When the Icelandic Volcanic Ash Cloud of April 2010 left us stranded at the Asian Jewel, we were not exactly distraught about the situation; we realised by then that we really couldn't have found a better place in the world to be stranded. And, this is not just due to the luxurious, detailed rooms, top quality food and great surroundings (which are all superb), but more due the overall sense of superlative comfort and belonging that Dale and Tanya have managed to create. When you are first greeted by Tanya, Dale and all the staff after your 3.5 hour road trip from the airport, you can perhaps be forgiven for thinking that all the hugs, hand shaking and overall pampering is a bit too good to be true or even a bit over the top; but it doesn't take you very long to realise that this is all very genuine, and Dale and Tanya are actually genuinely very pleased to have you be part of their life for a few days and looking forward to you experiencing their wonderful hotel.
At 5 rooms, this is not a large hotel, but this really works in everyone's favour, as you really do get to feel part of the whole place, whether that's sharing a few beers with the other guests, playing scrabble with Tanya (watch her, she's good) or chatting with Dale as he gives you some very useful advise and assistance in planning excursions and trips to local restaurants etc, and generally helping you make the most of your stay.
So anyhow, here are our comments:
* ROOMS: Excellent all round, very clean and spacious, great beds and bathrooms and wonderfully decorated to high standards and levels of detail in appropriate Asian themes.
* LOCATION: Not on the beach, but about a mile inland overlooking a fantastic lake. Its in a peaceful setting accessible by dirt track, which is all part of the experience and charm. Beach and town area are accessible by 5 minute tuk-tuk ride (about €3 return for 3 persons), which Dale or Tanya will arrange for you using drivers that work directly for them. The location meant that you were not far away from giant monitor lizards, monkeys, rat snakes, fruit bats and a large variety of birds; all of which were seen on the immediate lanes outside the hotel.
* FACILITIES: Great pool, good selection of books and DVDs, lounge with nice flatscreen TV, nice veranda area to sit having a few beers in the evening. You really don't need much more.
* SERVICE: Top quality, excellent, friendly attentive staff; Cyril, Anora, Servash etc - everyone a character in their own right. The right balance of being attentive without hovering around you all the time. Fantastic service and assistance from Tanya and Dale (both of whom helped, without being asked to, contact airlines etc when we first heard of the Ash Cloud). Overall, you'd be hard pressed to find a better, more genuine service and better staff. Top marks.
* FOOD: We love our food and having visited a number of local restaurants in Hikkaduwa, Galle, Kandy and Colombo (include 5 start hotels) would clearly state that the food at the Asian Jewel tis the finest we experienced on the island. Great variety, excellent quality and very well presented. The chef came out to see you most evening as he obviously took great pride in his work, and would even cook you dishes that were not on the menu if you asked. Again top marks.
* EXCURSIONS: Dale’s your man for arranging some great excursions from the Asian Jewel ; We did a great day trip to a local lake safari (lots of wildlife, Buddhist temple, Cinnamon island) coupled with a visit to a turtle sanctuary and the Tsunami Museum, We also did a day trip to Uda Walawe National Park for a safari (great experience, lots of elephants, worth the drive, but very hot if you go mid day – unsurprisingly!), trips to Galle (Fort, Shopping, superb local Unawatuna beach). Just getting in a tuk-tuk and going for a 30 minute local drive through local jungle roads, paddy fields and plantations is a fantastic excursion too.
* FAMILY: We came with our three children aged 17, 14 and 11. They loved it, spent a lot of time in the pool, watched DVDs in the evening, played board games with us and other guests, chatted with Dale and Tanya, etc. Got a little bored in last few days when things dragged on because we could not get a date for our return flight (we came for 7 days, and ended up staying 11 at Asian Jewel).
* CLIENTELE: We were very fortunate to have shared the hotel with some fantastic fellow guests who seemed to appreciate the hotel as much as we did (in fact, both sets of guests took the option of a 3.5 hour drive to return to the Asian Jewel when their flights were cancelled rather than stay at a hotel a bit nearer the airport – we had a great ‘reunion’ party that night!).
In all, the hotel really does deserve all the great commendations it gets from other Tripadvisor guests. Dale and Tanya really have created something that they are quite rightly be very proud of and are the most excellent hosts you’re likely to meet.
The best hotel in Sri Lanka? Very possibly.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Due to its unique location, the Asian Jewel Hotel, Hikkaduwa - Sri Lanka combines the best of both worlds. Enjoy the tranquility and serenity of the picturesque Bird Lake while being just 2 km inland from Hikkaduwa, one of Sri Lanka's oldest and most established beach resorts. Ever since the very early days of travel, Sri Lanka has been known as one of the world’s most beautiful, diverse and exotic holiday destinations. So, what are you waiting for? ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Asian Jewel Boutique Hikkaduwa
- Hotel Asian Jewel Boutique