Sunday, November 16, 2008
Selara River Guest Uda Walawe / Embilipitiya Sri Lanka Hotel Review - Selara River Hideout
Embilipitiya is one of our new urban centers, 200km from Colombo. Drive into town and you can see a town that in a few years will become a city. When my dad was doing an agribusiness here, we used to stay at Centauria. Now, however, they have overbuilt the place - the view from the restaurant of the lake is no more, cut down the menu - no more wild boar! and overpriced it - last time I asked, LKR 7,500 was the half board rate, which is like paying LKR 3 million for a Maruti.
When I had to go there recently, a colleague recommended Selara River Guest. As it's only about 15km from Embilipitiya on the Pelmadulla-Embilipitiya Road, I thought I'd try it. We turned left at the Uda Walawe turn off (Walawe Handiya) and about 5km down the road, you turn right and drive about 1km of jungly road: we had complaints from the driver that there couldn't be a hotel in such an area.
The first thing you notice when entering the hotel at night is the bar building. A two story building made of wood and such, it is incredibly pretty. We climbed the staircase (more of a flat ladder really) and had drinks on the second floor with wevu malu (lake fish) fried with sliced onions and lime as bites. I don't recommend drinking too much liquor there, though: the climb down is precarious enough when sober.
Once we finished our bites, the dinner was ready. We ate at the restaurant: basic but really good, Sri Lankan rice and curry. (Breakfast was also Sri Lankan and basic and really good.)
After dinner, we went to our rooms. Selara has 6 independent chalets set in a thin strip of land, the river on one side and the national park on the other. The rooms and bathrooms were fairly basic but stylish and clean. Black rock floors, beds made out of what seems like the trees that were cleared to build this place, a bathroom with a cool shower thing where water gushes out as if you were standing under a mini waterfall. (When I was a kid, my dad used to take me to bathe in a peella just outside Nuwara Eliya town. This felt the same way!)
Selara, like the Mud House, has a very basic structure in a spectacular setting. Unlike the Mud House, however, everything else - like the mattresses - is also fairly basic. But, given the price - I paid LKR 3,600 half board - this is definitely acceptable.
Given all this, you'd expect the hotel to be full, if not of foreigners at least locals. But the staff told me that guests have been few and far between. Sri Lanka has few enough small hotels which offer good value. Selara, like Sri Lankan tourist spots in general, is beautiful, good value and under visited. 'Twas ever thus, I guess.
Hotel Name: Selara River Guest / Hideout
Directions: Turn right onto Walawe Handiya from Embilipitiya rd and go 5km and turn right at the Selara sign and go 1km
Phone: +94 47 492 1340 / +94 779 710184
Rates (all inclusive): LKR 3,700 half board double
More Photos: Selara River Guest / Hideout on PicasaWeb