I couldn’t wait to write the review for this hotel when we arrived in cool Nuwara Eliya after that scenic but rather challenging train ride from Colombo. I know I’ll have so much to say and because I don’t (more of can’t) really blog while on the road, my Moleskine diary is filled with notes about this hotel.
So glad I finally got the time to publish the review and share these photos has come.
Our trip to Sri Lanka entailed a lot of research. It’s our first time in this country and while we had friends in Colombo to take us around and guide us through the city, we did not know anyone in the Sri Lankan highland retreat of Nuwara Eliya. We read guide books, online hotel reviews. When you’re traveling with children, you just tend to become more…cautious and probably over think everything.
And by “you”, I mean “me”.
Sri Lanka is a pretty diverse country where you can enjoy the city, the beach and the mountains and because we just came back from our wonderful beach holiday at The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi Resort in the Maldives, it was time to see the mountains.
We picked to stay at Jetwing St. Andrews for two nights because of the good reviews online. Since we traveled by train, we had to stop at the nearest station which is Nanu Oya. We hired a private van arranged by the hotel (it’s a third party service and we paid Rs. 1500) that picked us up from Nanu Oya and drove us to the hotel. The travel time was about 30 minutes.
It was rainy and misty as we arrived at Jetwing St. Andrews, a colonial Tudor style mansion that sits at 6,182 feet (1,884 meters) above sea level cradled amidst the mist covered mountains.
This place looks nothing like tropical Sri Lanka you know or have seen in the photos. First, it was really cold. I never thought I’d be able to blurt out the word “cold” in Sri Lanka. There are signs all over the place like this – for budget travelers looking to stay with the basic necessity: hot water.
Confession: All I wanted to do while in Nuwara Eliya was soak in either hot water or under the warm blanket!
The check-in process was fast and smooth and we were guided in the newer wing of the property, on the second floor. We were upgraded to a Suite Room (yay!) and couldn’t be any happier since the bed is bigger (we co-sleep with an active toddler) and they also arranged an extra bed for our tween.
We loved this bed so much and had a very restful sleep especially after that very long and tiring seven hour train ride from Colombo. So charming, isn’t it?
Other photos of our room:
WHAT WE LOVE ABOUT THIS HOTEL:
1. Beautiful colonial property
The hotel is an old colonial building that was built in the latter part of the 19th century. However, the bedroom we occupied was spacious, modern, clean and opened onto the beautiful gardens.
By the way, there is an old billiard room inside the hotel that is more than a hundred years old.
2. Very pretty hotel grounds
The hotel was like an old English mansion in big manicured grounds. Each room offers a view of the distant mountains and lush vegetation-clad hills.
3. Wooden floor rooms
There’s something about wooden floors that gives that warmth, cozy feeling. And warm and cozy is what you would want in a cold place like Nuwara Eliya.
4. Great fireplace
It’s hard to believe you’re still in Sri Lanka with the vast climate difference between the capital city of Colombo and hill county Nuwara Eliya.
Sitting by the fireplace in the hotel lobby enjoying the misty evenings was one of the highlights of our stay here. However, the fireplace can get really crowded. We attempted so many times before we had the sofa to ourselves, for only a very short time.
5. Very near to the city center (see the clouds touching the mountains!)
It is very easy to wander into town and have a look at some of the shops, colonial style buildings and the botanical garden. The Victoria Park is very near (another post in another time).
6. There is WiFi in the room
7. Food was good.
A great selection of breakfast is served very early from 7 am and what I really LOVED about it was you can opt for “breakfast to go”. We needed to leave very early after checkout so it was difficult to drag the sleepy kids to the restaurant, let alone let them eat. The staff offered breakfast to go boxes where I get to choose the food and they carefully wrapped the parcel to take with us to our car.
Dinner option is buffet or ala carte. Dinner served international cuisine with live cooking stations but with a variety of Sri Lankan food options too.
There are no elevators in this colonial estate. So you might want to consider it when you have heavy luggage or strollers for smaller children – the staff are more than happy and helpful to carry those things for you but I suppose when the hotel is busy at peak season, that could take some time to reach your room(?).
The hotel can arrange for guided nature trail walks and other outdoor activities but unfortunately, we didn’t go to any and just walked to the nearest Victoria Park (another post, another time). We were feeling so cold, because we were under-dressed – of course our fault for not listening to what all the other are saying before we embarked on this journey: “it’s cold up there!”
I was almost tempted to buy one of these winter jackets at the city center.
Like many places in Sri Lanka, the staff attentiveness and their assistance with the children was exemplary. If you want to stay at a heritage hotel which also offers all modern conveniences, choose Jetwing St. Andrews at Nuwara Eliya.
Jetwing St. Andrews
No. 10 St. Andrews Drive, Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka
Tel: + 94 52 2223031
We stayed as guests at Jetwing St. Andrews. However, all opinions in this review are mine. For more information about this hotel, please visit the official website.