I booked the Grosvenor Hotel for 3 nights/4 days during the middle of April 2012, which is widely known to be the busiest month of the Nuwara Eliya season. Thousands of city dwellers, mostly from Colombo but also from around the country, flock to the cool climes of Nuwara Eliya during the months of March, April & May with the peak visitors coming during the Avurudu (Traditional Sinhala & Tamil New Year in mid-April) holiday period. This results in hotel room prices skyrocketing, sometimes to absurd, jaw-dropping rates.
I reserved the hotel over the phone from Colombo about 2 days prior to arrival and was caught off guard by two lucky breaks. Firstly, I was surprised to find out that the rooms were available, given that it was the peak period of the “Nuwara Eliya Season”. Secondly, during my telephone conversation I enquired about the need to pay an advance but was told that I need not pay an advance and that I could pay on completion of my holiday ! This is quite a refreshing approach to the traditional method of local hotels where they ask for an “advance payment” to be deposited to their bank to confirm the reservation. Such was my level of surprise that I enquired thrice during the same conversation “Are you sure I will have my room when I arrive there?”
The rate of LKR 7,700 for B&B seemed fairly decent considering the fact that the 2 other hotels that I called up asked for up to 3 times that price for the same period. I requested for a hotel with a view and was given a room (Room No.15) overlooking the race course which was, I suppose, the best view the hotel had. The hotel is a brisk 10min walk away from the City centre and hence we found ourselves leaving the car at the hotel and walking up & down to the city. Traffic during the season is pretty bad, with parking in the city a big challenge, so it was nice to stay over at a hotel that is so close to the city.
The room was very spacious with twin beds coupled together to make a double bed. There was a quaint fireplace, which unfortunately we did not light up despite staying for 3 nights. The bathroom was clean and boasted of a bathtub, which was quite refreshing in this sort of hotel. The hot water lacked consistency throughout our visit but we were able to manage. I was not happy with the flimsy door lock. Luckily they had backed it up with a latch that helped to make it more secure. The beds were comfy if not outstanding and we managed to sleep well over all 3 nights, aided by the cool weather of Nuwara Eliya of course.
Meals were acceptable, but none of the meals or dishes stood out. The garlic toast was too “garlic-cy” for our liking and the crumb fried fish smelled a bit too “fishy”, according to my wife, who mind you hates fish that smells weird. Breakfast was always Sri Lankan and we were served Bread, Dhal Curry, Pol Sambol & Sri Lankan Omelette. On our travels we are used to more of the Western Breakfasts of cornflakes, waffles, bacon & eggs etc., but alas that was not to be here. Meals were almost always about half an hour late so make sure you order early. Although there is a restaurant, we had all our meals in the convenience of our room. Maybe that explained the delay in sending the meals to us on time. It could be that the staff was busy in the restaurant during meal times. But we did not make a fuss about it and the most we had to wait was 45min.
Our room did not have a TV so we had to make do with the common TV in the Bar area. The TV had cable with ESPN, which meant that I was able to watch my team Arsenal play Chelsea in their Premier League encounter without having to leave the hotel and finding a fancier place. Luckily, when the match kicked off at 5pm there was no one watching TV so I was happily able to watch a drab 0-0 draw wearing-my Arsenal shirt !
Overall, the hotel was a good experience and I would recommend it for individuals who are looking for a value for money experience. I was told that during the “off-season” the room rates drop down to Rs.5,000 a night for Room Only, although personally I was expecting it to be around the Rs.4,000 mark. Our final hotel bill came to around Rs.25,000 with the meals that we ordered. For 3 nights/4 days in Nuwara Eliya that is a very reasonable amount indeed.
In conclusion, I would say that the Grosvenor, while not being too fancy or luxurious, is an ideal, quaint little hotel to stay over during the season. I look forward to experiencing the hotel during the off-season so that I will be able to make a good comparison between the two.