Located in Kitulgala, the Kitulgala Rest House is just over two hours by car, or about three hours by bus, from Colombo. With a touch of ‘old-world charm’ the rest house is the perfect place to relax in style after a day of whitewater or hiking in what’s fast becoming Sri Lanka’s adventure capital (see Borderlands).
One of the many rest houses managed by Ceylon Hotels Corporation, the Kitulgala Rest House is well known and for good reasons. Known by locals as ‘the location’, the restaurant overlooks the site where the award-winning movie ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai’ was filmed. The view from the rest house is spectacular, overlooking the beautiful Kelani River and a lush forest reserve on the other side of the river.
The Bridge Restaurant is situated in a grand old walauwa, a colonial-style house, and with manicured gardens and the river below, the atmosphere is both regal and relaxing. The restaurant offers a good selection of both eastern and western cuisines, including Sri Lankan favourites, pastas, sandwiches and grilled meats. We tried the club sandwich with fries (not bad, but nothing to rave about) and the old favourite, Sri Lankan rice and curry (Rs.650). The rice and curry was expensive for Rs. 650, but delicious and a generous portion with three different curries and several side dishes. On weekends the Sri Lankan buffet is a good option, offering more variety for an additional Rs.200 (total Rs.850).
For dessert the selection is less exciting, with most options consisting of fruit and curd or icecream. We tried the ‘Seeni Kehel ala Kithulgala’ (Rs.250), a banana split with a Sri Lankan twist – fresh sugar banana with creamy icecream and ketel treacle – deliciously sweet and enough to share between two! There’s also a good selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks from the bar including cocktails, mocktails and wines. Prices vary but most drinks are moderately overpriced.
Though certainly not the cheapest option for a lunch or rest stop, the location and the high quality food and service make it worth your while.