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Mowbrey House, Kandy

Words and photography: Lee Osborne



The gnarly fig tree, Kandy

This decadent Art Deco property, set amid 3.7 acres, feels more like a private residence than a boutique hotel. Your route from the centre of efficacious Kandy (itself, like a bustling Indianesque metropolis in miniature form) takes you past the grand old Queen’s Hotel that borders Kandy’s iconic jewel-like lake. From here it’s on past the amphitheatre at the University of Peradeniyaand the eye-popping gnarly fig tree across the road whose branches extend like octopuses tentacles (pictured inset), and an onwards spiral out of town. 

“we pass the eye-popping gnarly fig tree whose branches extend like octopuses tentacles , and an onwards spiral out of town”. 


Clockwise from main image: Mowbrey’s wonderful pool with a view; rice and curry; breakfast set up; local life; Mowbrey’s iconic blue olive tree; the copper roofed art deco house

Mowbrey House is owned by two cricket-loving Brits and managed by the
delightful Druvi Gunasekera of Boutiques in Sri Lanka. It’s a vision of little
England set in lush green hills high above Kandy, the last capital of the ancient Kings’ of Sri Lanka. From the moment you arrive you are waited on by Mowbrey’s
attentive staff, adorned in matching blue polo shirts and sarongs. One is a newbie having recently graduated from university in London, while another’s claim to fame is starring in an Indiana Jones movie that was filmed on the teardrop island. You’re served a welcome drink and a snack you’re unlikely to come across too often – a ramekin filled with the property’s very own blue olives. Not only is ‘Luvi’, real name Maxwell (the actor), a great cook, he’s a dab hand at crafting cutlery out of coconut shells, mementos that are charmingly left on your pillow at night.


1. Wacko Maria Palms Camp-Collar Printed Voile Shirt, £380 | 2. Kinsman x
Cutler And Gross
D-Frame Acetate And Silver-Tone Sunglasses, £310 | 3. Beams
Baker Slim-Fit Canvas Shorts, £95 | 4. Anderson’s Leather-Trimmed Suede Tote Bag, £520 | 5. Borsalino Grosgrain-Trimmed Straw Panama Hat, £155 |
6. Vans Old Skool Leather-Trimmed Canvas And Suede Sneakers, £55
All mr.poter.com

The property is 2-tiered, with a narrow road running in between. On the upper tier lies the copper-roofed house itself with its beautifully manicured lawns and spice and herb gardens, framed by mountain ferns and iridessant greenery. From here it’s a two-minute stroll down to the pool, . Be sure to pause for a moment though, take tea (BOPF of course) and drink in the view from the terrace above before you saunter down for that invigorating dip. A family of monkeys come to investigate while performing their very own rendition of the flying trapeze in the trees high above! Meanwhile a tropical symphony plays out before your very eyes in fifty shades of tinted green that lend a rather ink blotter-like quality to the landscape. Imagine that oft-photographed scene in Began, Burma, minus the air balloons, and you get a similar awe-inspiring misty view.

A family of monkeys come to investigate while performing their very own rendition of the flying trapeze in the trees high above!

There are four bedrooms at Mowbrey House, two of which are suites, each
generously proportioned, as you would expect from a house of this size. We stayed in the 2 suites, which flank the spacious dining area. In keeping with its owner’s passion there are bedside tomes of the Wisden Cricketer’s Almanack and the History of Kandy Golf and Country Club to name but two. Breakfast and dinner, bespoke to your requirements, are served out on the veranda to a soundtrack of cicadas and welcome hill breezes. The dishes, including delicious rice and curries, were among the best we had on the island.

It’s possible to arrange a visit to the local village to immerse yourself in a spot of vernacular culture. Mothers with babes-in-arms, alongside elderly ladies with leather-like complexions, shrouded in vivid saris, will gladly give you guided tours of their modest abodes. While the children will proudly perform renditions of English rhymes that Druvi has kindly taught them.


Above: Inside the workshop at Handuni’s Gems & Jewellery, Kandy. Right: crafting wonderful furniture and homewares at Oak Ray Handcrafted Wood Carvings, Kandy

Mowbrey House is a great base in which to explore the delights of Kandy (a 30-40-minute drive) that include the sacred Buddhist site of The Temple of the Tooth and its surrounding Bogambara Lake, The Botanical Gardens, numerous gem and wood carving factories, as well as those slightly further afield such as the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage in Rambukkana – just an hour away.


511/12 Mowbrey Estate, Mahakanda, Hindagala, Peradenya, Kandy 20000, Sri Lanka
| Book via Boutiques in Sri Lanka |  Resort +94 081-2059 377  |
Mobile +94 77 3887260