Hill Country - 4 :
Colonial Hotels in Nuwara Eliya - Grand Hotel and Hill Club (Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka)

When man is far away, he/she has a longing for the hometown. The reason why British who came to Sri Lanka “discovered” Nuwara Eliya would be because its climate and landscape was similar to England. After having found their hometown anew, the next was construction of a familiar house. That way, British who came there in the 19th century had built mansions in their way. However, as a mansion seems to be their-homeland-like, attachment to it in a foreign land diffuses sadness .

Now, some of them remain as a colonial hotel and attract tourists to the town. The Grand Hotel and the Hill Club are the representative. Both stand next to each other at the foot of the west hill. Around this area, a rich forest resembling a coniferous tree continues and makes an impression as taking stroll through the European highlands.

The Grand Hotel was opened in 1891. Originally it was a villa of Sri Lankan Governor General Sir Edward Burns, built in the middle of the 19th century. The Tudor style-like exterior appearance seems to be an unlikely pseudo-British style. The unstilted air matches to the summer resort of Sri Lanka.

The interior that was kept beautifully seems to get lost in a historical movie. The plaster of the ceiling, the crescent of the wall, the carpet of the passageway still remain grace of the once mansion. The place where a guest was first introduced is a octagonal hall in the center. Here, a guest take check-in while receiving tea service. In contrast with other classical spaces, this hall is geometric and modern. It would be the expansion in the 20th century?

The Hill Club was built in 1876 as a mansion of an English coffee farmer who had had become homesick. It is a hotel that anyone can stay now, but until 1970 it was used as a club dedicated to British men and Sri Lankans and women were forbidden to enter.

Beyond the gate is a lawn slope. It synchronizes with the lawn in the golf course on the opposite side. When going up meandering the slope a mansion like a manor house of the lake area in England appears. Because of a freezing rain and the dark weather, it air was even emphasized.

On the right side of a small entrance like a house is a large library. A caramel brown-colored floorboard, shining black beams, a solid sofa, a writing desk, a bookshelf ... the names of the succession of club representatives in the plate on the wall ... a number of match’s trophies on the shelf. It is the place where a guest can feel most the time that this architecture has accumulated.

In the south wing are a dining room and a salon. Dinner, that had been famous for punctuality and dress code like colonial era, was less strict than a rumor. That would be because times changed ?

After dinner, we were guided to the salon at the tea time. I had forgotten that I was staying in Sri Lanaka when I was drowsy in comfort. The British farmers might also have soaked in England in a dream like me and have beguiled the tedium.

Well, at which one should you stay? .

For those who prefer complete amenity goods and facilities, the Grand Hotel is highly recommended. As a result, it becomes popularized meanwhile a guest room which was renovated comfortably looses the remains of time.

Even though furnishings are not perfect and breakfast is the authentic British style, the Hill Club offers taste of colonial time. The floorboard of a guest room is polished away so much that the foot would not get dirty even if working barefoot. The best is the suite as the reputation.

Whichever you choose, staying at both hotels would be a definite opportunity to follow a remnant of those days in Nuwara Eliya where the genuine colonial air is going to disappear.

To Japanese Version

Google Maps

Within the walking distance of downtown Kandy.



Lonely Planet Guide 'Sri Lanka' (Lonely Planet Publication, 2006)

2007.12 Photos in English version, and photos and text in Japanese version

2018.01 Change of photos and English text

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Grand Hotel (1891)

Hill Club (1876)

Photo by Daigo Ishii