Tucked deep in the heart of a lush tea plantation this pretty colonial bungalow dates back to 1884. A 40 minute drive from Nuwara Eliya, the hamlet of Ragala where the Strafford bungalow is situated was once under the rule of the British Raj. Stafford is believed to derive its name from Old English to mean "a landing place", 'fjord' or 'brook' because of the stream running through the tea plantation, established long ago by a Scotsman.
The bungalow has been renovated to bring in a more contemporary touch but still retains its colonial essence and charm. It is reminiscent of a pretty cottage in the English countryside. Its beautifully manicured lawns, sturdy old trees whose blossoms carpet the path and pretty flowers of every shade, paint a charming picture. The cares and worries of city life just ebb away and you will feel revived and rejuvenated. The air is crisp and fresh. Verdant hills and valleys gaze back at you from all vantage points.
In a typical home-from-home experience you feel unfettered and unrushed. The world will move in pace with you. There are no set meal times, and no wake up deadlines. Best of all, the warm, courteous staff are child-friendly and don't seem to mind at all the happy noise and clutter that fills the air. All these are reasons to choose this happy little bungalow, because it feels like home and gives you so much more.
Everything about this charming colonial bungalow has the feeling of an old world cottage. From the dainty pastel prints to the warmth of the wood clad walls and domed ceiling in the morning room, to the classical furniture and the brightly coloured fresh flowers in every room, all is restful comfort.
Complementing the charm of the old world ambience are the modern amenities which transport the bungalow into a modern age. Hot and cold water showers, electrical heating in the rooms, hair dryer (on request), satellite (Dialog) TV, laundry and ironing services are some of the creature comforts that make your stay that much more comfortable.
The bungalow has 4 rooms with en suite bathrooms. Two of the rooms have double beds. Master suite has a Four poster King Size bed and extra bed can be allocated on request. The Family Suite has one Double bed and two single beds. Around the crackling fire in the living room is just the perfect place to settle and enjoy a generous cup of hot chocolate on a cold evening.
The whole bungalow is rented out on a full board basis and is the ideal place for a family or bunch friends to get away from the hustle and bustle of busy city life.
The original "Appus", as the chefs are called, were trained in their art by their British masters. The appus today hold on to the recipes handed down through the generations but have learnt a new trick or two about modern western and eastern cuisine. The food they create for you is nothing short of absolutely sumptuous.
You will find the crisp, cooler air of the higher altitude will make you feel hungry all the time during your stay in Stafford.
Breakfast is a hearty affair. You can choose between a typical western breakfast with eggs made to your choice or tuck into crisp white hoppers with spicy local curries.
For lunch you are greeted by the sight of piping hot rice with a colourful array of delicious curries flavored with home grown spices. The fresh and piquant vegetables and leaves are most likely to have been picked from the bungalow gardens.
High tea on the front lawn is a traditional affair of hot buttered scones, delicate twirls of butter and home made jams, washed down with a golden brew of pure Ceylon Tea.
Dinner offers a choice from three courses. Appu will start you off with a steaming bowl of his soup of the day; a main course complete with garden fresh vegetables and salad, followed by a delicious dessert. If weather permits a barbeque may be arranged under the twinkling stars.
Wake in the morning to sunlight trickling through the cool nippy air, and walk out into the garden with your cup of steaming hot freshly brewed tea. Sit yourself on the little wooden bench on the far side of the lawn and plan out the rest of your day, but sometimes all you might want to do is just laze around, watch a movie, read a book, or snooze after a delicious lunch. Watching the children enjoying a hearty game of cricket on the front lawn you might find yourself transported back in time when this bungalow was actually home to a family just like yours.
A game of tennis or a brisk walk through the many pathways along the tea estate will help you build up a good appetite. Watch the tea pluckers in their gaily coloured saris gently picking their way through 'two leaves and a bud'.
Visit the village of Ragala, The villagers are warm and friendly and the children with their bright smiling faces will captivate you.
If you can tear yourself away from under the warm blankets a bit earlier in the morning you could go along with 'perai Dorai' the Estate Superintendant on his daily inspection. He will patiently explain to you the workings and mechanisms that go into make a world famous cup of Ceylon Tea.
A visit to Nuwara Eliya will inspire a feeling of 'déjà vu' as if you were in the midst of an Old English Town. The beautiful flowers the roads will remind you of a town vying to win the coveted "most beautiful garden" title.
If you are a golfer make sure to visit the 18 hole Nuwara Elya Golf Course.
You could also ride at the Race course, feeling the cool air nipping at your nose and ears as you enjoy a exhilarating gallop.
In general, the climate in Ragala is cool. Warm clothing eg . a sweater or a fleece, maybe may be needed at night. The average temperature is between12°C and 21°C throughout the year. November - January the nights tend to be a trifle colder.