An Oxford educated Ceylonese gentleman, Mr Selviah, trekking with his Irish sweetheart Bonnie, stopped to catch a breath and stumbled upon this fascinating location, and promptly named it "˜Bonnieland'.
The dressed stone cottage built in 1908 still stands rock solid, overlooking Badulla town. The bridle paths in the lower and upper gardens offer excellent morning exercise with scenic mountain views. A mahogany tree lined driveway leads to the cottage and a further 17 acres of coffee, spices and mahogany. The gardens urge you to reach for a botanical textbook.
Breakfast tea on the front pavilion reveals the glorious sight of overhanging passion fruits and flowers growing beside the beautiful Pride of Burma tree.
Old Panama hats, stags' heads and Burmese silk tapestries vie for attention in the 3 sitting rooms. From the minute you enter this charming holiday home of Mr & Mrs De Mel, you will be transported to halcyon days. Boasting the hottest climate and cleanest air, Badulla is a peaceful setting to relax and recharge the batteries. Easy walks, ancient temples, living monasteries and tea estates are all close by.
Accommodating up to 6 people, this is a perfect retreat for retired couples, bird lovers or gardeners, who are often all three.
Bonnieland focuses on relaxation and "˜easy living'. Three living areas - the "˜tower' room, the study library and the TV lounge - offer something for everyone and every nationality.
Board games, bridge and many books provide constant entertainment.
Polished floors, furnishings with pretty fabrics and ancestral furniture form an attractive backdrop to the family memorabilia and portraits tucked into every nook and cranny.
Retire to the three bedrooms, simply decorated in colonial style with the emphasis on informality and comfort. Each room has views onto the Mounts of Namunukula (nine peaks) or Badulla town. Each has a private or semi-attached shower room. The rooms have no fan or nets but the climate is cool in the evenings and does not attract mosquitoes.
Yellow Suite: Two single beds with floral bedspreads in one room, leading through an archway to a summer room with another single bed. Bay windows open onto the landscaped gardens of wild ginger trees and rock gardens. The views are not so great.
Pink Triple: This Old English style twin bedroom has soft pink furnishings and wonderful views over the twinkling town and misty mountains. A third antique brass single bed is ideal for young children. The bathroom is opposite.
Blue Twin: A cosy room with a double bed . Morning sunshine and superb views of the tropical gardens and mountains beyond. The bathroom is adjacent.
The bungalow feels like home. The loyal housekeeper and chef mingle with guests as in a natural home environment. The housekeeper and Sinnika (when she visits), are charming hosts. Sinnika, native to Finland, has lived as a planter's wife for over 30 years and understands the countryside.
There is a spacious dining table that seats 8 comfortably, with an extension for 12. We preferred to eat al fresco on the breakfast terrace- occasionally the cool chill required a "pashmina'.
Bonnieland sits on the crest of a very bumpy hill track, so eating elsewhere is not convenient. Half/full board is offered but overnight B+B stays can be accommodated.
The chef is local and has served the De Mels and Bonnieland for many years. Traditional Sri Lankan dishes are his speciality but Sinnika has trained him in many Western dishes. Fresh fish is bought daily from the East Coast fisheries. The chef will plan and cook to your tastes - mild or spicy, meat or fish but nothing overly fancy. My favourites were chicken in mango with cinnamon rice. The curd and fresh passion fruit were a perfect ending.
Long stayers should order wines in advance as only a small selection of spirits and soft drinks is stocked at the bungalow. However, guests are invited to bring their own "Duty Free' supplies.
Breakfast is generally fruit, eggs and tea unless a Sri Lankan breakfast is ordered the day before.
Guests may help themselves to lunchtime snacks in the kitchen. Request cheese/ ham etc if required.
Badulla and its surroundings is an unspoilt, rural area where foreign tourism plays no role- with the exception of Dunhinda Falls. The many temples do not charge and the towns do not have a second tier of tourist prices.
There are lmany adult and children's games