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I found Madulkelle Tea and Eco Lodge almost by chance. Looking for an alternative to the resort I had booked who mixed up the dates by a month, I was researching the area around Kandy, in Sri Lanka, when Madulkelle popped up. It looked unassuming but the few photos available showed stunning views over the tea plantations from the bed, and a true glamping experience. So I booked it. And it was the best choice.
There has never been a more dramatic arrival at a hotel than this one. We were coming from Sigiriya and the road was windy and narrow for about two hours. The last 35 kilometers took an entire hour. Our driver had to constantly stop by the side of the road to let bus drivers with a death wish pass through. But the landscapes were amazing. As we climbed higher and higher we crossed small villages and tropical vegetation. The trees gave way to tea plantations and we continued to climb until the cut off to Madulkelle Tea and Eco Lodge. From then on the road became even more incredibly narrow, most of it just the width of the car, and the views more breathtaking. We were snaking through the private fields among workers returning home for the day. The road was cemented, but you needed to stay in focus not to fall off the side of the cliff. We were both speechless and I could not stop snapping away at the views. As the sun started to come down through the tall trees, the light reflected on the neon green young tea leaves like a sign on a Hong Kong street. After the last three kilometers, we finally arrived at the top. What a journey it was.
Check in was peaceful and we were immediately escorted to the outdoor terrace of the restaurant to take a seat at one of their comfortable lazy armchairs and enjoy a cup of local tea and cookies. The view was only getting better. “Wow, I thought we were never going to get there!”, exclaimed another guests who had arrived only a couple of minutes after us. “Did you also take the whole day to get here?”, he continued. The drive from Colombo took them an entire day with various stops for lunch and at an elephant sanctuary. I was glad we did the trip the opposite way, coming to the Northern most point of our itinerary and then descending slowly towards Kandy.
The most romantic part of the lodge were the luxury tents. Glamping at its best, with plush beds, proper bathrooms and a balcony perched above the rolling hills and tea bushes. I could not take my eyes off the view. Inside, the room felt like any tent at a safari lodge in Africa. In fact, the tents must have come from South Africa because they sported the terrible sockets only the country uses and whose adaptors are never part of the international set. The resort had located two UK sockets in the room but one could tell the original tents were meant for Kruger Park.
Made of canvas and fitted with African explorers furniture, they were in perfect harmony with the surroundings. They were spacious, warm and inviting. The best part? One could enjoy the views without leaving the blankets. It was divine.
I found the tents to be a very romantic setting for watching the sun come up through the Knuckles Mountain Range on the misty mornings as they all faced the sunrise.
For those looking for something extra, the large honeymoon suite has its own swimming pool. What a stunning place to enjoy the beginning of a life together.
All meals were served at the restaurant in the main building with views over the mountains and the pool. Both breakfast and dinner were great.
At dinner, the peace of the surroundings and the full set menu were just what one needed. It was romantic and peaceful and a bottle of wine went just great with the beautiful moment. It even got chilly, giving us another reason to cuddle up. Being high in the mountains, as soon as the sun set, the temperatures dropped to about 20 degrees. Inside the lobby building, a few comfortable sofas were scattered around the fire place which had been lit.
Fresh fruits, cooked eggs, breads and pastries were accompanied by local teas or coffee for breakfast. But the food was secondary, the real focus were the views. At just before 7am, the first sun rays were piercing through the clouds and the mist. The early morning was justified.
The facilities and activities
The lodge is set right in the middle of the tea plantations. Tea bushes grow along the paths to the tents and workers go about their daily tasks. The vegetable and spice garden was right by the restaurant and the bright flowers were shining bright with the morning dew. If you wanted to while away the hot midday hours, the pool was incredibly inviting and beautiful.
There were a lot of activities available from trekking through the mountainous range to visiting a working tea plantation. Although we only stayed for one night, I wish we had had at least three so we could have explored the tea plantation, walked along the bushes, trekked the forest and interacted with the locals.
Madulkelle had a spa to indulge and relax with fabulous views over the mountains, like all the rest of the lodge.
Without a doubt this was a highlight of our trip through the Cultural North of Sri Lanka. The tents were romantic and comfortable providing maximum privacy but also the most incredible views. I felt like never wanting to leave after only one day and wish I had many more afternoons enjoying freshly brewed tea and cookies by the restaurant’s verandah.
Nightly rates starting at USD200 a night. Check the latest prices here.