Helga's Folly

Helga's Folly Quite outrageous, extraordinary, eclectic and flamboyant are just some of the words that have been used to describe Helga's Folly. There are, genuinely, few places in the world like this hotel, set in the leafy Kandy hills above the famous lake and Temple of the Tooth.

Helga's Folly is run by Helga de Silva Blow Perera, the wonderfully anglicised Sri Lankan daughter of local diplomats. The hotel was her childhood home, when stars like Vivian Leigh and Lawrence Olivier would visit.

The 40 rooms are awash with colour. Silk flowers and Christmas tree baubles sit alongside enormous murals, Hindu icons and family portraits of Helga's family. Helga swans around in flowing velvet with Jackie O glasses, while husband Desmond brings up the rear. Welcome to Helga's imagination.

Perfect for couples, solo travellers and families with the unusual on their agenda, and a good base for exploring the Buddhist temples and ancient cities to the north and the Hill Country to the south.

Although the bedrooms aren't nearly as splendid as the common and dining rooms, Helga's influence continues. Waking up with Sri Lankan sunshine filtering through the warmly-coloured batik curtains is a pleasure. The rooms are large, bare floored with throw rugs, four poster beds (some modern, some old) with black mosquito nets and ceiling fans. There are desks and sofas in most rooms and all feature balconies, but don't expect any mod-cons like a TV or minibar. At night, the staff not only turn down your sheets but also scatter your pillow with flowers. En suite bathrooms throughout are very simple, with toilet, bidet and shower, though far from luxurious by Western standards. They feature good lighting and mirrors, as well as 24 hour hot and cold water - although recent feedback suggests that the plumbing is not working as it should. Feedback also suggests that cleanliness is not as it could be. There are 25 bedrooms, but to retain a family atmosphere, Helga prefers her hotel not to be fully booked (and they don't take bookings for tour groups).
Distance From Colombo : 115 km
Helga - a luminous star and her own best asset
A small swimming pool set in a tropical garden and surrounded by mythological statues
A brand new in-house cinema, which shows an array of movies from the silent-era to modern day classics as well as movies connected with the house. This is especially popular with children.
Coffee served on trays in ornate silver pots and creamers
Antique furniture throughout
Enough knick knacks to keep you curious for days
Dozens of articles - old and new - about Helga's Folly's rich history
Walls washed with bright colours - from red to blue to black
Dripping candles for evening light
Edith Piaf, Louis Armstrong and more on the gramophone
Zodiac mural on the common area ceiling
Power points throughout all rooms
Fax facilities available
Food and drinks served all day
Kitchen where you are welcome to walk in and serve yourself
Weddings and receptions can be arranged.
Helga's Folly
Positive :
The gentle and unfailingly helpful staff in their vibrant red suits with black cummerbunds ("Asokas") and Ella Fitzgerald on the gramophone.

The colourful murals, sunset cocktails, quaint reading room and sumptuous common area... An experience you won't forget.
Negative :
The monkeys stole my hat, book and notes I'd foolishly left on my balcony. Keep your balcony door closed at all times if you don't want your suitcases pilfered!

Decor is looking a little shabby now.
The bedrooms are disappointing compared to the rest of the house
The bathrooms are basic and the plumbing seems to be not working as well as it should, although we are told they being refurbished very soon
There have been reports of poor cleanliness in the rooms
The food receives very mixed reports
Recent feedback suggests it is overpriced for Sri Lanka
Helga's isn't for everyone - it seems you either love it or hate it!

Activities :
Golf / Hiking / Walking / Riding / Cultural Insight / Historical Sites / Museum / Galleries / Shopping/Markets / Peaceful Hideaway / Art Classes / Yoga
Spend the day gazing out over Kandy, reading and taking the odd dip in the pool
Sunset arrack and gin cocktails with Helga are a must
Excursions to nearby sites of interest, including Kandy lake and the Temple of the Tooth, can be arranged at the hotel, with local drivers available for hire. A trip to see at least one of the ancient cities and temples in the north is also a must (all within 2.5/3 hours driving).
Visit nearby Bombyx Mori (run by a friend of Helga's) to learn crafts from wool dying and spinning to tapestry, pottery and paper-making
Go on one of the many scenic walks in the area or hire a bike for the day and go for a picnic in the Botanic Gardens
Visit the Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage, less than an hour away - great for children and anyone wanting to see elephants up close
Go antique hunting at the well-resourced Waruna Antiques at 761 Peradeniya Road, Kandy
The nearby Victoria golf course allows day visitors
Horse riding is available through private companies in the area
Traditional Ayurvedic herbal massages with a professional can be arranged at the hotel
On special request - dance, meditation and yoga can be arranged at Helga's
Come in July/August for the Esala Perahara Festival - one of the largest in Asia.
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