People thought it wasn’t possible to make a large hotel (151 rooms to be precise) blend in with nature, but Geoffrey Bawa, Sri Lanka’a most famous architect, proved everyone wrong when he built Heritance Kandalama.
Look back at the hotel, from across the vast ‘Kandalama Tank’ and you really appreciate just how much this hotel is at one with it’s natural surroundings.
Walk through the airy corridors (an impressive 1km in length) which are open to the elements and you’ll quickly get used to seeing wild monkeys swinging through the trees and hearing frogs and a whole host of other wild animals noisily going about their lives.
It really is a wonderful experience.
Heritance Kandalama is perfectly situated for visits to the ancient cave temples at nearby Dambulla and for an adventure climbing to the top of the magnificent Sigyria Rock which make up part of the epic view from the hotel.
Or you can just relax by one of the 3 swimming pools and watch this wonderful part of our world go by.
Heritance Kandalama also caters well for vegans, with a huge nightly buffet being a good option to dine on both Sri Lankan and International vegan food.
With helpful and knowledgable staff (like Executive Sous Chef Shanka De Silva) and clear food labelling, it’s easy to pick out the best vegan treats.
The Vegan Food:
The Sri Lankan food at the Heritance Kandalama was so vegan friendly that every meal turned into a long vegan banquet (no complaints from us there!).
At breakfast we ate our fill of oh-so-delicious string hoppers (noodles made from either red rice or white rice) soaking the light little noodle cakes in creamy coconut ‘kiri hodi’ curry gravy and then helping ourselves to fresh, spicy coconut ‘pol sambol’.
By adding a few chick peas for extra vegan protein power, this was indeed a breakfast that vegan foodies would appreciate.
We’d have probably continued eating string hoppers until we popped, but the other oh-so-delicious variety of hoppers was also available at Heritance Kandalama.
Made from a fermented rice batter, these hoppers are cooked in special pans (by a well practised and skilled chef indeed).
Often this variety of hoppers have a whole egg cracked inside, but our vegan friendly chefs were happy to make ours plain and we were happy to add freshly grated coconut, spicy pol sambol or the even spicier ‘lunumiris’ chilli sambol.
There was fruit and juice on offer and the staff were able to tell us which bread was vegan, which was brilliant because not only does the Heritance Kanadalama provide ‘Canola’ dairy free vegan spread, but they also make their own jam, which we can confirm tastes lovely, really lovely (especially the pineapple flavour!).
Dinner is served a la carte or from the buffet, the latter being the better option for vegan guests due to the range of choice.
The salad bar was a great place to get started and to fill up on fresh, raw veggies and there was a really good range of vegan dressings too, with the sour tamarind being our favourite.
The Sri Lankan curry station was definitely the most tempting vegan option with big pots of coconut based curries full of wonderful Sri Lankan spices like cinnamon, curry leaves, mustard seeds and smoked chillies, healthy red rice and a whole array of spicy fresh sambols and pickles to sample (vegan condiment heaven!).
Our favourite was the ‘Cashew and Cauliflower Curry’ which was full of premium grade giant cashews, plump and covered in a rich creamy curry gravy.
There were plantain curries, okra curries, an awesome dahl and sambols we had never seen before (shredded jackfruit pickle and a banana flower and coconut salad) as well as chilli rich coconut sambol, juicy with fresh coconut.
For non-vegans, there was a huge selection of pretty desserts to try and so we didn’t miss out on a sweet end to our meal, Chef Shanka organised a platter of Sri Lanka desserts for us.
We had ‘Dodol’ which tasted a bit like toasted coconut with liquorice and treacle (texture was soft, chewy and slightly jelly like), some ‘Thala Guli’ which are simple yet delicious sweets made from crushed sesame seeds pounded together with jaggary (Sri Lankan coconut palm sugar) and some stuffed panckaes which were divine.
Not only were they deliciously sweet, but these rice flour pancakes were full of shredded fresh coconut drenched in palm honey (not to be mistaken with bee honey) and flavoured with orange peel, cinnamon and cumin.
So tasty and such a full on taste sensation with all those flavours.
The Vegan Essentials:
Our bed already had non-feather pillows and duvet so no need to ask for it to be made vegan… brilliant!
The in-room amenities were locally produced and in re-fillable containers so it wasn’t possible to tell whether they were vegan or not.
There is a Six Senses Spa at Heritance Kandalama where vegans will be well looked after by Anu and his team.
Relaxing treatments, using natural products (that are all clearly labelled so we could see that a few were suitable for vegans) plus lots of quality essential oils and healthy herbal teas to stock up on.
We had a foot massage and it was very good indeed so we’d definitely recommend a visit.
The Vegan Food Quest Verdict:
Check-in to Heritance Kandalama for a stay in a historically significant hotel which blends effortlessly with nature, allowing you to enjoy the awesome scenery, wild animals and a feeling of space just as it’s famous creator envisaged it.
Fill up on dish after dish of delicious traditional vegan Sri Lankan fare, learning about the wonderful food of this country as well as indulging your taste buds.
Don’t forget to visit the Six Senses Spa for one of their amazing treatments, as well as picking up some vegan goodies to go!
We were guests of Heritance Kandalama but please rest assured that their generosity in hosting us didn’t influence our views.
Telephone: +94 66 5555 000
Cost From: £100 / $150 per night (May 2015)