definitely worth staying in for a night. (Sorry for the low quality photo, #cameraproblems).
On the menu they also have things like tuna steaks, chicken breast or kievs, Singapore fried noodles and biriyani. It is very well priced as well for a hotel restaurant, dishes range from 600 LKR (£3/$4) and 1,200 LKR (£6/$8).
I absolutely loved it here. From the vintage buildings and décor, to the food and gorgeous gardens – and I haven’t even mentioned how spectacular the staff were. I often stay in hotels for free in return for a review and I can tell they always go that extra mile to make sure I enjoy my stay. This is how the service felt at Ella Planter’s Bungalow – but I wasn’t there to review. The staff were simply that wonderful, attentive and friendly.
For more information about Ella Planter’s Bungalow visit plantersbungalow.com.