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“Serendipity” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Sir John's Bungalow

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Sir John's Bungalow
Riverstone Road, Matale, Sri Lanka   |  
Hotel amenities
Certificate of Excellence 2014
Bristol
1 review
“Serendipity”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 24, 2012

Not one to usually enjoy a "relaxing" trip upcountry, when suggested by a friend I grudgingly accepted only to be pleasantly surprised by the whole experience of it all!

The location was fantastic with views overlooking the mountain range. The bungalow itself surpassed my expectations with a lovely homey feel with wooden floors and spacious dining room with a fireplace. The rooms were lovely with windows opening out to a spectacular view. The bathrooms, well maintained (though one of the bathtubs needs to be repainted) and clean with a lovely stone floor.

Food was delicious - Sri Lankan as requested.
We received excellent service from the staff working there. All were extremely helpful, specially as the bungalow is solar powered and charging five phones at once was a bit of a task, but they managed to get the job done!

Since we went during the drought season, the area wasn't as misty as supposed to be, and luckily for us that translated to a clear night and an amazing view of the stars (and also no leeches!) Lying under the thousands of stars was truly an amazing experience.

The trek we took from the nearby village was around 3 hours and well worth it when you reach the "pool" within the river at the midway point.

I will most definitely try and come back to attempt the 7 hour trek! But the trip was a beautiful experience.

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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50 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (16)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
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English first
Colombo
Top Contributor
255 reviews 255 reviews
64 hotel reviews
Reviews in 69 cities Reviews in 69 cities
304 helpful votes 304 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 7, 2012

We stayed at Sir John's Bungalow for 2 nights. The drive up to the bungalow was quite an experience. It was warm and nothing compared to what I read on the net. However, as soon as we reached Riversten (derived from having to Reverse & Turn to maneuver the bends!) the climate change dramatically in seconds. It was damp, misty and beautiful! We could hardly see the VHF Towers and aborted mission to climb up! Finding the bungalow was not hard, but remember not to over shoot the mark (29th Mile Post I think) as its hard to turn back on the roads as they are very narrow and have thick plants on either side. Tennakoon and the other house boys were very helpful and kind. Sampath doubled up as our guide to Manigala - a 16Km trek for which we paid him 2000 LKR. Worth every minute if you are fit enough for a long long walk in possible rainy weather! It took at least 7 hours, but for those who trek regularly its a 3-4 hour trek! Sir John's has wooden floors and a working fire place which was a lovely touch. The linen seemed damp to the touch due to the mist, but once you get into bed, this is not a problem. The toilets are clean and well appointed. Loved the stone effect on the floors. The Bungalow depends on Solar Power therefore the lights could be a bit dim. Dinner was under candle light! The food was very good - simple and tasty. The cook was keen to please us and asked us at every meal what we would like to have at the next! We drove through, and didnt get down at Patawala Pathana/ Worlds End as it was raining. Sera Ella (waterfalls) is about 12Kms away and we drove there the next day. If you travel in a car, you would have to park near a cause way and walk about 2Km to the falls.

Note about Manigala Trail (which we did in Feb) - be prepared for loads of leeches during the trek. Wear leech proof socks and boots or slippers. You will have to cross over many small streams so, hold on to the footwear, as one of us lost a slipper in a stream and had to buy a used pair of slippers from a villager! The bungalow will organise a pick nick lunch. Take plenty of water, as you are bound to be thirsty. Make sure when the weather is right for you....I personally would love the terraced paddy fields to be green and the streams to be with water. A guide is a must.

We will definitely return to Sir John's.

Room Tip: We heard that there were suites with bath tubs and TV/DVD Players, but were not shown the rooms, bu...
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  • Stayed February 2012, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Sir John's Bungalow

Address: Riverstone Road, Matale, Sri Lanka
Location: Sri Lanka > Central Province > Matale
Amenities:
Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly )
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 6 Specialty Lodging in Matale
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 5
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Offering sweeping vistas of the North Eastern Knuckles mountain range, an area that is celebrated for its striking peaks, pristine waterways, bewitching cloud forests, and diverse flora and fauna, Sir John’s Bungalow is situated at the threshold of a land before time.Built by the British during the colonial era as a residence for the Superintendent of the 1,300 acre Laggala tea estate, the Bungalow was once the holiday home of Sir John Kotalawala, the third Prime Minister of Sri Lanka. As the area is within the Knuckles conservation zone tea cultivation was abandoned thirty years ago allowing the jungle to reclaim its bounty.The planter's misfortune has thus become a dream come true for trekkers, wildlife enthusiasts, and all seekers of the sublime. During the dry months of June to September, elephants from the plains of the nearby Wasgamuwa National Park roam the estate in search of water and food. Wild buffaloes are in abundance, with leopards and fishing cats making occasional nocturnal visits, and the sounds of the timid barking deer echoing in the surrounding forest.Committed to an ethos of environmentally sustainable hospitality, Sir John’s Bungalow is carbon-neutral, harnessing solar energy for electricity and recycling all waste matter. ---------------------------------AccommodationTastefully appointed with modern conveniences, Sir John’s Bungalow also retains its old-world charms and comforts, including roaring fireplaces in the living and dining rooms. All bedrooms feature king-sized beds, elegant teak floors, and attached bathrooms with hot water showers. Both the Riverstone suite and Sir John's suite have four-legged cast iron bathtubs that can be filled for a long, relaxing soak. ... more   less 
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