May 01 2023. views 401
The Sigiriya Village Hotel stands parallel to the most majestic visual all of Dambulla can offer – the sacred Sigiriya Lion Rock. The village-themed resort situated in the shadows of the Sigiriya Rock Fortress, discreetly nestled within the protected confines of its natural forest reserves is one of the few hotels in the area that can boast a privileged, unobstructed view of the sacred rock as the backdrop to its property.
Built in 1980, the Sigiriya Village Hotel was the first ever hotel to be owned and managed by Colombo Fort Hotels, a hospitality arm of York Hotel Management Services Limited. The hotel oozes unpretentious charm: simulating the traditional structure of a village in Sri Lanka, where guests enjoy luxury accommodation that seamlessly blends into the nature it’s built within. The hotel’s flawless marriage with its surroundings comes as little to no surprise as the Sigiriya Village was one of the earliest landscape projects done by Bevis Bawa, the brother of Geoffrey Bawa, assisted together with landscape designer and artist Laki Senanayake to create the ‘village gardens’ that is the Sigiriya Village Hotel.
The Sigiriya Village Hotel is a 26-acre property located 10 minutes from the Lion Rock and a 40-minute drive to Dambulla. The hotel has 120 rooms built as individual cabin houses and divided into six clusters, each with a unique theme true to the village-style concept of the hotel. The main house, titled the ‘Raja Sabhawa’ houses the lobby area, the restaurant, the bar and the swimming pool – all overlooking the majestic lion rock.
Beyond the main house, the 120 rooms branch out across 6 corners of the property, each cluster isolated from each other yet connected by paths that lead to the main area. The 6 clusters house 20 cabins each and are categorized into classic, superior and deluxe categories with each cluster having its own exclusive theme and colour that offers guests six uniquely different experiences. In the classic category stands the Kingfisher and Paddy Field cluster (both currently under renovation) and the Temple cluster and offers the most serenely peaceful spaces for guests. The superior category includes the Avurudu cluster (a space converted into a festive arena with its own waterfall and intricate touches that are reminiscent of Sri Lanka’s new year traditions) and the Ganga Addara cluster with its own mini-lake that runs through the cluster. The deluxe category, which is the highest category of rooms at the hotel, is housed in the King’s Arbour cluster which pays an ode to the history of the Sigiriya fortress, tastefully designed to reflect accommodations fit for a king and tucked away in a mock fortress of its own made with bricks that are resemblant of the actual structures one would find atop the Sigiriya rock.
In addition to the clusters, gardens and ponds, the property also has a badminton court, a mini cricket ground and its own Ayurveda Center and farm.
A property with over 40 years of history, the Sigiriya Village Hotel unapologetically stays true to its rustic village charm while offering all the luxury amenities and comforts necessary for a comfortable stay. The hotel has not attempted to modernize itself over the years but has stuck with its traditional façade while upgrading its amenities as needed to offer its guests a relaxing vacation.
Our cabin at the King’s Arbour cluster, the highest category of rooms available at the Sigiriya Village, was similar to a suite with our own mini pond and private patio. Inside, a king-size bed, shower and bathtub with hot and cold water, satellite TV, air conditioning and woven reclining chairs as well as a minibar and tea/coffee maker. Outside, we could sit on our reclining chairs, and sip a cup of tea while observing the monkeys that roam the property like it is their own home. The cabin had every amenity we needed for our stay while providing us with a unique themed experience that remained consistent with the village garden theme of the hotel.
FOOD & DRINKS
The Sigiriya Village Hotel has one restaurant that offers buffet-style dining and a la carte. Housed at the main house, the restaurant stands poolside and is privy to the much-coveted view of the Sigiriya Rock. The buffet spread includes a variety of soups, starters, mains and desserts and a la carte dining presents itself as either a four-course meal or anything off the menu.
Also at the main Raja Sabhawa house is the bar with a range of signature cocktails/mocktails. The signature drinks also don’t stray from the theme of the hotel, aptly named the ‘Sigiri Apsara’, ‘Kibissa’, ‘Dingiri Banda’ and ‘Goviya’ to name a few. Our favourite signature drink of choice was their ‘Kibissa’; a passion fruit concoction that was instantly cooling in the heat and humidity of Dambulla.
Beyond the usual dining scene at the main house, the Sigiriya Village offers guests a unique dining experience that truly encompasses the style and spirit of the hotel and the area. Their ‘Ambula’ style dining was one of our favourite experiences during our stay, where the hotel will arrange lunch for guests at their Paddy Field cluster simulating a real-life ambula experience with men working on the mini paddy field while buffalos graze on the paddy and women, decked in traditional reddai hattai offer rice and curry served onto lotus leaves. The hotel’s executive chef, Samarakoon Banda, has been with the hotel since its inception and while he’s perfected all kinds of cuisines, his traditional Sri Lankan curries and staples are mouth-wateringly divine. The ambula lunch is also served buffet style, with a variety of local dishes and curries including fried lake fish and other traditional sweetmeats. The Ambula-style dining is an experience every guest must enjoy for themselves while at the Sigiriya Village.
Though we visit many stunning hotel properties with all the luxuries and comforts they can offer, we have always maintained that it is the service and hospitality of the staff at the hotel that has the ability to take a normal vacation and make it into one guests will always remember. The Sigiriya Village Hotel easily made our vacation the latter, delivering some of the most down-to-earth and naturally affable hospitality we’ve experienced.
Hospitality is all in the little things and there were so many staff at the hotel that went out of their way to accommodate us, even while off the clock. Podimanike, our masseuse at the Ayurvedic Centre was all smiles while she expertly kneaded out the stress and the tension from our body after a long day of walking and exploring. Lakshman, our bartender, who captivated us with incredible stories and folklore of the area while in conversation, took his day off the very next day to guide us through our early morning excursions in the fortress and offer us local insight.
Most of the staff at the hotel are locals from the area, many of them have joined the hotel in their youth and have stayed ever since; an indicator to us that they love the place they work at. Some, like Chef Samarakoon Banda have been with the hotel since 1980 and is closing in on 44 years of service at the Sigiriya Village while others like our bartender Lakshman have been working at the hotel for 18 years and swears he can’t leave it behind, having watched the hotel grow over the years.
Their love and loyalty to this hotel transcends into their service and we had the pleasure of coming to this hotel as strangers and leaving as friends.
The Sigirya Village is a beautiful property that offers guests a unique experience during their stay that is true to the history and locality of the area. The beautifully designed property, fantastic dining experiences, comfortable accommodations and the most obliging staff ensured that we would find ourselves returning to this hotel in the future.
Address: Hotel Road, Sigiriya
Contact: 0662 286 803