Can't recommend, run by a nincompoop
We are a group of three friends travelling around Sri Lanka. We thought that the elephant stables would be a nice, pretty place to stay in Kandy but in the end we were glad to leave.
Anyone who has been to Sri Lanka will become familiar with smiling, friendly staff and their haphazard, almost charming way of getting things done (or not). We are a relaxed group and not on a very tight schedule so happy to go with the flow most of the time.
Here however, incompetence was taken to a new level. Given the price of the place, we would have expected much better as well. The staff were thin in the ground, slow and a bit forgetful but quite sweet as well. The real issue here is the smiling buffoon of a manager who can't do much more than call a taxi and add up the bill.
Our first night in the hotel we were very impressed by how pretty the room was and the lovely big bed. We hadn't even noticed that there was no blanket or duvet on it. The weather can be quite cold in Kandy at night so this wasn't a small detail.
We realised that there was no duvet, blanket or sheet just as we went to bed and called housekeeping on a cell phone to bring something. They didn't reply to our repeated phone calls for the next hour. We then decided to disturb the manager and call his mobile as there was no one to be found on site. Finally, after several attempts he replied and promised to solve the problem. We were tired, cold and desperate to get to bed. After waiting for another hour, nobody came.
We slept dressed in jumpers and covered by a sarong in the end until finally the staff came in the morning and we manage to procure a duvet for a couple of hours of sleep. The duvet was actually only a single one but by that stage we were too tired to do anything.
The next morning the manager asked how we slept and told us off for waking him up late at night! We couldn't understand how a hotel charging US$ 200 a night could allow it's guests to sleep in such conditions and how the manager knew about the problem and didn't do anything. He explained that he had tried to reach house keeping without success and so had gone back to sleep.
The attitude was that we had paid and it wasn't his problem if there was no blanket in the room. Even after we got sick from being so cold there was no apology. After all of this we still had to ask three times to be brought a large, double duvet in time for the second night.
Apart from that, we were asked for cigarettes by waiters and overcharged for absolutely everything compared to other hotel prices, especially the evening meal which was three times more expensive than any other menu item and not stated previously. The constant obsequious rip off mentality was tiring.
The hotel manager did organise a day driver for us and a driver to continue our trip up north. The day driver turned out to be a sort of con merchant, taking us to supposedly better places than we had on our itinerary that turned out to be disappointing. He was probably making commissions on entrance fees and sales.
Absolutely to be avoided is Millenium elephant orphanage that was little more than a couple of "tamed" and chained elephants walking people around a dirty pond. Pinnewala looks much better even if it also receives mixed reviews.
Then we got taken to an Ayurveda place by the driver to be pumped for more money and presumably attached commissions.
The driver to take us up North seems OK so far; he knows the roads and the places and drives quite well.
The price paid for each of the drivers was in the higher range of what we would have expected based on other offers.
On departure we saw all the overpriced bill items, reflected on our stay and felt that it wasn't justified. We asked for a discount on the first night to reflect the low standards but the manager was unwilling to provide it. After a lot of pushing on our side and some embarrassing offers from him (free bottle of wine? Cigarettes?) we eventually got him to take off the relatively expensively priced evening meal and settled at that.
We left feeling that this was probably a successful business: charging high prices, marketing well and up selling everything but where the client experience is decidedly a secondary concern. It seems like a fairly new place so perhaps it will settle down in time but based on our experience we definitely can't recommend it.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Elephant Stables is a beautiful colonial era bungalow on a hill overlooking Kandy city that has been converted into a luxurious boutique hotel offering elegant colonial style living in Sri Lanka. It features a unique blend of original mid-century furniture with modern chic interiors with an exceptional level of personalized service. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
- TripAdvisor is proud to partner with Expedia, Booking.com, Hotels.com, Ebookers, Agoda, Odigeo and Evoline ltd so you can book your Elephant Stables reservations with confidence. We help millions of travellers each month to find the perfect hotel for both holiday and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.