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Helga's Folly
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Reviews (599)
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Reviewed 28 September 2009

I enjoyed my second stay at the Folly all the more for being warmly welcomed back by Helga, her husband Desmond and the staff as part of the family. I was invited along with other guests to join in for Helga’s glamorous candlelit birthday dinner where we sampled a memorable baked crab dish and the yummiest Christmas pudding I think I’ve ever tasted (a Helga birthday tradition!). The local Kandy crowd were all exotically attired and included many a jaunty raconteur. Helga was enormously kind in arranging for me to accompany local doctors on 'health camp' expeditions into the jungle and I also made a trip down to Agars Land: Desmond’s tea estate on the slopes of Adam's Peak, which is one of the oldest in the country. I loved my stay in their cottage on the estate, which is exquisitely furnished with daybeds and with glowing red and orange hangings depicting Sri Lankan warriors. The drive down and the surrounding landscape were spectacular. While there are lots of worthwhile daytrips on the tourist circuit which can be made from the Folly - the cave temples at Dambulla, the rock fortress at Sigiriya, game parks, venerable hill clubs and elephant orphanages are all within several hours’ drive - I do recommend blanking out a few days on your travel itinerary in readiness for unique adventures.

  • Stayed: August 2009
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4  Thank 1000melanie1000
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 16 September 2009

We stayed 4 days at Helgas Folly in August, having read about the hotel in several guide books. From what we had read and their web site, we were fascinated and decided to book this hotel in Kandy rather than a standard guest house or soulful hotel. True : even though the war has ended, tourism is dead in Sri Lanka - hence ALL hotels (if still open and functioning) have no guests. We were charmed and cannot voice one complaint. We are amazed to read some of the remarks here and just wonder what these complainants were expecting because Helga's is clearly written everywhere as being "an eccentric experience" which it surely is. It is not a big hotel (more like a someone's large private house which in the UK we would call a "boutique hotel"), has really friendly staff and we couldn't complain about the food at all. The menu has amazing choice and tasted good. There were quite a few guests staying at the same time as us so our stay turned into a lovely house party - meeting new friends. I have to say that our stay at Helgas was the highlight of our tour in SL.

Incidentaly we didn't notice a smell, see a cockroach (although a monkey did a poo on our hire car roof) or notice any dust or dirt. It was just fab, fab, fab and will go back again if we ever visit Sri Lanka in the future when tourism picks up.

  • Stayed: August 2009, travelled as a couple
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7  Thank Malabar
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 September 2009

Helga's Folly is not for imature or griping tourists. It is for sophisticated travellers who don't shirek when they see a monkey or an ant on the drive. There are tedious reviewers who seems to show astonishment at being in a rural idyll in Kandy and wonder why everything isn't the same as 'back home'. If you love the real Sri Lanka, are willing to be surprised and delighted by a beautiful and laid back natural environment in a home from home which is NOT a faceless, pristine 5 star hotel...but a glorious experience, then I urge you to try Helga's Folly. At Helga's it is discreet, private and homely. You can walk around with bananas on your ears and no one would mind. I always feel 100 percent relqxed here as does my 12 year old son and husband. We would not want the Folly to be anything but a Folly...the brainchild of brilliant Helga who wafts around the establishment with cheerful insouciance, kindness and the style of a latter day Coco Chanel. If you're an inexperience traveller with a love of plastic hotels, please do not visit.

  • Stayed: January 2009, travelled with family
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4  Thank freethespirit
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 6 September 2009

We were two families travelling around Sri Lanka last xmas and having read about Helgas Folly over the years decided to treat ourselves to 3 nights here. We have all travelled extensively and stayed in Back packers and 5 star palaces. Nothing prepared us for how we had been taken in by the hype surronding this place. Being the only guests there at peak season was disconcerting and we rattled around in the cavernous dusty place like something out of a surreal film. The food served on our first night was for the most part inedible, not just plain or boring but horrible!
The rooms were 'interesting' but dirty and had cockroaches. Dirty malfunctioning bathrooms are neither fun nor quirky, I really don't think it is too much to expect a warm bath or working shower when you are paying these prices.
The pool area was lethal with dangerous slippy tiles all around, missing mosaics and an unfenced drop on to metal stairs or stone just yards from the edge of the pool. We could not even let our older children go there without an adult as we were having to constantly remind them not to walk near the edge. This was a major downside and had I known about the state of the pool I certainly would not have booked to stay here.
Helgas seems to pride itself on a reputation earnt 20 years ago, but nothing has changed and we felt tricked by the marketing. None of us wanted to stay in a faceless 5 star hotel and be served English food as they like to bang on about if people dare to complain. However when you are paying over $2000 for 3 adults and 6 children for 3 nights one should expect: good food, clean, safe surrondings and working bathrooms. We filed a questionaire at the end of the stay, reflecting pretty much the above and received back a condecending reply but no apology for the fact we had blown the budget and had not enjoyed it.

  • Stayed: December 2008, travelled with family
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7  Thank kentlisa
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 April 2009

Helga's Folly has a fascinating history, bewitching decor, quirky and unusually obliging staff, a private cinema and the best views of anywhere I stayed during my trip. I had a fantastic stay there, and felt comfortable and very well looked after - but then again I did not go expecting Caesar salads on room service and state of the art American bathroom fixtures . Had the people who wrote the last reviews taken a cursory look at the guide books before booking, surely they wouldn't have either. I don't see how one can complain about paying $120 a night to stay in such a charming and eccentrically luxurious place...it's rather like complaining about having invested time in reading a Dickens or Tolstoy novel because it has too few erotic scenes.

  • Stayed: April 2009, travelled solo
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9  Thank Julia1605
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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