Spread over a verdant 25-acre property that skirts a reservoir and thick jungle, Cinnamon Lodge is an excellent place to get lost in for a few days. The rooms are plush and the facilities opulent, yet Lodge seems to invite nature in. There were metre-long land monitor lizards skulking around the hotel rooms during my stay, and birds were almost everywhere I looked. Though the hotel can accommodate over 250 guests, the rooms are set so far apart you can reliably find some space for yourself.
The turnoff to Lodge is about 400 metres south of the Habarana Town junction, on the Dambulla-Habarana road (A9). A driveway flanked by greenery opens up into a handsome, colonial-style lobby, replete with tall white columns and lattice screens. Almost every building in the hotel can be thrown open to let the outdoors in, and it’s easy to see why. About 1700 tropical trees throw their shade on the property, and when the rains come, the lake becomes its own attraction.
I went at the back end of the dry season, but as far as I could tell, mosquitoes were tightly controlled. I spent the evening eating and drinking outdoors, but didn’t have a bite to show for it. There are raised platforms attached to trees all over the property where you can take your meals, at a cost.
I didn’t take a dip in the pool, but lined by Royal Palms from which parrots twittered in the evening, it sure looked inviting.
I had a deluxe room, which costs about Rs. 27,000 per night on half-board basis, and was almost literally fit for a king. The bed was large, comfortable, and set on the kind of raised platform that were all the rage during the Pollonnaruwa and Anuradhapura periods.
The room was also spacious and bedecked with ornate wooden furniture. I was surprised to find that my room had not one, but two balconies, running parallel on either side of the room.
The bathroom wasn’t enormous, but was fitted with a rainfall shower and a large bath. The most interesting feature was perhaps the U-shaped mirror, made with three separate panels. If you want to let your inner Ravana out, you can stand in one spot and see seven reflections of yourself.
I was treated to a sneak-preview of the “Contemporary Sri Lankan” menu that will be launched in October. Effectively, Lodge has given Sri Lankan ingredients and flavours a European fine-dining treatment. The results are interesting, and are likely to please the foreign crowd. The tamarind gratina— which is meant to cleanse the palate before the main course—was a highlight. There was also a piece of thalapath served with a pleasant turmeric sauce and a properly spicy achcharu.
If you’re after more authentic fare, the gigantic buffet is your friend. There are also pasta and grilled meat stations, a salad bar, and a room set aside entirely for desserts. I didn’t dip into the buffet for dinner, but its breakfast offerings were respectable, with tasty iterations of Sri Lankan and western classics.
Lodge’s philosophy is as green as its grounds. It’s a fancy hotel, so the bills and its impact on the environment will always be substantial, but they do make an effort to minimise their footprint. Most outdoor lights are sensor-operated, so they don’t burn away into the night. There is an organic farm on the property, and they even treat their own sewerage, then use that water for their gardens.
Cinnamon Lodge is a lovely place to unwind. If you have a lavish budget and a hankering to explore the cultural triangle, Habarana is also a centrally-located place to set up base. The Minneriya National park is also close by. As this is a John Keells Hotel, locals are likely to find discounts via various banks and credit cards as well.