Head to 98 Acres for one of the best views in Ella, says Luke Abrahams
Designed with the Insta-generation in mind, this four-star retreat will tempt and dare you to snap every hut, trail and sunset view you see.
Where is it?
High up in the mountains, in the lush tea region of Ella, Sri Lanka. To say the hotel is off the beaten track is a major overstatement, but if it's seclusion you're after, this one's for you.
The closest mainline station is Ella, a few miles away from the resort and the Insta-famous Nine Arches Bridge. It's easily accessible via a 30-or-so-minute walk, but if you're exploring Sri Lanka like a local, we recommend jumping in a tuk tuk.
Attraction-wise, you're in the right place. Walk, hike or jog for 15 minutes and you'll find yourself at the top of the famous Little Adam's Peak. Two miles further on is Ella Rock and, if you really fancy a hike, Ravana Falls is an easy down hill sprint south of the hotel. The likes of the Uva Halpewaththa Tea Factory, St Mark’s Church and Kataragama Devale are also within easy reach.
Throughout, the resort effortlessly blends into the natural landscape with its charming mish-mash of eco-friendly chalets, huts and villas.
From the reception to the shop, spa and even your bedroom, everything you see, touch and sleep on has either been recycled or reclaimed from the surrounding area. Illuk straw has been used for all the interiors and on the thatched roofs to maintain cool temperatures, while discarded railway sleepers have been put to good use in the making of decks and walls. Aside from its eco-friendly approach, the hotel's perfectly manicured with verdant, well cared for gardens and pretty pathways.
Expect world-class Sri Lankan hospitality served with unlimited smiles and 'ayubowans' ('hello' in Sinhalese). Service throughout was tailored and personal; every member of the team greeted me wherever I went and nothing seemed too much trouble - even when I asked them to remove the spiders from the sink.
There's a pool for the kids to splash about in, a spa, gym and game room complete with a snooker and foosball tables, along with sunrise or sunset yoga lessons on request. If you want to go all out, guests can also take advantage of the onsite helipad, which also offers bookable tours during peak seasons. For those who love to explore, bicycles, motor bikes, three wheelers and buggies can be booked anytime during your stay.
Food wise, there's the romantic Restaurant 98. Expect a continental spread for breakfast, along with traditional Sri Lankan delicacies. At dinner, a wide selection of regional favourites, like fish curry.
Finish it all off with a load of fab ‘Tipsy-T’ mocktails or cocktails at Bar 98. Tip: go at sunset for epic views.
The 25 rooms range from standard to executive, all of which overlook the Ella Gorge and tea plantation. We stayed in a premium deluxe vlla deep in the gorge. From the entrance to the dining room, the luxe pad is tastefully decked out with glossy wood furniture courtesy of local furniture designers and is laid with polished extra titanium floors to keep the space cool.
Queen size beds are made up in the finest and smoothest cotton and come with signature pillow menu at your leisure. You'll also find a tub of complimentary ceylon tea waiting for you on the bedside table, too.
The sitting room is decorated with Sri Lanka art and a comfy couch awaits after a long day of exploring along with a clutter of glossy international magazines. The room also comes with a powerful overhead fan to keep the heat at bay, along with a giant flat screen TV, limitless sealed bottled water and tea and coffee making facilities.
Outside, a generously sized balcony offers incredible panoramic views and is the perfect place to watch the sun go down with a glass or two of champers in hand. The photo possibilities are also endless.
The star of the show is easily the stone-clad bathroom featuring a mammoth rain shower with mountain views. Like me, you'll probably want to spend a few hours in there.
If you've really got the cash, splash out on a grand executive suite. The two-floor apartment features an outdoor dining area looking over the tea plantation, a dedicated butler service and a private plunge pool.
What to Instagram
All of it, but for the sake of your phone's memory Little Adam's Peak, the hotel pool and a misty 5am sunrise. Totally worth it.
Honeymoon couples, Insta-influencers and backpackers with cash to splash.
We stayed at the 98 Acres Resort with Kuoni Travel. The 10-night Gandys trip to Sri Lanka with Kuoni includes return flights, all hotels, experiences and a private driver/guide and costs from £3,136 per person. Breakfast is included throughout as well as some evening meals.
As part of Kuoni’s commitment to responsible travel and giving back, the company has made a donation to the Gandy’s Foundation, specifically for the kids’ campus in Sri Lanka, and £50 from each booking will go to the Gandys Foundation to fund their Orphans for Orphans charitable projects. For more information about the Gandys inspired trip visit the Kuoni website