I’d always wanted to return to Sri Lanka (still Ceylon in my mind) to show Maureen something different, but this time I wanted to stay at the Mount Lavinia Hotel, not just visit for lunch as I had when I was at sea.
We flew in from Malaysia and after immigration & customs we entered a colourful mad house of people shouting and gesturing in the arrival halls. The air conditioning system was losing the battle against the humidity of the outside world. I was back in Ceylon after nearly thirty years, it had the same smells, the same heat, the same friendly faces – I loved being back, and only hoped that I hadn’t over sold the holiday to my wife.The Mount Lavinia hotel is about a ninety minute drive south of the airport, which is only about 43 kms in distance (about 25 miles), but this depends on the traffic of course.
We had to drive through the centre of Colombo, which was an experience in itself.
I’d picked the hotel because as a cadet, during my time at sea, I’d visited the Mount Lavinia Hotel for a genuine Sunday curry lunch, and I wanted to experience the location, and the local food once again, but this time with Maureen.
The hotel used to be the Governor’s home in 1805 and remained so for many years. Click on the link and read of the romance between the 2nd Governor, Sir Thomas Maitland and a dancer and how the hotel was named.
Entrance to Mount Lavinia Hotel.
A touch of the old days with pith helmets. . .
The hotel is located on a small promontory jutting out in to the sea, and overlooking a magnificent beach, which is lapped by the Indian Ocean. The feel and design of the hotel is old colonial, but it had all of the 21st century requirements. The hotel owns this part of the beach.
The cooling effect of an ‘indoor’ water fall as you checked in to the hotel.
Picture taken from the hotel web site – all other photographs are my own.
View from our room – one of the cheaper rooms.
Small bar area near reception, most of the time we would sit out near the pool and admire the ocean view. When I visited as a cadet the pool area was a large lawn that sloped down to the cliff’s edge. We would have a beer and then the curry and find a shaded area to have a doze before returning to the ship. The roads were not as crowded then, so the taxi ride to the hotel used to be quite pleasant. Today the ride from the city is about thirty minutes or more, and the airport is further north of the city, which is why it takes so long to drive from the airport to this hotel – but we considered it worth the effort..
Sometimes we would have our evening meal in this area – enjoying a cool evening breeze – and we were covered in case of rain.
We would sit at the far end near the ocean and watch the sunset – never tired of watching the sun go down. We did see a wedding party with spot lights and professional movie style cameras
What more could I want . . . ?
How about eating on the beach in the evening . . the restaurant is the thatched area on the right.
The restaurant can be seen on the left – the tide never came in far enough to upset our meal.
As you see the floor is sand packed tight. Reservations required even if you are a hotel guest. The restaurant is owned by the hotel so you sign and put it on your room account.
I think it had just started to rain, but we were dry under the thatched roof.
The fish is displayed in ice and the price marked is per 100 grams, which includes rice or chips (French fries), and salad or vegetables. Tell the cook how big a piece you want and it is cut fresh from the whole fish, and they are seldom wrong when estimating the weight before cutting – they weigh the piece in front of you and ask how you want it cooked. For me it is always grilled and I like swordfish, tuna, and any steak style fish slightly pink in the middle – it was grilled perfectly. In the photograph you can see 300 LKR (Sri Lankan rupees), which is about AUD $2.50 for 100 grams of Grupa (Grouper) fish.
If you can not find your fish in the ice display just pick from the blackboard.
All the fish on display was that day’s catch, and still whole at the start of the evening. Some of the fish were very large and it was fascinating to watch as the exact weight that I required, was cut from a large swordfish – none of the portions that I saw, even from the smallest fish, had bones attached to that portion.
Breakfast could be inside, in air conditioned comfort – or outside in the pool area.
Hot food just outside the air-conditioned dining room.
A lovely hotel with old world charm and friendly staff, a relaxing time for both of us.