My wife and I took a road trip to Polonnaruwa on 12th and 13th of May. The day before the Shiva Devalaya was reportedly broken into. And it was some needed time out after a long time, even though it’s not the best time of the year to visit that part of the country due to high temperature. During our visit we stayed at Deer Park Hotel and it was quite a good experience even-though the hotel was not at its best conditions at the time. I’ll come back to that later.
This was my second time at Deer Park Hotel. I normality don’t stay at same place twice unless I like that place or there is no other place to stay. In this case it was the former reason. Deer Park is one of the good hotels in Polonnaruwa. You do not find many hotels owned by popular chains in the area.
It is located near the Giritale tank. About 10km away from historic city of Polonnaruwa. If you are traveling from Colombo you can take Colombo-Kandy road up to Ambepussa and turn towards Kurunagala and travel all the way up to Minneriya, passing Kurunagala and Dambulla and then turn east towards Polonnaruwa. Except last couple of kilometers where you drive on the bank of Giritale tank most of the driving will be on well-built highways. There is another hotel right next to Deer Park which is called Royal Lotus. On your way you will pass few places like Minneriya National Park and Sigiriya if you wish to make a stop.
Deer Park is a 4 star hotel with a bit of nature built in to it. Rooms are built based on a luxury cottage style. There are 2/4 rooms blocks and duplex cottages where you have an upstairs bedroom and ground floor living area. Rooms are quite spacious and well furnished (king/Queen size bed, writing/dressing table, day bed, mini bar, separate tea table, and stuff to make your own tea). In overall well worth the price. Lighting was quite god. Only thing that did not fit in there was the old CRT TV. IMO duplex rooms are the best. But you might find that the stair case is bit narrow and steep as it is built using as little space as possible. Older travelers and people traveling with children might not like it and prefer regular rooms.
Reason why I said that the hotel was not at its best is because it’s the off-season. Therefore the most of the guests are local and some of the things such as restaurant menu seemed bit downgraded as a result. Seriously hotels should stop doing that for locals. But still it was quite good. Other thing is, most hotels schedule their renovation work during this time of the year. As a result you can notice work being done at every corner. They somehow managed to do it without generating much noise or disturbances. Main swimming pool was not available due to repair work. Otherwise they have a quite a nice twin swimming pool setup where water from one flow in to the other creating an artificial waterfall which is quite cool. Based on my experience in my previous visit things should be lot better during tourism season.
Food at the restaurant was reasonably good and the staff seems quite friendly and helpful. One thing you just cant escape wherever you go in the hotel is the nature. It is pretty much built in to it. There is tree cover all over. You don’t see much direct sun light except in the car park. Giritale tank is right in front of the hotel. There is plenty of wild life. There are birds, squirrels, monkeys, few resident cats and dogs. In overall the surrounding is very beautiful and relaxing.
Duplex and Ground level rooms has a feature called outdoor bathroom. Which is basically a very spacious bathroom with no roof. And there are some plants growing in the bathroom. It was pretty cool, but when you look at some reviews it seems not everyone like it. Because if you are in a ground floor room you can see the upstairs balcony while in the shower. I experienced this during my previous visit but I still like the setup. Mainly because It’s not your average tiny bathroom. This is not an issue for duplexes. Also since there is no roof, insects in the trees above can take a trip down in to the bathroom with a little help from gravity. There is some sort of net over the bathroom to prevent leaves and larger animals making the trip down. But it can’t stop wood ants and anything smaller. Don’t let this scare you from enjoying this feature, but keep an eye open for ants while you are at it. If you are not up to this, you should probably ask for a room with regular bathroom.
There are few things to do in the surrounding area. You can visit ancient city of Polonnaruwa. There are wildlife parks nearby and I think hotel can arrange you trips. Also you will find jeeps parked near the hotel entrance by local tour operators to catch some business by taking visitors to wildlife parks. I don’t think they are affiliated with hotel. This part of the country can be very hot and dry. Make sure to carry enough water/drinks when you go out. Even if do not want to go out and just want to chill inside the walls of hotel, there is plenty of things to keep you excited but relaxes at the same time.
In overall Deer Park Hotel is an excellent place to stay and relax. And there are plenty of things to keep you busy. Rooms are quite spacious, well furnished and very comfortable. Staff is friendly and competent. Best part is you can surround yourself with nature. Most thing that a guest might complain about are stuff you get as result of being surrounded by nature. It’s an excellent place to stay if you love nature. And it is very good value for the money.
Following is some of the pics I managed to take. Buy the way those pics look bad mostly because of my camera skills. And also I was not taking pics specifically for a review. Otherwise I would have taken few more pics inside the room, lobby, restaurant, entrance …. But you can find many good pics on the hotel website. And those pics on the site are quite similar to what you will experience if you go there.