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“Still Wonderfully Unique”
Review of Helga's Folly

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Helga's Folly
Ranked #21 of 58 Hotels in Kandy
Reviewed February 20, 2012

We were lucky enough to return to Helga's Folly on our recent tour of the island. It is just as we remember, still magical and totally different!
When we think of Sri Lanka the first thing we think of is always the Folly!

It was our 5yr old daughters introduction to Sri Lanka and she was encaptured by Helga's Folly. She loved the Lonely Goat Herd fresco's on the bedroom wall next to her mosquito net covered bed. She also loved the magical swimming pool and was facinated watching the cheeky monkeys in the grounds.

We spent hours re-discovering the curio's of the nooks and crannies together with celebrity hunting in the guestbooks (as well as finding my previous entry)

Dinner was taken by a mass of candlelight and we especially enjoyed our pre-dinner mulled wine-expertly spiced and totally unique (would love that recipe!)
Breakfast was a colourful display of fresh fruits and home baked bread rolls.

The team at Helga's looked after us well. We checked out after breakfast, left our baggage at the Folly to collect before taking the 1st class Colombo train in the afternoon. On our return we took tea we were delighted to be offered our original room in order that we could freshen up before we departed. This was so appreciated, especially with a 5yr old -such a considerate touch!

Now for the important bit...
The 'anti-hotel' as it's refered to is not for everyone you either 'get-it' or you don't!
An idea of what to expect is totally transparent at Helgasfolly.com and it is made clear that you must read the 'are you aware' candid clarification/guest expectation page before making reservations.
We are so pleased that we do 'get-it' as we view our visits as an experience and not so much as a nights accomodation. (we still however don't get-it enough yet to stay more than a couple of days)

So if you fancy unique, aged warn about the edges, eccentric, explosive colour and stepping out of reality you might be lucky enough to 'get-it' too!

Love it or hate it you will never forget it!

Hope our photo's help too

  • Stayed: February 2012, traveled with family
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8  Thank fordwater
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed February 14, 2012

I can understand the mixed reviews on tripadvisor because this hotel is really two, totally different parts.

Firstly there's the main house which is beyond fantastic. It's a stunning mix of of everything under the sun, beautifully placed and completely, entirely, wonderfully unique. I can't imagine that anyone wouldn't fall in love with this place immediately.

You feel as though you're staying with a family and this mood follows through to the friendly, personal service where we felt as though we were being brought drinks by friends and not staff.

My one great regret was not having dinner here because this is just such a wonderful house that you don't ever want to leave. I could have happily stayed on the sofa in the red living room all night long. It's one of those truly magical moments listening to Ella Fitzgerald and Edith Piaf on the gramophone while frogs and crickets chirrup outside and a warm breeze wafts around the room.

Breakfast the next day was good with the usual menu of fresh frut platter, hot items and bakery while monkeys played on the terrace outside.

Perhaps I should have spent the night on the sofa because all good things come to an end. As wonderful as the house is, the rooms are in an annexe that's tacked on to the side of the building and seem to be a completely different animal entirely. The style of the rooms comes from another era and reminds me of a summer holiday camp from the 1960s, poured concrete floors, plywood doors and painted over windows into the corridor. The artwork across walls, doors and even ceilings continues but looks as though it's by a different person.

They've made every attempt to match the rooms to the grandeur of rest of the house but there's only so much they could do, resulting in something that's not amazing and also not appealing. The room smells of damp and mothballs, rather strongly.

We knew the bathrooms had received poor reviews and indeed they're a little basic (shower, toilet, bidet and sink), with mould on the walls and chunks of paint flaking away, and yes, the decoupage decoration of the toilet wasn't well done but overall the bathrooms are serviceable and there is hot water. What more do you actually need? What I wasn't expecting was that there weren't any toiletries except for a soap (unused) and a bottle of shampoo (that looked as though it had been used before). There was also a pot of citronella oil but I wasn't sure if it was provided by the hotel or left behind by a previous guest.

The other weird thing about the bathrooms is that they've added incredibly modern sinks which aren't really in keeping with the style of the rest of the bathroom. Mine was fine but it leaked in my mother's room (room 12) pouring water all over the floor instead of down the drain and another guest (in room 12a) complained that hers also leaked.

In the bedroom, the window mounted air conditioner was a bit rackety but it lulled me to sleep and the bed was extremely comfortable. The room didn't feel entirely clean (I could have written my name in the dust on the wardrobe mirror) and the quality of the paintings on the walls aren't all good - particularly the butterflies on the window which were kindergarten rather than artistic. The paint was flaking from the walls and there were grubby fingermarks around the light switches and other areas. The mosquito net around the bed reeked of mildew and dust so I left it up.

They use the excuse that this is a home rather than a hotel but I feel that's a bit of a cop out. When I have guests to stay at my home, I make sure everything's clean and I certainly don't charge $200 for the experience.

I can fully understand their dilemma: the rooms need a bit of a wash and brush up, but I've no idea how they could deep clean and re-paint without destroying all the existing paintings.

Overall I would say this is good but not great and expensive for what you get. I so wanted to love this place because I feel that somewhere so individual and so full of character should be supported (there were only one other couple staying there the night we were there) but I couldn't wholeheartedly recommend it as a hotel.

I would definitely say you should visit and stay for dinner (just remember they cook everything to order so it will take time between ordering and getting food) and pick your room carefully if you choose to stay.

  • Stayed: February 2012, traveled with family
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3  Thank kanthony
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 12, 2012

We didnt stay at the Folly but dined here on a couple of occasions. The food was sublime. We were fortunate enough to have a few drinks with Madam Helga herself one evening, unforgettable experience.
The place is incredible. Go and see for yourself.

  • Stayed: March 2011, traveled with friends
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4  Thank NellBelle740
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 12, 2012

character, complexion, difference, discreteness, distinctiveness, eccentricity, idiosyncrasy, individualism, originality, uniqueness, and STYLE.
Welcomed with chilled ginger beer by staff dressed in tomato red to match the building. While being led through the cavern of rooms to our bedroom our eyes were captivated by colour and our ears by the strains of Marlene Dietrich. To stay here is to enveloped in the history of the house and its owner; you are not in a hotel you are in a home and some home. Baroque candles cascading with wax, gold trimmed glasses and a constant trip for the eyes. impeccable discreet service and an utter moveable feast. Thank you Helga we loved staying with you and meeting you.

Room Tip: We stayed in the Nutcracker Suite
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  • Stayed: February 2012, traveled as a couple
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8  Thank TarkaSussex
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 5, 2012

Mind boggling...every room is individual overflowing with creativity, paintings, music, family history, antiques etc.

Madame Helga - charming and very hospitable.

Superb location - high up on the hill with great views of Kandy...

Staff are excellent and very welcoming.....

One critic..cooking could be better....

Room Tip: They are all good....
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  • Stayed: January 2012, traveled as a couple
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6  Thank DMBP1962
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 1, 2012

Had a tip from a friend to go here and very glad that i did. Only went for drinks and dinner, but it was the highlight of Kandy for my friend and I. If you are the type of person who likes clean cut 5 star boring places don't go here, but if you want an amazing experience that is strange, quirky, fun and adventurous get here.

It is a little expensive for Sri Lanka but i would pay it all again just to see the walls and decoration. You won't see anything like this for a very long time trust me.

Helga popped over said hello and was fun and interesting, as were the other guests. Food was good, but it was more the ambiance of the room and decorations that made it a night to remember. For anyone coming through kandy this is a must stop no questions asked.

Might want to book transport on the way back though as none of the tuk tuks would take us back for some reason, and it is about a 20 minute walk back to the main road.

  • Stayed: January 2012, traveled with friends
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9  Thank aussieinhangzhou
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 1, 2012

A friend and I had been recommended this place, we were told it was weird, eccentric, dark but artistic - it was certainly all those things and more! We arrived and were lead into a large living type room that had been decorated in such a way it just gave the place an amazing feel, hard to describe but we were both overwhelmed.... in a pleasant way. It was dark so the waiter lit a number of candelabras and sat us down.

We ordered our drinks (they aren't cheap but about the same as most western bars) and sat down to enjoy them and soak up the ambience. Initially we were the only ones there, we invited our driver to join us for some drinks so he did. Throughout the course of the evening we encountered some extremely interesting characters including Helga herself, she seemed to float into the room and greeted us all very politely then went on to see other guests.

The food was great, small servings but a 3 course set menu and great value considering the surroundings. Helga is no ordinary woman, nor were any of the other people we met that night, it may not be to everyone's liking but for us it struck a chord and I strongly recommend people to go and make up their own mind.

For me it was a place I will always remember, and for all the right reasons, fascinating surroundings and interesting people. I didn't check to see if there was dust on the picture frames, i personally don't care, for a drink, a meal and a memorable night this place is hard to beat.

If you want a squeaky clean, boring environment or are troubled by things that are slightly out of your comfort zone don't bother going to Helga's, if you are adventurous and open minded you will love the place.

I didn't stay here because we had already booked in Kandy, but the other guests said the rooms were great and if I went back to Kandy this would be where I would be staying.

  • Stayed: January 2012, traveled with friends
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7  Thank Rorsistance
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Helga's Folly

Address: 70 Rajaphilla Mawatha, Kandy 20000, Sri Lanka
Location: Sri Lanka > Central Province > Kandy District > Kandy
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beverage Selection Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#6 Romantic Hotel in Kandy
Price Range: $87 - $130 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:2.5 star — Helga's Folly 2.5*
Number of rooms: 15
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
HF is just a Sri Lankan’s home with some history and color, backed by jungle, and if expecting a regular hotel experience, best go elsewhere.... quite a different concept to a normal hotel. Please be assured that you should be interested in our hospitality, we will be delighted to assist you..Thank You ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Helga`s Folly Hotel Kandy
Helgas Folly Kandy
Helgas Folly Hotel Kandy

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