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“An experience”
Review of Helga's Folly

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Helga's Folly
Ranked #22 of 54 Hotels in Kandy
Bangkok, Thailand
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“An experience”
Reviewed December 20, 2012

From our arrival we knew this hotel would be a unique experience . With two young children we should have been better prepared for Mosquitos.
We are treated and served like a royal visit and I loved reading all the family history and looking at the photographs . It is a glimpse of a different life and when we met Helga she was charming and even had a gift for the children .
The rooms are big and the beds comfy but there was renovation work going on which will improve the toilets and meant a lot of dusty floors . I would recommend if you are in Kandy stay for the experience

  • Stayed October 2012
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank J M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Colombo, Sri Lanka
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed November 25, 2012

I stopped by here one evening for a late dinner with a friend and we were enchanted by the hotel. Simply to enter Helga’s Folly is an experience on its own. It’s the kind of place that you either love or hate. There isn’t a possibility here for a lukewarm response. The bold colours and psychedelic murals on the walls can seem either creative or kitschy. The jagged strands of paralyzed wax dripping from the candelabra and the shadowy corners caused by muted lighting can be either intriguing or alarming. Various styles of antique furniture, low hanging chandeliers, porcelain urns, wooden busts, ornately framed mirrors and countless other objects can make you feel either hemmed in by paraphernalia or embraced by entities with stories to tell. We thought it was creative, we were intrigued and we were certainly enchanted by the stories. We loved it.

I think my favourite quality about Helga’s Folly is that it is highly conducive to escapist fancies and ridiculous imaginings. If you’ve got the tiniest smattering of whimsy about you, you’ll catch yourself indulging in wild fantasies and daydreams, if not out loud then at least in the secrecy of your mind. We found we couldn’t help picturing ourselves in the most eccentric circumstances – eccentric, but still with a sense of childlike fun. Sipping deliciously aromatic cardamom tea, poured out of an antique teapot, I felt like a Mughal princess being waited on hand and foot.

I would certainly visit again :)

Stayed July 2012, traveled with friends
Helpful?
4 Thank Haseena R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London
Level Contributor
28 reviews
21 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
Reviewed November 2, 2012

It is as if there was a riotous, LSD ridden, high society Halloween party here 40 years ago and not a jot has changed since. Candelabra's covered with generations of greying wax, convoluted family history plastered over the walls, strange monsters and monkeys guarding the pool, loyal retainers who ceased to consider it all as anything other than completely normal years ago and, of course Helga - a lady who has enjoyed high fashion and high society but also suffered some lows too in her family life. She appeared like an apparition while we were sat at dinner and gently asked if all was well before commenting how confusing it is to be asked if one is eccentric - what does that mean? We didn't ask the question and we couldn't answer it either. The room though was eccentric (I think?) but immensely enjoyable with a black shower (couldn't see a thing), high beds (our older friends had trouble getting in) and much wall art. The monkeys provided a 6.00am wake up call by thundering over the iron roof. Food was excellent and wine not bad either. Expensive yes but then it is an extraordinary experience not to be missed.

  • Stayed October 2012, traveled with friends
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
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    • Service
Helpful?
7 Thank Backzapper
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Wolkenstein, Germany
Level Contributor
5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
Reviewed October 5, 2012

The decor is very creative and old world charm recreated!!.straight out of the Victorian era. The pool in the most unique setting and monkeys darting around adds to the charm. The meals are wonderful a truly magical place especially for a special occasion.Beautifully set table with lots of chandeliers, candles and a lovely meal.

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled solo
    • Value
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Helpful?
6 Thank dimitriwebber
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dundee
Level Contributor
4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed October 3, 2012

Just back from our 2 weeks honeymoon in Sri Lanka, stayed at Helga's folly for 3 nights at the end of our honeymoon as (a) it sounded interesting in Rough Guides (b) was expensive so assumed this guaranteed a very high standard of accommodation. We were picked up from the train station after making a phone reservation, there was no mention of charge therefore this is assumed to be free. Unfortunately they tried to charge us $10 for this a couple of days later (which is way overpriced as a tuk-tuk cost 200 Rs, therefore a taxi can reasonably be assumed to cost Rs400 (about $3). I expressed my unhappiness at this there and then and there was no further mention of it thankfully but it did begin the sour the atmosphere. On arrival at the hotel, we were struck by the really entertaining lobby, full of pictures, objects and the owner Helga's family history. First arrival in our room was a bit of a shock, as for Rs 20.000 per night (about $157) we expected a lot more. The room was stuffy (they might have turned on the AC to make a more welcoming environment after a long train journey), with holes in the mosquito net. The balcony was covered in bird poo and other dirt and any view of the lake obscured by trees. There were cobwebs in the ceiling, and was generally tatty and rough around the edges including loose light fittings which are also potential health and safety hazards. The toilet seat was hanging off on one side and we later discovered the flush did not work properly (at least three flushed needed for removal). I politely asked to see another room for comparison, as our guide book suggested this is worth doing. However, the staff seemed overly aggressive when I requested this asking if there was a problem with the room. I finally convinced them just to let me take a look and realised our initial room was as good as it was going to get (this apparently was our "upgraded superior room" for our honeymoon. So after a period of uncertainty, we decided to stay and tried to get into the correct frame of mind to enjoy our new "anti-hotel". We checked in for dinner that evening, didn't receive our cocktails/mulled wine unfortunately, and the dinner itself was completely average - i.e. it was fine - but no way was it worth $20 a head (had much better meals for much cheaper elsewhere in Sri Lanka). So we didn't eat there any more evenings. Breakfasts were reasonably good, fruit, toast and eggs, although we found 3 dead mosquitos in the marmalade on the third morning but apart from that no major complaints (except the coffee tasted like earth - presumably freshly "ground" haha). We spent some spare time here exploring the fascinating dining room and downstairs lobby area, which are way cooler than the rest of the hotel (which is rather creepy at night). Madame Helga called us on the first morning to welcome us and make us feel at home, which was very nice of her, she sounded like a charming and interesting lady. Just a pity we didn't meet her in person! The hotel also has a swimming pool, unfortunately the pool water was green so didn't look swimmable (presumably hadn't been changed in months/years). We were one of two guests though, which meant we pretty much had the place to ourselves which added to the enjoyment of the communal areas. On the second evening we tried to watch a movie in the cinema, however the DVDs were either too scratched or the wrong region to watch - the night porter couldn't help us set it up and the lighting was so dim (as it is throughout the hotel - if you are visiting bring a torch!) we couldn't figure it out. So disappointingly we didn't get to watch our movie. The worst moment for us came upon checkout when our bill was way higher than it should have been. They tried to charge us $200 per night for the room depsite having agreed 20,000 Rs previouly (about $157). I had to argue with the guy for about 20 minutes until he phoned the original guy who gave me the quote, but took ages and was a stressful and unpleasant way to finish our stay there. They also never replaced the water in the room throughout our stay, so we requested a bottle one evening and were charged $2 for it on checkout. When I explained this was unfair, he said he'd give us 4 small bottles to take away but couldn't remove the charge for the, presumably very special, high quality "bar water". We also had some laundry done, the room boy brought the price list in rupees which was reasonable, then later the porter brought us one in US dollars - which was about 3x the price, luckily we filled out the one in Rupees and were charged this and not the extortionate US dollar one. One sock was missing on return. I didn't complain as I think this would have been more complicated than just ignoring it (and the socks were going in the bin soon anyway).

On the whole, an interesting place to visit - but I would recommend paying $3 to have a look around the place and not actually stay there. The rooms are not worth the price at all, no matter how much you try and stretch your mind and enjoy the weirdness of the place. And the sour taste left in the mouth when they try to overcharge you while already paying a vastly over-inflated price is just the kick in the teeth when you leave (I might have forgiven the room price for the charm of the communal areas if I didn't feel I was being deliberately ripped off on check-out)

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
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Helpful?
4 Thank John_McDonald8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Auckland Region, New Zealand
Level Contributor
12 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
Reviewed September 25, 2012

Yes, as everyone says, this place is totally unique! Don't go expecting a 5-star hotel or the typical hotel stay. This is a home full of character. The history of Helga's family decorates the walls. What an honour to be in a place associated with famous politician George De Silva, Agnes Nell De Silva and Fred De Silva.. Not to mention that we got to stay where Mahatma Gandhi stayed! The pictures and house also tell of Helga's extended family, including her sister-in-law, princess of Yugoslavia and daughter, a UK fashion designer. There is plenty to look at in every corner of the house, including photos, unique Sri Lankan artwork and china plates on the walls. The atmosphere is truly special. Situated on a hilltop, there is a lovely view over Kandy. You can enjoy being surrounded by beautiful plants and birds - as well as some cheeky monkeys! We were there at off-peak time so enjoyed the peace and quiet and individual attention, though I understand they do the same when there are more people. The staff were friendly and hospitable and gave us good service, presenting our meals at times to suit. It was lovely to meet Helga and Desmond and hear about Helga's family history and life. (She must get sick of explaining, though it doesn't show! A written version is available!) Also enjoyed selecting a movie to watch in the theatrette and a comfortable night's sleep. If you're up for something different and interesting pictures to show your friends, unlike anything else in Sri Lanka, Helga's Folly is the place to go!

Room Tip: Generally basically clean and comfortable but our room and bathroom are being done up so will be eve...
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  • Stayed September 2012, traveled with friends
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank Sriwichic
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Geneva, Switzerland
Level Contributor
99 reviews
50 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 63 helpful votes
Reviewed August 27, 2012

I am not sure if this should be listed under hotel or activity! This place is an experience! We arrived late at night and were the only guests. This is a bit like arriving at the hotel of Shinning… or rather to Dali’s hotel. The place looked mysterious in the dark… and in the morning, the view took our breath away. Every room has a different design and paintings, and the common rooms look like museum. You could spend hours looking at each drawing, picture or piece of art in this house. The staff was very friendly and efficient, and we enjoyed our dinner, with a huge chandelier and metal glasses. It would need a little bit more cleaning (hire a Swiss intendant) as many things are either dusty or dirty. I would also appreciate some new ideas and renovation. Maybe a young and creative person should bring some ideas for renovating of the place. It looks a bit too much like a museum for my (modern art) taste. This said, we enjoyed the experience and our discussion with Mrs. Helga. The office staff was also super helpful, going the extra mile for my needs. Great - thank you

Room Tip: You may want to check several rooms. Each has its own design and character
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  • Stayed August 2012, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank BernieBird
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

Property: 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
#8 Family Hotel in Kandy
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
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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