If I had unlimited funds and no ties and could just drop everything at work and flit away, I would go back to Sri Lanka. I’m not one for going to the same place twice, especially when I have a travel hit list as long as both my arms, but there’s something special about Sri Lanka. After hitting 16 destinations over the past two years, this was my favourite, and It’ll take some beating.
I went with four friends, and while we did a mixture of trekking, hostels and floating about looking for random accommodation, BUT we did treat ourselves to one luxury part of the trip- and OH MY was it worth it. If you’re after something tropical, jaw-droppingly beautiful and largely untouched and authentic, this is for you. I had the time of my life here. Not kidding. Even thinking about it now makes me feel all tingly.
After many evenings spent reading up on which part of the trip to splash out on, Ella (Or Eliya Nuwara) became the obvious choice. There are a few things to consider if you’re going to do it- how to get there, what hotel to stay in and what to fill the days with. It isn’t on the coast, so if you want to witness Sri Lanka’s wicked coastline, don’t spend your full trip there, but it’s essential you go.
So first things first- YOU HAVE TO GET THE TRAIN TO ELLA. Like, this is one of the most amazing experiences I’ve had travel wise, and it’s touted as the most scenic train journey in the world. It’s pretty obvious why once you reach Kandy (yes, that’s a real place name) and look out over the tea fields. The equivalent of £13 will buy you a first class ticket from Colombo, including meals and unlimited tea and coffee, and while you’re in for a long day (7-10 hours, they don’t really do fixed times in Sri Lanka), it’s worth it. The views are amazing. Like standard green, lush Asia x 1000.
Now once you get there, which if you train it will probably be in the dark, you need to make sure you’re checking into Ravana Heights boutique Hotel. While this isn’t some sort of champagne serving, sparkling spa hotel with Egyptian cotton sheets, it’s luxury for Sri Lanka and it has a little treat for you- this view from bed:
Probably my favourite part of this place was rolling out of bed every morning to fresh coffee, fruit salad and banana pancakes with this view:
We stayed in the suite, complete with enormous walk-in shower, big comfy beds, fancy vanity area, big balcony overlooking the valley and a private entrance. We were pretty nakered after we rolled up to reception (by tuk tuk, 5 mins from the station) and were met with fresh lime juices, cake and flowers. The owner of the guest house is eccentric and full of tips and ideas of what you should do during your stay- he set us up with a trip to parts of Ella we wouldn’t have gone off our own backs, and we ended up walking through clouds, learning to drive tuk tuks and doing yoga on a mountain side. Standard Tuesday.
Ella is a tiny little town and you couldn’t really find anywhere more chilled. The local food is mostly curry and roti (the best roti EVER from Roti Hut FYI) and there are a few nice bars and cafes. We had dinner one night in Ravana Heights, after the owners offered to cook for us, and it was insane. A Thai-Sri Lankan fusion feast complete with various curries, vegetable dishes, soups and puddings.
The guest house also has an outdoor area where you can sit in the evenings, with tea, coffee and cake, and watch storms roll over or the sun set. Watching lightning cross over the mountain with candles and a book from that terrace is probably the most relaxed I’ve ever been.
Oh and if you do go to Ella, you can also trek up Ella rock, (take trainers, water and many snacks) and get a photo like this:
If you want to go all out luxury or just squeeze in a few rather beautiful, comfy days during a backpacking trip, get to Ella and get to Ravana Heights. This isn’t a sponsored post or anything- I just want to spread the love. I want other people to go and eat the thai fusion food and admire the view.