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The Secret Ella

Our rating

7/10

Price guide

Highlights

- Unpretentious, pristine property
- Located in a thriving tea plantation
- Hiking, birdwatching, plantation tours
- Archery, helicopter rides

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Overview

The Secret Ella is a simple, well-managed bungalow resort in a particularly enviable location. It’s set in an expansive 10-acre tea garden estate up in the mountains with fabulous views and looks down on the Nine Arches Bridge. This bridge, which is nearly a century old, is very well preserved and is regarded as one of the finest surviving examples of colonial-era railway construction in all of Sri Lanka. The hotel is one of two in the Secret Hotels chain – both are unpretentious, characterful properties which are well managed and offer convenient access to some of Sri Lanka’s most popular and highly rated attractions.

There are five room categories altogether, ranging from pristine, wooden Garden Chalets to expansive Family Suites and finely appointed Deluxe Rooms. All rooms are substantial in size, and come with 14-hour room service and a helpful personalised butler service, along with an LED TV with satellite channels, deluxe bathroom amenities and tea and coffee making facilities.

The hotel lies within the Sutherland tea plantation estate and is roughly half an hour’s drive from Bandarawela, a large town best known for its bustling market. While the property is a secluded hideaway of sorts, it’s still well within reach of the area’s top attractions. There’s a diverse range of activities to enjoy from hiking and bird watching walks, to tea plantation tours, archery sessions and even helicopter rides.

The restaurant serves an imaginative array of local delicacies with a twist, along with plenty of popular international dishes. All food is freshly prepared with locally sourced ingredients. Other on-site amenities include a smallish rim flow swimming pool, a games room with several board games available and a DVD library. Those looking for a massage can visit the nearby 98 Acres - a complimentary shuttle service runs between the two properties.

Children of all ages are welcome to stay here. Families travelling with young ones are advised to book the Family Suite and there is a playground for children to enjoy.

What customers are saying after travelling with Tourdust

Average Rating

based on 501 reviews

(5.00/5)

  • Hi Lisa

    Thanks for getting in touch. We had a great time in Namibia, in no particular order, some thoughts:

    Oberland Lodge was the accommodation we liked the most: well designed, privacy, good setting, convenient, good food.
    Etendeka Mountain Lodge was stunning, in terms of setting, and the tents were the most high end tents I’ve ever stayed in. Dennis shared some spectacular views of the night sky through his telescope which was really interesting.
    All our guides were good, professional, knowledgeable, personable. Can’t praise them enough.
    A highlight was the catamaran tour, both our boys had this as their top excursion I think. I’d have preferred a tour with a few less people but not a big issue.
    Sossusvlei was one of my highlights, climbing the dunes was good. Actually, across the whole holiday, I’d have liked to have done more hiking / walking safaris but that’s probably down to my planning.
    Mushara Lodge had excellent service and the staff performed a few African songs after dinner one night, which was lovely. The lodge itself could do with a refresh, in terms of physical product.
    The Elegant Guest House was clean and comfortable. And nicely close to Joe’s Beerhouse. Plus it had the best wifi and so a hit with the kids.
    The car we got (Toyota Hilux) was excellent, I’m trying to find an excuse to buy a one.
    The Cornerstone Guesthouse was probably the least glamourous place we stayed (it was all clean and safe though) but actually the two owners (I forget their names now) gave some of the best/friendliest service.
    Logistically everything went off without a hitch, guides showed up on time, all the accommodation was right and they were expecting us. We had some requirements around our son’s medication being refrigerated, everyone was very helpful with this.

    I’ll let Sarah chime in with anything I missed and at some stage I think we’ll be in touch about a trip to Botswana Or maybe Peru.

    All the best,

    Phil

    MissingPhilip A reviewing Highlights of Namibia - Classic Self Drive on 28 July 2022

  • Hi Lisa,

    The trip was fantastic thanks. difficult to really make any suggestions for changes.

    Everything ran smoothly from a logistics point of view and all food and accommodation was great. The owner of Pure Riads came and introduced himself while he was visiting and made some recommendations for restaurants etc.
    The mountain guide picked the ideal route for our level and was very informative on the journey.

    On the return airport pickup from Marrakesh, we initially didn't see the transfer bus and the local contact mobile number did not appear to be in service which might be worth checking but it was no issue as the driver spotted us.

    My wife is already dreaming of her next trip with a different group of friends so no doubt I'll be in touch

    Many thanks

    Regards
    Chris

    MissingChris B reviewing Atlas Valleys & Villages Trek - Value on 27 July 2022

  • Hi Lisa,

    Finally arrived back in Sydney yesterday after a great trip. We all enjoyed Morocco immensely and your organisation was top notch. Some highlights were;

    Essaouira, really enjoyed this town and a great introduction to Morocco for us with a more relaxed vibe. The riad we stayed in was fabulous and the female manager Hyat (probably misspelled) couldn't of been more helpful with both suggestions of things to do, places to see and restaurants to eat at. A very friendly team in general and a lovely lady.

    The High Atlas, again a real highlight despite the issues with early season snow & ice. The guest house in Imlil was great with again a very friendly owner who was keen to provide as much assistance as possible. The changes to our itinerary were well handled and in the case of the extra night at basecamp post climbing Mt Toubkal, worked in our favour. Only 3 of our group managed the climb due to the icy conditions and those of us who did the summit day needed crampons which were provided free of charge. We were the first group camping at basecamp that year and our preference to do so was accepted without complaint. The only issue I might raise was the lack of anything to sit on in camp, though I guess using the sleeping mats is closer to the Berber tradition. I brought my own mat along which was a good option. Our guide Mohammed was great and really helped us to adapt to the altitude despite some sickness amongst the group. He also managed to get us all through some very difficult ice & snow conditions, putting his body on the line on several occasions when people went flying out of control. This was both on summit day and the prior day when he had to contend with all 6 of us. The food was also excellent and the cook very friendly despite limited English. The whole team worked very well together.

    The desert camp was a real experience and very luxurious. Sundowners up on the dunes, the dinners & facilities available and the camel ride were highlights. A long drive was well split by our stays at the Kasbahs which were both fabulous & highly recommended. Hassan & his offsider Khalid were good drivers, friendly and helped us enjoy the whole experience. The excursions along the way were also excellent. The full second day at the desert camp was maybe too much with very high temperatures but they moved us to another cooler camp with shade & more basic facilities during the middle of the day. Again I guess we really got to experience the full nomad lifestyle with a long hiatus during the hottest part of the day.

    Marrakesh, again an excellent riad with a nice meal the first night. Good location, very friendly staff and a lovely place to retire to after a day exploring. A very interesting & bustling town.

    Chefchaouen, what a wonderful place to spend some time. Another exceptional riad with some great facilities with a perfect location. Again staff were exceptionally friendly & helpful and the city was an absolute pleasure to explore. We all loved this extension & Mustafa our driver was exceptionally helpful as well. We decided to do some trekking 1 day in the nearby Rif Mountains and he was only too happy to drive us there & back through some amazing scenery. He was always concerned for our welfare and even came up to check on us while we were out exploring Chefchaouen.

    Tangier, an interesting city and once again the place we stayed was exceptional with a very friendly & helpful French Canadian hostess. The town was a bit more touristy with some issues with touts, 2 nights were enough. Mustafa got us to the ferry up the coast in plenty of time.

    A great trip overall and one that we all enjoyed immensely. Thanks for all your organisation & efforts especially after all the Covid delays and civil war made our trip to Ethiopia impossible.

    Best regards
    Chris

    MissingChris S reviewing 6 Day Toubkal Circuit on 27 July 2022

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