Sri Lanka continues to be one of the trendier destinations for travellers, as people flock to find the hidden gems that this fascinating country has to offer. But beyond the big cities of Colombo and Kandy is a small hillside station that, while favoured by tourists, still maintains a bit of its mountainous mystery.
Ella is a gorgeous little town, perfect to spend a few days relaxing as you hike in the hills, take in the tea plantations or just laze by the pool. And the best place to spend your honeymoon while in Ella is definitely at 98 Acres Resort and Spa.
Nestled in the hills, 98 Acres was named the World’s Best Mountain Resort a few years ago, for good reason. This boutique resort set on a picturesque 98 acre tea estate has lashings of elegant style, to die for views across Ella, luxurious self-contained chalet suites and some of the most wonderful cuisine at it’s hilltop restaurant.
The chalets themselves are constructed out of mainly recycled materials: think incredibly high end but sustainable. The rooms use rough hewn granite, old railway sleepers and straw roofs to provide a simple rustic chic look, but with deliciously soft white linens, sparkling new appliances and top bathroom amenities.
There are a number of chalets to choose from – standard, superior and deluxe suites usually see 3-4 self-contained suites clustered in one larger chalet building, while the Honeymoon Deluxe, Greenland and Grand Executive Suites are stand-alone rooms, hidden away from other guests.
The resort boasts a lovely little fitness centre, a world-class spa and wellness centre (Spa 98) and offers on-site activities including themed dinner nights, cooking classes with their esteemed chef and even archery! They are more than happy to organize tours for you, including walking tours in the nearby hills or bike tours, to see Ella from the back of your bicycle. The property also has a magnificent swimming pool which overlooks the tea plantations and is the perfect way to spend a day reading your book and relaxing (after all, this is your honeymoon!).
What we loved about 98 Acres is that it is still a working tea plantation. As you walk in the breath-taking grounds, you’ll see women working in the fields and slowly picking tea; of course they can organize a tea plantation experience for you if you’re so inclined where you can see it being plucked, speak to one of the expert workers, see the factory for the withering process and head over to the bar for a tea-infused cocktail.
There are also so many personal touches to the resort: from the way you’re greeted with a welcome sash, local tea and delicacies, to the concierge remembering your name and food preferences at dinner each evening. We noticed that the resort tends to be frequented by couple travellers and so only encountered one family, making it a great honeymoon destination.
The on-site restaurant offers a mix of Sri Lankan and Western cuisine, both of which were always delicious. We loved the spicy curries but also appreciated that the chef toned it down when we needed a break from the burn. The restaurant offers a fantastic buffet breakfast spread which we usually ate out on the terrace, offering inspiring views across the valley as you munch on flaky French croissants and drink your perfectly-poured cappuccino.
Other activities in the area include a number of great short hikes, the easy of which is to the famous Adam’s Peak. Actually, the trail for Adam’s Peak runs directly next to 98 Acres so you could be first up the mountain the morning, and get the sunrise all to yourselves. The country’s first zip line – Flying Ravana – is also located nearby, offering 500m of wire, slides at 80 km per hour and a breath-taking view of the hills below.
Review submitted by Lee Nelson from The Travel Scribes