The cool, mountain ranges, jungles and rivers of Sri Lanka’s heart have always held a special fascination for me. From the day I arrived here, I’ve felt an overmwhelming sense of Deju Vu – an eerie sensation that I have been here before, visited this place in my dreams or perhaps in a past life. Somehow, when the light hits the horizon just right, you can almost transcend time and space. All part of Sri Lanka’s strange, beautiful energy, I guess.
So, when I had the chance to return to my favourite place in Sri Lanka, I was understandably ecstatic! For the duration of a 7 day wellness reatreat (more on that later!) I’d be staying at the stunning Ashburnham Estate, nestled high up in the tea fields of Elkaduwa, far, far away from the rumbling chaos of Colombo. I couldn’t wait to throw my bags on that bus and get away from it all! Planning for the trip, I dreamt of long, solitary walks with nature, heavenly sleeps, brilliant sunset meditations and misty morning yoga sessions. When I arrived at the estate, those dreams (and more!) came true!
Ashburnham is a beautiful boutique hotel set in its own 100-acre tea estate, around an hour north-east of Kandy, in the heart of Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle. The estate boasts stunning waterfalls and far reaching views up to and across the Knuckles Mountains, not to mention around 60 acres of lush tea fields, plucked each day.
The rooms are decorated beautifully, retaining their 1930s charm with hints of French Provincial and Mid Century Design, scattered with exotic plants and well-loved books. Dreamy, four poster beds with mosquito nets and numerous fluffy pillows invite a blissful night’s sleep (Elkaduwa is one of the few places in Sri Lanka where you can cosy up under a blanket, by the way) and you’ll be delighted to find a personal greeting and gift on your pillow on arrival.
The central lounge has possibly the most comfortable collection of sofas I have EVER encountered, where you can cuddle up with a book and a glass of wine in front of a crackling log fire. And, then there’s the glorious varandah with sweeping views out across the valley, through the branches of giant Mara trees, leaves fluttering gently in the breeze.
The staff at Ashburnham Estate deserve a special mention too – they were all just amazing! The talented chefs, who went to the trouble of making fresh coconut milk for us each day, and even making one of my very own raw vegan cake recipes for dessert, completely spoiled us. Vegan? No problem. These chefs can make plant-based magic! The managers and front-of-house staff were so very welcoming and made us feel like nothing was too much trouble, always smiling and telling me little jokes. You know you’ve experienced true hospitality when you feel like you’re waving goodbye to family on the day you leave.
For me, Ashburnham Estate was the perfect combination of homely creature comfort and peaceful natural surroundings. A place where I could really unwind and get back in touch with the source. But perhaps the most magical place on the estate is the enchanting waterfall. I was lucky enough to return with Mr. Jungle Shakti on a bright, sunny day where we could swim in the rock pools under the spray and lounge about on the rocks in the sun. Time flew by as we watched butterflies and dragonflies dancing in the mist, and even spotted our own personal rainbow –truly magical! So much beautiful energy in that place. I really didn’t want to leave! What finally dragged us away were our grumbling tummies and the promise of lunch... but secretly, I knew we’d be back one day soon.
take me there...
Elkaduwa Road (B 461),
Kandy, Kandy Province 21012