Mt. Lavinia Hotel

So my next assignment for Travel Sri Lanka the magazine is to review the Mt. Lavinia Hotel. Arrangements were made last week, and the written review is due by the 20th, so I booked our overnight stay for as early as I possibly could, which meant checking in on Sunday and checking out on Monday.

Unfortunately, due to Fahim’s schedule, it’s the only day that works. He gets Sundays and Mondays off, and when he works, he starts at 6 am, so what with praying and all that before work, he has to be up by 5:30. Therefore, must be on his weekend. Can’t check in Saturday and stay over Sunday because of my responsibilities at church, so Sunday after church it is.

So I call to set it up. Originally, it’s supposed to be for two full days and a night, meaning full board (all meals) for the two days.

I get a call later on asking me if we could possibly check out of the hotel at 11am on Monday. So now, we’ve gone from two full days and a night to less than a full day. Well, it’s their prerogative so no problem

So I’m all set to enjoy myself. I’m looking forward to a night out at a nice hotel, air conditioning, hot water, beach, all that stuff. I’m expecting we’re going to have fun.

We check in. There’s a PR package waiting for me from my contact, and that’s nice. Extra information on the hotel as well as pictures of the hotel. Always helps when one is writing an article. All good.

The front desk clerk then makes some comments about the meals that I can’t quite follow, but we’re now under the impression that only lunch, dinner, and breakfast are covered, whereas I had earlier assumed that, even with checking out at 11 or 11:30, we’d still get lunch here. Doesn’t look that way now. And it appears, given that he mentioned only the Governor’s Restaurant that we may be limited to the one dining establishment. No clarity here at all.

Ah well. We’re given our key and we head up to our room – no bellman. We carry our own luggage. This for what’s supposed to be a very nice hotel in Sri Lanka, and there are certainly enough staff here. Perhaps it’s another case of status problems – no one willing to do it because they would lose status? Well, the bellmen and valets at the hotels I worked for all made two or four times as much as any of the front desk managers if they were any good – tips, you know. Undeclared non-taxable (illegally, though, of course) income. With which they could buy nice, fancy sports cars. But that thought evidently doesn’t reach here.

I’m now starting to wonder what this experience is really going to be like.

We get to our room and deposit our bags. The front desk clerk made sure we knew we were in a deluxe room – but what does that mean, exactly, in reference to every other room? I have no idea.

There’s a fairly large bed. Queen, I think. Not King, that’s for sure. But it might even be a bit larger than Queen. Well, standard North American sized mattresses don’t exist here, so I really don’t know. Anyway, no biggie.

What I can tell you, and what my brother Tony in particular would be happy about, is that there’s no smoke smell or chemical cleaning product smell. Now that’s a first! (Just because I’m sensitive to such things and can usually smell it in the hotel rooms I’ve stayed in.)

There’s a love seat, coffee table, wrap around desk, and a private balcony overlooking the ocean. Very nice view, in other words. Very very nice view.

We deposit our luggage and go for lunch in the Governor’s Restaurant. We order two fruit drinks, later I order one more, plus a bottled water, large, and had the buffet. There were a dozen or so salad items, including salmon mousse, smoked fish, Bavarian potato salad, shrimp, and a whole lotta other things I don’t remember. There was also a selection of at least 20 types of breads.

Then, the hot section. There were Indian curries, Sri Lankan curries, Thai (or Chinese – we’re not entirely sure and would probably debate this point for hours between Fahim and I), and European food. Their idea of European is pasta with two or four different sauces and barbecued chicken.

The Gotakola Sambol and Coconut Sambol were dismal failures. Fahim says that it was because they were both fried in oil, which means they last longer without going bad, but they don’t taste as good. Plus the Gotakola is supposed to have lime juice in it, but this didn’t, and that ruins the flavor.

I had some Indian curried beef and Thai lamb that were excellent. I miss my red meat. Some of the food we had was good, others was not. In other words, unpredictable and disappointing.

At the end, we were presented with a bill for our drinks – over 800 Rupees. So it looks like the food is included with our stay, but our non-alcoholic drinks are not. I’m less happy than I was before.

We needed water – hydration is, of course important, so I checked the room service menu. Bottled water, 120 rupees. I then called room service and was quoted 150 rupees per bottle. When it was delivered, the price increased again to 180 rupees.

No idea what we really should have been charged, but seriously, someone needs to get that sorted out.

We had a relaxing afternoon, lazing about. In the evening, we head down to the Sea Food Cove for dinner. And this brings me to another point.

On their website, one page lists four restaurants. Another page indicates 6 eating establishments. Another page indicates 5. So which is it?

I have no idea.

The cardboard check-in thingy that we got with our key has information on the various eating establishments, and indicates a time for breakfast as 6:30-10:30, and various other times listed for lunch and dinner, but elsewhere, it’s listed as being open 24 hours. And then the signboard in the lobby indicates it opens at 7 am for breakfast. So, uhm, which is it? Or is this just another example of people not being able to make up their minds? Or it doesn’t matter and we can show up whenever? I have no idea. But this seems to be a consistent theme.

We have to ask for directions to the Sea Food Cove. All we know is that it’s a restaurant on the beach. Turns out, we walk out of the lobby, cross the courtyard, passing the water fountain in the driveway, and cross into the other wing of the building, past jewellery shops and bookshops. Although, of course, we stop in the bookshop.

I even get two books. 🙂

They have a lot of German books, but I’ve also been told that there are a lot of Germans who come here, and in fact, south of Mt Lavinia, there are a lot of signboards advertising all manner of things, including hotels and restaurants, in German, all speaking to the German visitors. I’ve also been told that there are a large number of German expats living down in that area. So yes, of course it would make sense to have books in German.

They also have a fairly good selection of postcards. Plus toiletries – shampoo, toothpaste, tampons, sun screen, soap, cigarettes, snack food, water, and more. Basically, a sort of hotel gift shop.

We continue on our way, down a flight of stairs and past several large fishy signs showing us the way to the restaurant.

We arrive and it’s got sand for its floor, despite this part having an actual floor and not residing on the beach directly. It has woven grass roof, bamoboo type wall construction, that sort of thing. In other words, think of an extra large grass hut and you’ve got the idea.

There’s a section at the front with fresh fish, and you pick out what kind of fish you want, they weigh it and charge you by the 100 grams, plus you get rice and veggies with it. Great!

Well, that was the original thought, anyway. The food ended up being, oh, bland and tasteless. Really unfortunate considering how fresh the seafood is. Really really unfortunate.

And despite being on full board, we’re presented with the full bill, which I have to sign for. I wonder what’s going to happen at checkout – are we going to be forced to pay? This is looking less attractive.

Author: LMAshton
Howdy! I'm a beginner artist, hobbyist photographer, kitchen witch, wanderer by nature, and hermit introvert. This is my blog feed. You can find my fediverse posts at

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