Nestled amongst the leaves in the tallest hills in Sri Lanka lies the small but beautiful town of Ella. Described as “everyone’s favourite hill town” by the Lonely Planet, it’s easy to see why. This is a town that’s firmly on everyone’s itinerary – whether you stay for one night or a week, there’s something about Ella that makes you want to linger.
It’s a small but thriving town, opening its doors to a huge range of opportunity. From here you can hike some incredible walking trails, visit ancient tea plantations and attend a number of cooking classes. It’s one of those towns that’s touristy enough to satisfy a need for western food after weeks of rice and curry, but not too “in your face” with its catering to foreigners.
Our only qualm was where to stay – with increasing options for a town growing in popularity by the minute, we were spoilt for choice!
The Ella Alpine Resort only opened a few months ago so some tuk tuk drivers don’t yet know where it is. However, it’s very easy to find – just head up Waterfall Road until you see the sign for it! It’s about a 15 minute walk from the hustle and bustle of the main street, but feels much further away than that as you’re tucked away amongst the leaves…
Hopping out of the tuk tuk, we were greeted with a welcoming smile from Rohan, who led us down the staircase to the hotel. We were distracted, though… that view!
Each room at the Ella Alpine Resort looks out onto the beautiful greenery of the hills – with Little Adam’s Peak taking the centre stage. Currently there are only three rooms available to book, but this will expand to six in the next few months. Each room has its own private porch with a table and chairs and a bench, so you can sit back, relax and enjoy the sunshine.
After leaving our bags in our room, we chatted to Rohan and Sheyamalie, the owners of the Ella Alpine Resort. They are a couple who moved to Ella from Colombo, realising they can’t set up this business remotely. Customer service is clearly important to them both, as they want to be around on site so they can build a relationship with their guests and are first at hand if ever needed. We talked about our lives, our travels, and they gave us some great advice on spots not to miss in Sri Lanka.
Our room was the “Gold Room” – with two twin beds that make one huge double when pushed together. There’s a desk to work at, a clothes rack for your belongings, and of course amenities such as towels are provided. We appreciated having a kettle in the room and enjoyed a cuppa on arrival. The small details like the complimentary bottles of water and adaptor plug didn’t go amiss. There isn’t any air conditioning, but you really don’t need it in Ella as the nights can get quite cool – the fan is enough during the day.
The ensuite bathroom is large with both a bath and overhead shower and it has a huge window looking out towards the greenery. The idea is that you can shower whilst looking at the view, but there’s a curtain for when you want a little more privacy. The room needs this window to allow the light in; the opposite wall faces a corridor.
Sitting on the bed, I noticed I could see the trees on my left, outside the room, and to my right was the reflection of the greenery in the bathroom window. It retains that feeling of being surrounded by nature – a unique way to bring the nature inside the room.
Besides the three bedrooms with their ensuite bathrooms, the rest of the hotel is still under construction, with plans to be completed within the next few months. The bottom floor has three rooms and there will be three more on the level above. The top floor, with its pillars already in place, will be the hotel’s restaurant. Construction is done during the daytime while guests are out exploring the sights of Ella so as not to disturb them.
I can imagine the restaurant already, with warm lighting, wooden tables and soft jazz music playing, while eating delicious homemade Sri Lankan dishes and gazing out at the hills. Perhaps that’s not the route they’ll take with the restaurant but it’s how I’m picturing it in my head! Whilst the construction is happening, only breakfast is being served; eventually this will branch out into three full meals once the restaurant is completed.
Waking up the next morning, breakfast was a good spread of fruit, toast with jam and vegetable omelettes. To drink, we had a cup of tea and a delicious papaya juice. Something I love about Sri Lanka is their fruit juices; it’s none of that processed stuff – just 100% pure fruit which is whizzed up in a juicer and then poured into your glass. Delicious! We were advised that non-vegetarian options are also available.
Even whilst unfinished, the Ella Alpine Resort is a pleasant place to stay, but the hotel has a little way to go. Rohan advised us he’s looking to install a glass screen on the bath to stop water from the shower going all over the floor. A small bottle of bubble bath would be a nice touch to ensure guests can make the most of the bathtub. Since Ella gets quite chilly at night, extra blankets would be appreciated.
I am a firm believer that the hosts can make or break a place. Sheyamalie and Rohan have given up their lives in Colombo to ensure they are onsite full time to overview the project (which Rohan has taken full charge of), and to personally meet and greet their customers and be at hand in any case. They know how to run a hotel. Although work is still taking place at the Ella Alpine Resort, it’s clear that this is a hotel with huge potential.
Head over to www.ellaalpineresort.com to book your stay.
Thanks for reading & happy travels,
Thank you very much to Rohan, Sheyamalie and Roshane for organising our stay at the Ella Alpine Resort on 25th March 2017. We received a discounted rate in return for providing a blog post and coverage on Spin the Windrose’s social media channels about our stay. All opinions are my honest views based on our experience.
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