The way my mother describes her first trip to Glenesk Bungalow to me was magical: arriving above the clouds themselves at this paradise on earth. The gardens were immaculate, from the croquet lawn to the flower-filled rockery, the ponds were frequented by wild otters and the view over the mountains, simply breath-taking. The bungalow itself was charming, she said, and forever-filled with the smell of freshly baked pies and home-made jams, made from the garden’s abundance of fruit.
It was her first visit to Sri Lanka as a recently married bride, and my father wanted to show her his life here. It would have been the early 70s, and Glenesk Bungalow would still have been at its prime; a holiday home and extension of the family tea estates, immaculately run and lovingly cared for by my grandmother.
Unfortunately, the bungalow I grew up visiting four decades later was a little different; faded and overgrown, as the after effects of land-reform took their toll and my grandmother was less able to visit the property.
By the time I returned from my studies in London, the bungalow had really fallen into disrepair. Running water was problematic, the electricity supply was inconsistent and there was a tree growing through one of the walls.
It was heart-breaking for me to see this property, which my grandmother had loved so much, in this state. Still young, I didn’t think that I had the ability or the resources to restore the house myself until a friend convinced me to try. Slowly, and on a shoestring budget, I began restorations on the property, making a bi-weekly pilgrimage by gruelling 6 hour bus, even while I worked as the associate editor of LT. Often while writing “Escape” features for the magazine, I would dream of the day I would be able to feature Glenesk. And finally, four years later, I have my chance to feature it, a restored 4 bedroom bungalow ready to welcome not just the family, but guests from both near and far.
Tucked away on a private hillside, Glenesk Bungalow is just 20 minutes from the hustle and bustle of Nuwara Eliya town. Close to Hakgala Botanical Gardens and en route to Horton Plains and Ambewela Farm it offers plenty of peace, fresh air and makes for the perfect private getaway.
It’s not the view (though it’s stunning), or the lawns (extensive as they are) that.make Glenesk Bungalow such a unique property, but the history tattooed into the very fabric of the house, that sets it apart from so many other now-characterless Nuwara Eliya bungalows.
Close to a century old, Glenesk Bungalow isn’t an ‘old-style’ property, but one with genuine history. Built in 1920 by Scottish Planters, who named the bungalow after their hometown, the house retains its original furniture (including a cupboard with an itemized list of its contents stuck to its inner door, dating back to 1931) as well as a wealth of antiques hand-picked by my grandmother (who loved this property like a person). Spacious and homely, each of the 4 rooms is generously sized and as the bungalow is rented exclusively to one party at a time guests can relax and enjoy the property as their own.
Food and Drink
Served up by our chef Raja, who has worked for the family for over 30 years, Glenesk Bungalow offers a range of home-cooked, predominantly home-grown cuisine. From a complimentary breakfast, which includes eggs freshly laid by our neighbour’s chickens, village-baked bread and home-made jam; to an excellent up-country rice and curry spread made with garden grown vegetables (and chicken or fish, if you choose); to a three-course dinner. Of course there’s plenty of locally grown tea on offer as well.
Things To Do
An ideal base for exploring the area, Glenesk Bungalow offers easy access to local tea estates, waterfalls, Hakgala Gardens, Horton Plains, Ambewela Farm and, of course, Nuwara Eliya town. That being said, many of our guests enjoy just hunkering down with a book, or an old magazine, trying their hand at painting the landscape or playing a board game or two, as well as trying a spot of badminton or cricket on the lawn.