Jaffna's tourism scene isn't quite established yet, which means that the accommodation options aren't too extensive. Fits Margosa in Chunnakam, Jaffna is an elegant refurbished 19th Century mansion about 9km away from the main town, and possibly one of the only upscale hotels at the very North.
The rooms are tastefully appointed, with brushed cement floors, and clean white walls offset with wooden furniture and bold Barefoot-eqsue colour-blocked fabrics. The hotel has 6 rooms in total, all air conditioned and equipped with cable TVs and en suite bathrooms. The bathrooms are quite lovely, bigger than the actual rooms themselves, with a al fresco rainwater shower and a little courtyard in the middle.
The vibe is quite elegant yet somehow earthy, which we enjoyed. The one problem was that a couple of poisonous centipedes made their way inside, which is pretty impossible to avoid from the management's side but something to watch out for nevertheless. A bird also ate some soap from the bathroom which was kind of exciting in a National Geographic sort of way. Apart from the accidental wildlife escapades, the double room had comfy queen size beds set on cement blocks, which made for some seriously good sleep. I'm not usually an A/C fan either, but in the scorching Jaffna heat it's heaven-sent.
Premises & Decor
The hotel itself follows traditional aristocratic Dravidian architectural lines, set on about an acre of landscaped land. ExpoLanka is considering an expansion in the near future, which would be a great idea as the area develops further.
The hotel has a little courtyard featuring what may have originally been the family well, surrounded by the dining area, which is then surrounded by the rooms. It's open and airy, and has a cosy traditional feel to it while maintaining a chic modern ambience.
The house chef makes both Lankan and continental fare, although Jaffna cuisine is a must-try. Meals are made according to your timings and preferences, which makes travelling during the day flexible. The food comes in generous portions, and has a lot of spices while not being spicy per se. We enjoyed their local fare, the thosai and hoppers came with steaming bowls of chicken curry, dhal and vegetables.
We ordered some additional bites during the evening like the classic french fries and devilled chicken combination, which were reasonable at Rs. 300 and Rs. 500 respectively.
I'd recommend going for a half board deal here - grab breakfast and then leave on your adventures around Jaffna, then return for a nice shower and good dinner spread.
The service is what you'd expect from a small converted mansion-boutique hotel sort of place. The staff consists of very polite and somewhat shy local Jaffna youth. They're helpful and very very eager, although their English isn't spectacular, they can communicate the basics. Attentive yet not obsequious.
Jaffna is one of those places you need to get hot and dusty to really appreciate. Lots of walking, lots of barefoot temple expeditions, and definitely a bus experience or two. At the end of all that, a beautiful hotel with a rainwater shower and a/c is just heaven-sent. You feel like you've earned it. Margosa fulfills all the basic luxury expectations whilst keeping a certain earthy Northern charm.
Fair warning: It is pretty far to get around by public transport - the bus is only for seasoned travellers and takes at least 35 mins just to reach town. Tuk tuks will charge you a minimum of Rs. 700 to get to town, which is exorbitant! Most patrons at the hotel appear to be on full packages where everything is taken care of, which is less painful.
Their rates are about Rs. 13,000 for a standard triple room on B&B, although this is subject to variations. If you want the deluxe room or need to check the rates for a particular date, it's better just to call them up.