Dick Oya Bungalow oozes nostalgia. It’s hard to stay here and not be captivated by the colonial character of this evocative plantation abode. Dating back to the nineteenth century, the bungalow has been recently refurbished and brought firmly up to date. Original antiques and cushy reproduction furnishings elegantly endow every room, and provide plenty of creature comforts, whilst timber floors, patterned rugs and soft carpets are a feature throughout. Housing four generously proportioned bedrooms (including a family suite with double and twin-bedded rooms), the bungalow is extremely spacious and yet cosy at the same time, and there are many lounging spots where guests can find their own peaceful escape. Topping a tea-flanked hillock at an elevation of 1,200m above sea level, the bungalow boasts a fantastic location near Dickoya town, in the heart of the island’s lush Hill Country. Numerous windows open widely onto panoramic views of the emerald tea fields, and in amongst this luminous green are colourful sari-clad women traversing the trails and plucking the neatly tended tea bushes. The bungalow’s four-acre garden is as well maintained as the tea estate and bursts with sun-loving blooms drawn to this fresh temperate climate. A selection of home-grown fruit trees and vegetables also flourishes here and the garden’s centrepiece is a verdant green lawn. This bungalow suits big groups and families who will adore its generous proportions. Facilities are fairly limited, however there is a separate TV Lounge with CD player and board games, and a volleyball net on the front lawn. The house is staffed by a small team, including an efficient manager who drops by daily, and a cook who is in charge of preparing all of your meals (fixed price set menus). From the bungalow you can wander the estate roads or take a trip to a nearby tea factory. With acres of countryside to explore, reservoirs and waterfalls to visit, scenery to ogle over and even the potential of scaling the sacred mountain of Adam’s Peak (an hour and a half’s drive away), lovers of the great outdoors, and anyone looking to escape into the island’s tea country, will find much to enjoy here.
Dick Oya Bungalow sits within a beautifully manicured garden on the outskirts of the small town of Dickoya, near Hatton, in Sri Lanka’s southwestern Hill Country. From its elevated hilltop position, the bungalow boasts glorious views over neighbouring hillocks, which are all lushly cloaked with verdant tea bushes. Unpaved roads and lanes through the surrounding estate offer plenty of potential for getting out and exploring this gorgeous emerald landscape on foot and witnessing the estate workers hard at work. The elevation in Dickoya is over 1,000m above sea level so although the days are warm and sunny – much like the perfect English summer’s day - the evenings can feel fresh and cool, which is a real relief if you’re escaping from the hot and humid coastal areas of the island. The large market town of Hatton is just 3km from the bungalow and here you’ll find a range of banks, pharmacies, fresh produce markets, liquor shops and a branch of the island-wide Cargil’s supermarket chain.
The Hill Country is one of Sri Lanka’s most dramatic regions famed for its soaring peaks, its panoramic views, its salubrious climate, its gushing waterfalls, its rich colonial architecture and its acres and acres of verdant green tea estates.
Once cloaked in thick impenetrable jungle, the Hill Country was opened up by the British colonialists in the nineteenth century who were to first plant coffee, and then clear huge swathes of land to plant the much more successful crop of tea which remains one of the island’s top exports. With an elevation ranging from 850m to 2,500m, the Hill Country is characterised by its climate; cooler and less humid than elsewhere, the region sees plenty of rain but is also bathed in a great deal of sunshine that keeps the spectacular scenery of the area so healthily lush and in bloom.
Piduratangala (2,500m), Sri Lanka’s tallest mountain is located in the hill country however it is the island’s fifth largest peak that is most significant. Unusually venerated by devotees of the island’s four main religions – Christians, Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims – Adam’s Peak (2,240m) is a popular pilgrimage spot that’s traditionally climbed in the cooler early hours of the morning to arrive just in time for spectacular spiritual sunrises from its summit.
Walking is a popular pastime throughout the hill country as the climate affords great potential; varied terrains, spectacular vistas, abundant wildlife and refreshing waterfalls are highlights of any exploratory hike in the hills. Traversing the seemingly Scottish landscape of Horton Plains is one of the most rewarding walks for its conclusion at the sheer drop of World’s End.
Whilst roads wriggle their way up and around peaks, the best way to travel in the Hill Country is by train, even if you have nowhere special to go. The railway track, complete with numerous tunnels, bridges and loops is one of the most scenic in the world as it reaches spectacular viewpoints that roads simply cannot.
The winding road leading up to Dick Oya Bungalow promises something special at the top, and it doesn’t disappoint. From its glorious hilltop location you can eye 360-degree views and revel in four acres of private gardens. As soon as you arrive at the bungalow, you’re transported back in time. Although the bathrooms are quite basic, the rest of the house lives up to its promise of twenty-first century comforts and is wonderfully cosy. There are two generously sized living rooms, and each of the bedrooms come with sitting areas too meaning that there’s plenty of private space to hide away. The staff at the bungalow carry out their roles efficiently, if a little seriously, but this formality provides yet more character to a stay here. The dining room is elegant and meals are a formal affair – multiple courses for lunch and dinner are priced per person, and although they list a small selection of western and Sri Lankan options, efforts are made, where possible, to accommodate any request. The Sri Lankan dishes were our favourite, and were perhaps more in keeping with the chef’s abilities than the western dishes. Siri, the friendly off-site manager drops by daily to visit guests and assist with anything they need.
Escape to a cooler climate and relish the tranquillity of days gone by at 5-bedroom Craig Appin Bungalow near Hatton in the southwest Hill Country. Encircled by a pretty garden, the bungalow is fully staffed and features a living room, a TV Lounge, a dining room and a furnished veranda.
From its private hilltop perch in the southwest Hill Country, 100-year-old Strathdon Bungalow gazes through stands of giant bamboo across spectacular tea-clad mountains and verdant valleys. Home to 4 bedrooms and a lovely ‘breakfast terrace’, this family house comes with a small staff team including cook and non-resident manager.