The Bentota Beach Hotel was built in 1967, which makes it probably the oldest of the Geoffrey Bawa Hotels. Its central courtyard has some really tall Araliya (flower) trees, perhaps the tallest we have ever seen, which reach right up to the top floor Deluxe rooms, which we had. We were on half board basis, as from previous experience we found that we could not have the huge breakfast buffets and then also eat a substantial lunch buffet as well. During the weekend that we were there, the hotel was quite full, and was dominated mainly by a Middle Eastern tour group, a German group and a number of locals. This meant that both car parks were full, and we found it difficult to park. The buffets are all very generous, though some meats are a trifle undercooked at the buffet - this can be dangerous when there is honey glazed pork on (Saturday's) menu.
We stayed Sunday night as well, and found that the hotel emptied out after noon on Sunday. The staff are all very courteous and helpful. The speed of checkin was very swift, but due to some internal dept. calculation that had to be done, we were kept waiting on check out.
The choice of pillows was excellent, and afforded a good night's sleep. We were disturbed on the first night by Buddhist chanting in the nearby temple, a DJ at the courtyard Private Lounge which went on well into the night, and a couple of dogs outside.
On the first day, the (toilet) flush was not working properly, but this was fixed before we complained. Our room was 209 - the top fo the basin tap kept dropping off with a clatter, one of the clues why the hotel needs a little more refurbishment work. There was insufficient bath gel in the shower. The LG TV was a little small for a hotel of this calibre, since the duty was dropped substantially recently it would make sense to at least retrofit LED screens into the Deluxe rooms. We enjoyed watching the DVD's that we brought with us. Some lamp fittings in the stairways are falling apart, with lots of rust. That said the place looks quite pretty in the night. We were kept waiting for 20 minutes for pool towels, as the attendant was on a break. As locals, we expect it, but a British or German tourist would be quite shocked, I would imagine.
While we enjoyed our weekend very much, it is clear that a lot more work needs to be done before KHMS upgrades this hotel to their premier Cinnamon brand. Still it is the grand dame of Bentota Resort hotels, and a Kandyan wedding with all the trappings added spectacle to our Sunday.
A highly recommended day trip is the one to the architect of the hotel's sprawling villa, Lunuganga. It is just 4km from this hotel. Geoffrey Bawa was a flamboyant man, who became a star international architect. The tour is worth the Rs. 1,250 ticket, and you can throw in a lunch or an afternoon tea (prebooked) additionally if you want better value.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Situated on the southern coast of Sri Lanka, Bentota Beach by Cinnamon is the perfect getaway from the buzzing city life. The resort specializes on water sports and other adventures at its own Water Sports centre with a variety of activities such as wind surfing, jet skiing, and banana boat riding. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Bentota Beach Hotel Sri Lanka