I stayed in the town of Dambulla for 3 nights and stayed at the Jetwing Lake Hotel there. The hotel is less than 3 years old (as of 2019) and staffed by some really great people. Due to the lack of guests, the army of hotel staff provided amazing service and were wonderful throughout my stay.
Jetwing Lake Hotel is a bit tough to get to from the main road. It’s located off a dirt road so finding it is a challenge in the dark but it’s also next to a beautiful lake where you’ll see all kinds of wildlife. The staff is very attentive and they have a large dinner buffet if you don’t feel like leaving the property at night.
The hotel is located off the main street about a 5 minute drive from the Dambulla Rock Temple. However, it’s also a bit difficult to find. Google maps will lead you astray here. It’s difficult to describe but if you go the Google maps route, you’ll be led to the service entrance (which is close enough). However, there is a dirt road that will lead you straight to the hotel (I honestly don’t know if it has a name).
There are also signs along the main street if you’re looking for the hotel but they aren’t lit at night so they’re IMPOSSIBLE to see at night. Hopefully your tuk tuk driver will know where to turn because I missed it multiple times. To be honest, I gave up driving at night in Dambulla after the first night since it was so dark.
Also, with regards to the location, you may not be inclined to leave the property at night. There are no street lights on the dirt road or the incorrect paved road Google will send you down. That said, there was a great little bakery a short walk down from the hotel once you’re on the main street.
If you want to eat some local flavors from arguably the sweetest woman ever, check out the Golden Palace. It’s $650 rupees for a buffet meal with all types of curry and different foods. I believe she lives on the second floor of the restaurant and is open for lunch and dinner. She’ll provide a mountain of food and then ask if it’s enough so she can get some more if you want. Just like mom’s cooking.
My room was spacious and had a desk, seating area, bed, separate shower and tub, and a massive balcony that looked out onto the lake. It was really a massive balcony and I can see it being very enjoyable when it isn’t too humid in the morning especially if you want to see the monkeys and peacocks.
I thought another cool touch was that the room had both AC and a ceiling fan. I like the AC as much as anyone but sometimes it gets a little too cold for me but the idea of sitting air grosses me out. I liked being able to turn on the fan at night and not get up to turn off the AC.
The hotel has a gym and a beautiful pool (even though I never saw anyone at the pool or gym…the pool was empty because it was raining a lot). Jetwing also has a buffet restaurant on the bottom floor where you can breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I only went for the dinner once but they certainly put out a lot of food so you definitely won’t leave hungry.
There is also a Chinese restaurant on the 2nd floor even though I didn’t eat there as well as a bar that’s poolside-ish. It’s a bit hidden but it’s right next to the gym. It’s outdoors and is a great setting to have an evening glass of wine or whatever before dinner is served at 7:30pm.
I thought the hotel was beautiful. It’s a new hotel in a setting that really can’t be beat. The lake it overlooks is gorgeous. Unfortunately, for the 3 nights I was there, there was no one at the hotel. I asked about the lack of guests and everyone said tourism had taken a huge hit after the terrorist bombings in Colombo. That combined with the recent election made for a VERY empty hotel.
I actually felt really bad about the situation the locals were in because they’re doing everything to keep the grounds of the hotel immaculate. Even raking leaves in the pouring rain. There is really no reason a hotel like this should only have 5 (or however many rooms) occupied. If you come to the Dambulla area, you can’t go wrong with a stay at the Jetwing Lake.