Nothing’s ordinary at Mount Field

I had the honeymoon suite when I stayed at Mount Field Cottage. I wasn’t on honeymoon but I chose it as the cosiest of the 16 cottage-style rooms at Mount Field.

When I entered the room all the curtains were closed although it was noon. That’s the way, I was told, that honeymooners like it. I quickly opened them and discovered a wonderful 180 degree view of the jungle, tea bushes and wild flowers growing in rich profusion on the hillside below.

Stretching far in the distance, even down to the south coast, was a staggering panorama of hills, valleys, and shimmering lakes. It’s a view shared with World’s End.

Mount Field Cottage is actually a collection of apartments and cabanas that has been created on the rocky woodland hillside above the A4 just outside Haldummulla. It’s a comfortable 178km drive along the highway from Colombo, so that means this incredible rustic hideaway is only four hours away from the city.

I was enchanted with my room, number 4, at the top of a steep climb, up so many steps I lost count of them. First I removed the mosquito net hanging over the bed that dominated the view, and then I explored the space. Created by the owner of the property and his wife this room, and all the others at Mount Field, are engagingly individual.

Cosy cottage with panoramic view
Its own look: A roomful of ‘character’

The owners have built and designed rooms they enjoy, filling them with amusing items like fat tea pots, old jars and wood carvings. While the bathroom of my room was conventional (with hot water at the press of a switch), the rest of it was not. There is a facility for a mini-kitchen, a clothes cupboard hidden behind a mirror, and a ledge on which there is a huge television, encompassing the bed.

A small sliding door opens on to a huge terrace where there is a dining table, a day bed and wooden deck chairs. Friends climbed up through the tea garden for a party on the terrace and the restaurant steward became our butler, serving the most scrumptious vegetable bites like battered garlic and crispy green beans, and lightly cooked seer.

The accommodation has been designed to appeal to both residents and tourists, in other words to those who want city sophistication and those who want an eco-theme. The floors are shiny tiles, the walls cut stone that glistens with varnish, the curtains are frilly, the fittings aluminium, the furniture chunky wood, and rocks protrude into the rooms as part of the décor.

Nothing is ordinary at Mount Field. That feeling starts when vehicles swing into the compound after driving through Haldammulla. Steps lead by a pond brimming with tropical fish straight into the restaurant. A breadfruit tree grows through the roof, the kitchen has an open arch where a young genius, sometimes aided by the owner, prepares the most amazing Sri Lankan dishes. Kitsch ornaments like china ducks holding wooden forks line the restaurant’s rock garden where water gushes from a hidden spout.

The best Uva tea was poured from a pot on which was written: “I’m a little tea pot, short and stout, pick me up and pour me out.” It is worth driving to Mount Field just for the food, with organic and home grown vegetables complementing freshly sourced meat or fish. As an example of the lack of a typical hotel’s “portion control,” the beef curry I ordered for breakfast came with dhal, tempered potatoes, coconut sambol, kiri hodi, egg hoppers, hoppers, string hoppers, roti and two kinds of bread, locally baked and supermarket sliced.Both dinner and lunch were equally generous, which was good because with all the climbing required to get to the rooms, I soon built up an appetite. The cottages are built in 22 acres, much of which is given over to tea. On one ramble along narrow paths I found the resort’s swimming pool, a small tank in the woods fed by a mountain stream, with water so cold it was excruciatingly bracing, especially after a tiring day.

The visitors’ book contains comments of guests (both residents and foreigners) proving their admiration for the setting, the creativity, the comfort and the cooking at Mount Field Cottage. The best part is the cost, the same rate for Sri Lankans and for foreigners, according to room choice. There are singles, doubles and triples as well as the honeymoon cottage, and that costs Rs 5,200 for two, full board.

Mount Field Cottage, Haldummulla; tel: 011 5689884;

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