First of all, I have to admit that I wasn’t the biggest fan of Kandy. The Temple of the Tooth Relic, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, sure is remarkable, and so is the Bahirawakanda Vihara Buddha Statue that towers over the city on the Bahirawakanda hilltop, but the city itself didn’t impress me much. However, I think these are reasons enough to visit Kandy and it is also conveniently located to break up the journey from Colombo to either the cultural triangle or the tea country – for both of which you’ll have to pass through Kandy anyway.The views from the Big Buddha show what Kandy is really about though: lush green mountains dotted with little houses along the mountainsides, valley views and a cool mountain breeze, which feels wonderfully refreshing after the scorching heat of Colombo and the south coast.Since it was all about these hills for me, I knew it would make sense to stay high up over the city, escaping the hectic streets of Kandy and enjoy the vistas over the town far below in the valley instead.So when I found Theva Residency, I didn’t have to think twice – this is where I would want to spend the night. Perched to the side of a mountain high above Kandy, the small boutique hotel comes with an infinity pool that allows you to lose yourself on the gorgeous views over the Hantana mountain range, an exquisite restaurant that allures with said views (at night, when everything is lit up, there is a completely different feel to it) to have dinner on the terrace, and cozy rooms that are also, you’ve guessed it, all about the views.The minivan that had picked me and my two fellow travelers up at the train station took us higher and higher up on the mountain, one slope after the other, aching under the weight of our luggage. After about 15 minutes uphill driving, I could see the large glass windows that make this modern, airy hotel what it is: a place that takes advantage of its spectacular setting and knows how to show off its vistas.
A few minutes later, we walked into the tastefully designed restaurant which comes with a large outdoor terrace, but doesn’t require you to sit outside to take in the valley from up here: top to bottom glass windows cover the indoor areas of the restaurant. After the typical Sri Lankan welcome ceremony with cold wet towels and a refreshing fruit juice, we settled into our room, designed in minimal chic style, also outfitted with large windows. Situated right above the infinity pool, I was tempted to jump into the dark blue water straight from here.All rooms come with their own individual stylish design, local artists’ paintings on the wall and a bathroom that boasts a powerful rain shower. The penthouse suite and the superior rooms have a Jacuzzi, and the superior room’s in-room Jacuzzi right by the window had me think that this would be the perfect place for a romantic getaway, on a honeymoon tour of Sri Lanka for example.
Speaking of a romantic getaway – I was lucky enough to peek inside the penthouse suite during my stay and was truly impressed. The living room, surrounded by panoramic top-to-bottom glass windows on three sides, offers spectacular views over the valley, and I could see how the jacuzzi, lit up by candles, would provide the perfect setting for the start to a romantic evening…No matter if a superior balcony room or a standard deluxe room – what they all have in common is the attention to detail when it comes to decor, art and design. You can truly feel how much thought has put into furnishing and outfitting each and every room of Theva Residency.Each room comes with tea and coffee making facilities, which allowed us to have a cup of tea straight from the neighboring tea country with the sweet treat that had been left to welcome us in our room. Sitting by the open window and looking out over the lush green hills while sipping on a cuppa and devouring the delicious home-made cookies made for a wonderful break before an afternoon of sightseeing.The hotel is small with only 15 rooms (1 penthouse, 3 3uites, 7 superior balcony rooms and 4 standard deluxe rooms) and feels intimate, and so did the dimly lit restaurant when we arrived there for dinner later that night. I was told that the chefs here are all masters of their art, and took great pride in presentation of the Asian and international dishes. And our dishes did not disappoint.
We started with a pumpkin cream soup served in a loaf of bread, followed by a lemongrass sorbet as a palate cleanser. My main dish, a vegetable lasagna, could have been straight out of Italy and the breaded eggplant right out of New York City. My fellow diners also enjoyed the fresh fish and chicken dishes they ordered.Passion fruit cheesecake and a chocolate mousse for dessert rounded our dining experience – in fact, we were still stuffed from this divine meal when we went down for breakfast the next morning but we couldn’t resist the scrumptious and generous breakfast.
Breakfast is presented just as tasteful as dinner the night before, and so much more than we could possibly finish: fresh fruit juice and a fruit plate, eggs made to order, a basket with fresh breads and pastries, served with jams, all served with tea or a plunger of coffee.My only regret is that I couldn’t stay another night – I didn’t have near enough time to simply relax by the pool, enjoy a glass of wine on the terrace or take advantage of the Jacuzzi in my room.
For me, the location was one of the best features of the hotel. I loved being high up in the mountains and how well Theva Residency integrated its prime real estate into all rooms, designing the hotel in a way that allowed for sweeping views from everywhere, no matter where in the hotel you are. The terrace by the pool, the restaurant and its large terrace, the rooms – the views are outstanding from everywhere.
I also loved being far above the hustle and bustle of Kandy, which felt miles away, but still in reality, I could be in the town center in 15 minutes.
I am not sure if there is a comparable dining experience to be had anywhere else in Kandy, but the Theva restaurant, which can also be visited by non-guests, makes for a gorgeous, classy and elegant night out. Everything here is done just right, from aperitifs to digestives, starters to desserts, palate cleansers and wine selection – plus its wonderful setting in the mountains, with lights sparkling everywhere at night.
Room for improvement
To be honest, I have had a very hard time trying to think of something that could be improved. There was nothing during my short stay that I thought could use improvement, so I just suggest that Theva Residency keeps up the high quality service and maintenance of the rooms which should always be in a perfect condition, considering the steep price tag of the rooms.
Free wifi, pickup service from the train station, tea and coffee making facilities in the room, breakfast included in the room rate, infinity pool, superior rooms come with jacuzzi, restaurant with terrace and full bar.
Location: 11/B5/10-1, 6th Lane, Off Circular Road 2, Hantana, Kandy
Price: Starting at $126 per deluxe room per night, $157 per superior room, $253 per suite per night (prices vary depending on season)
LGBT Friendly: Yes
Digital Nomad Friendly: Yes
Amenities: Free wifi, pickup service from the train station, tea and coffee making facilities in the room, breakfast included in the room rate, infinity pool, superior rooms come with jacuzzi, satellite TV, air con, restaurant with terrace and full bar.
Website: Theva.lk or you can follow Theva Residency on Facebook