Helga’s Folly

To get the train to Nuwara Eliya we had to go back to Kandy for one night. So I added yet another hotel to my ever-growing list of sleeping places in Asia: Helga’s Folly.


The Lonely Planet entry about Helga’s Folly describes it like this: “Helga’s Folly could have been dreamt up as a joint project between Gaudi and Dali. This hotel/art gallery/surrealist dream has to be the most extraordinary hotel in Sri Lanka.”
Yep, that’s pretty accurate.

Before it was a hotel, it was a mansion designed by Madame Helga’s mother in the 1930s. Her father was the former Sri Lankan ambassador to Paris, and her family home has hosted many famous people over the years. In 1988 Madame Helga used redecorating the mansion as therapy after a difficult divorce, and in 1994 inherited the hotel. Every inch of every wall is decorated. Alice in Wonderland characters grace the walls of the hallway leading to our room. Photographs of all of the famous visitors and Madam Helga’s family give you a sense of the hotel’s history on the way u the stairs. Candle sticks with wax drippings that have been building up for decades sit on each table. There is a jungle theme throughout the hotel, several plastic skeletons (like the ones you see at halloween) sitting on chairs, and music from the 20s, 30s, and 40s playing all over.

Before dinner there were 2 other couples having drinks in the sitting room. We thought they were other guests, but it turned out they had just come for drinks and to take a peek inside the hotel. When they finished their beers we were alone. In a 40-room hotel, we were the only guests. Dinner was quite fancy. My butter knife even had its own plate. The food was delicious.


In the morning before we left, we got a call from Madame Helga herself. She called to see how our stay was. She said she felt bad that she couldn’t be there to meet us, but she was ill. After reading all about Madame Helga and her family online and then seeing her hotel, I can only imagine what a fascinating woman she must be. Maybe next time Madame Helga!


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