Sri Lanka Travel Guide – Unusual Places

The Tea Factory – Kandapola
The exterior of this remarkable 60-room hotel, 6850 feet above sea level, has been retained exactly as it was when the British planters constructed it in the mid-1930s. It was then the Hethersett Tea Factory, named after a small town outside London.

Its unique selling point is clearly the environment around and the tranquility provided by a tea acreage of 25 acres. There just isn’t any kind of pollution or noise around here. An ancient oil-fired generator which once powered the factory that produced nearly half a million kilogrammes of tea annually still remains bolted to the ground floor of the hotel and can be seen from the upper corridors around the atrium-like structure. The silent swish, swish when the generator is switched on to impress residents is the only mechanical sound you will ever hear. Imagine for a moment a spanking clean generator retained in its original condition.

The overhead line shaft and pulleys at the ground level from the entrance lobby, the restaurant and games area and you have a hotel that took some imagination to reconstruct. The old drier room is now the reception area. Two huge withering fans made of laminated wood built by the firm that made the propellers for the World War Two British Spitfires have been retained where they existed on the 2nd and 3rd levels of the hotel. These fans were once worked at 1,500 rpm to draw hot air from the dryers that were located on the ground floor, and for pushing the air into the lofts where the bedrooms are located.

The bedrooms have been carved out of four large lofts that were used for the withering process, which is the first stage of black tea production after the green leaf is delivered to the factory. The floors of the bedrooms are the original boarded floors of pinewood imported from Sweden. The entire steel structure of the building was once imported from Dormon Long, UK!!!

Tea from the Hethersett factory was the first to fetch the highest price in the world for silver tip tea from Ceylon. In 1891, Hethersett tea was auctioned in Mincing Lane, London, for £1.10s.6d, over 30 times the then average price of 1s.0d for a pound of tea. The factory finally shut down in 1973.

The Tea Factory is 14 kms from Nuwara Eliya and is located in the Udupussallawa Valley which is believed to be much drier than the North East of Sri Lanka. It is said that even the valley’s light brights variety of tea are different.

Contact Niranjan Mudalige, General Manager, TTF, Kandapola, Tel. 052-23600, 22026, 072256223. Email:

Beach Wadiya – Colombo
Princess Anne dined here and the Beach Wadiya will even show you her signature to prove it. The restaurant serves fresh seafood and even discusses the menu with you under a thatched roof on plain wooden tables; weather permitting on the sand outside. Great atmosphere.

Barberyn Reef Hotel – Beruwala
Ayurvedic Health Resort – Email:
Among its many diversities, the island has a holistic medical system that depends exclusively on medicinal herbs. The islanders take a common cold in their stride with a hot gruel of coriander and root ginger or a pungent herb tea called peyawa. A local firm called Link Natural Products exported herbal remedies and essential oils worth $3 million in 1997. Link makes, for example, SAMAHAN, a fast version of peyawa and exports it to Germany and Switzerland under the name “Grippeheal”, derived from the German term for influenza. It also makes Five Herbs packed like tea bags for stress cure, and a variety of other safe remedies.

Spritely Spirits
The island has an interesting local brew called ARRACK – the distilled essence of toddy which is the fermenting sap of the coconut flower. VSOA (Very Special Old Arrack), 7-year-old arrack and double distilled arrack are available at most hotels. A must for the adventurous, but it needs to be drunk with a cola to kill off its rather strange taste. Several branded versions available and safe if bought in a hotel or from a good supermarket.

Sri Lanka Travel Guide

Subscribe to BootsnAll’s bi-monthly newsletter on current travel stuff!
Enter your e-mail

Filed under: 170