Instead of staying in Sigiraya for the cultural part of our trip in Sri Lanka, I decided to stay in Polonnaruwa because that is where the ancient capital’s ruins are, plus the elephant parks are not too far (le hubby has never seen elephants out of a zoo). For its rooms, location, and facilities, it was surprising that the hotel was cheaper than the other options available, so I was a little hesitant to book it. But after combing through reviews on Tripadvisor, I found out that the place had just undergone a renovation and was the opposite of the negative reviews online. Find out more about this charming hotel and see the Royal Suite, where Queen Elizabeth II stayed during her visit in this part of Sri Lanka.
Ekho Lake House is located in Polonnaruwa, on the banks of the Parakrama Samudra and a 55 km drive from Sigiraya. Parakrama Samudra, a man-made lake or reservoir, is an amazing engineering feat. The lake, and is quite huge. In fact, its Sinhalese name means Sea of King Parakrama in English. The reservoir was built in 386 AD and expanded by the Sri Lankan king Parakramabahu I in the 12th century. The hotel has a panoramic view of the lake and is most beautifully viewed at sunset. Look out for wild animals in the sunrise or sunset and you may spot an elephant in the distance if you are lucky.
The newly renovated hotel features 13 rooms and, of course, the Royal Suite: the original suite of the Queen of England in 1954. We stayed in a Superior room with a Lake View (the other being ‘Ancient View’ where you’d have a view of the ancient ruins). Our room had a veranda and garden terrace facing Parakrama Samudra. The rooms are decorated in old colonial style: think dark-chocolate colored wooden armoires, headboards, bedside furniture, and desks; there is even a dressing table inside the bathroom. From the outside, Deluxe rooms looked bigger; plus they had direct access to the pool. I walked around to take photos of the Royal Suite and it looked almost the same as the rest of the hotel, except that it was private (it was separated from the rest of the property by a wooden panel), was obviously bigger, and had an outdoor bathtub (think of all the Instagram opportunities).
There was a small swimming pool overlooking the lake but it was quite long enough to make a couple of laps. We stayed here on one afternoon’s sunset to look for elephants on the other side of the lake (we found spiders instead which freaked le hubby, hehe). They also had a lounge for resting, if you’d had enough of your room; we were welcomed and served drinks here. They also have an on-site restaurant, which is located practically on top of the water with walls made of glass so you see everything around you during the day. On the night of our anniversary, we were supposed to eat outside by the pool, but was advised against the heat (and mosquitoes). The hotel also has a big open courtyard, so you never feel enclosed.
Breakfast was served plated rather than buffet style, but it was a good dish of savory dishes, a bread basket, and a fruit platter each for le hubby and me. The food is usually served in the restaurant but can be served in the room, as we did on the last morning before we left. We had our anniversary dinner in the restaurant as well, and we were able to eat some really spicy Sri Lankan dishes. The restaurant also baked us a chocolate cake for dessert, which was both a sweet delight and a sweet gesture.
The people of Ekho Lake House are especially wonderful. While I forgot his name, I cannot forget the smiling face of the hotel manager who ‘saved’ our anniversary celebrations. Backstory: le hubby had asked me whether I wanted a surprise for our anniversary and I said it was not needed, which is a woman’s way of saying “YES” (le hubby is a little silly to think otherwise). To make up for his ‘mistake’, he talked to the hotel manager and he worked his magic. When we returned from our elephant safari, we were greeted with an adorable heart-shaped bed of roses on our bed. He also helped in organizing our anniversary dinner (although, sadly, we were not able to eat outside). The restaurant staff also baked for us a mini chocolate cake complete with an anniversary greeting in frosting and a candle. In all of my hotel stays, the staff are always the ones to make or save good and bad experiences, and it was the same for the people at Ekho Lake House, who made our first year anniversary a memorable one.
I booked this hotel via Booking.com. Get 10% off your stay when you book using my link.