Elephant Corridor is a luxury boutique hotel squeezed by jungle, in sight of Sigiriya. It has been open since the late 90s, which staff say makes it the oldest boutique hotel on the island. Set on vast premises featuring only 22 rooms (including two villas), the hotel is ideal for a few days of seclusion.
The turnoff to Elephant Corridor is on the road to Sigiriya, which shoots off the A9 just beyond Dambulla. And it is the hotel’s location that is its massive strength. The spacious open lobby provides a lovely view of Sigiriya, and it’s tough to take your eyes off the scenery when dining in the restaurant above.
I’m told the occasional elephant can emerge from the surrounding jungle, but the staff are said to be adept at keeping both guests and wildlife safe. My room overlooked hectares of scrubland, beyond which there was a lake, which herons visited in the evening, and water buffalo took a dip in next day. As Corridor can only host about 50 guests, the place can be enchantingly serene. During my stay I saw a few rabbits racing around the property, a few deer in the distance, and all manner of birds.
The buildings are a little spread apart, and the pool is about 200 metres from the main complex. The hotel does provide bicycles to ride around, and even a golf cart to transport your belongings.
I had a “super deluxe suite” which of course was the least fancy room on offer. It was grand, and laid out with antique furniture, but the décor did seem a little tired. I wouldn’t usually complain, but since a room here costs a whopping 33,000 rupees a night (full board), I feel a little justified in grousing about this. There was also a smattering of black fluff on my sheets when I arrived, which was totally harmless, but you come to expect a little better.
This is not to say my stay was unsatisfactory. Far from it, for there are some supremely redemptory features that make the rooms as enjoyable as the location. Each room, even my “super deluxe suite” is fitted with a plunge pool, and the better the room, the bigger the pool.
The bathroom was also vast and pretty, dressed up in turquoise tiles, quaint ornamental nic-nacs.
There is a set menu for each meal at Corridor, though you may choose between dishes that feature Sri Lankan or European flavours. I went with the Sri Lankan-style dishes for dinner, and was underwhelmed. They had prepared traditional Sri Lankan ingredients in a Western style, but the food was a little bit bland. They did have an excellent red house wine, however.
The Western breakfast was significantly better. They delivered a tasty eggs benedict, replete with a creamy hollandaise sauce, and crispy bacon. There was also a good spread of breads, which included cake and a doughnut.
I didn’t have time to explore all of the hotel’s delights, but I’m reliably told that there are excellent nature walks that begin in the hotel’s premises, as well as a quad bike track for the more adventurous. In addition to all this, there are the cultural triangle’s many treasures, most of which are within 90 minutes’ drive.
There are some minor drawbacks to Elephant Corridor, but it excels so emphatically in other areas that its foibles are easily forgiven. It strikes me as an excellent place for a romantic weekend, or even a honeymoon, though an expensive one.