We wandered, aimlessly at first, around the hill town of Kandy. It was the old capital of the county and is now a World Heritage City. A complete circuit of the central lake (Muhada Wewa) brought us to the arcaded Queens Hotel gleaming white in the sunshine in the centre of town. Opposite, a white milepost says 72 miles to Colombo.
The hotel is dated; the once grand lady is now merely old. The fabric of the armchairs in the airy reception is rubbed smooth. The carpets are threadbare and there’s no afternoon tea. It is disappointing.
Yet, it was somewhat satisfying to discover the Sri Lankans still harboured some nuggets of their uncomfortable past with the British. In 1903, it was promoted as: ‘A hotel of the highest class…best situation in the town… two large drawing rooms, a billiard room with three tables… with electric light… accommodation for 150 visitors. Tours to the intending visitors to Dambulla, the buried cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa…Single room 3Rs, Double Room 5Rs.’