most expensive hotel in Kandy

Lunch and a Game of Croquet, The Clingendael, Kandy, Sri Lanka

Words: Kirsten Durward     Photos: Monica Tindall

Time stands still at The Clingendael in so many ways, but time is not an issue when it comes to food service. Butlers and kitchen staff are on hand all day to keep guests satisfied. The menu encompasses soups, salads, light bites, and more extensive western choices from pasta to grilled dishes. Sri Lankan Cuisine is represented well with a range of curries and fresh salads. We opt for a light lunch in the early afternoon prior to a game of croquet on the lawn.

Freshly baked rolls still warm to the touch are snuggled up in a basket ready to be dipped in our soups. Monica eagerly spoons up her thick creamy Vegetable Soup made from fresh locally sourced produce. I’ve opted for something a little more exotic, Seafood Tom Yum. A Thai favourite, experiences can be hit or miss when outside of Thailand. Thankfully this one is delicious, if a little different. With a tomato base and good chunks of vegetable throughout, it’s somewhat thicker than the traditional version. But the hot-sour flavours are all there and the prawns and calamari have a good texture. We often think happiness is a bowl of soup, and these two hit the high end of our happiness metres.

The Clingendael, Kandy
Vegetable Soup
The Clingendael, Kandy
Tom Yum soup

Sri Lankan food is delicious but quite protein and carbohydrate based, so we’re balancing out today by crunching on plentiful vegetables. The local Garden Salad carries the crunch of almonds amidst the fronds and strands of colourful vegetables and fresh leaves. The herbed Chicken Salad is rather more robust, with a slight spice in the meat, and the welcome addition of walnuts to add a little texture. Monica eschews dressing but I quite enjoy a little slipperiness and zing on my salad. Olive oil keeps our joints well oiled too. There is a reason why there’s less arthritis in Mediterranean countries.

The Clingendael, Kandy
Garden Salad
The Clingendael, Kandy
Chicken & Pineapple Salad

After lunch we partake in a lighthearted round of croquet on The Clingendael’s shady lawn. Gently guided by the amiable Ajit, we clock a few balls through the hoops before retiring to the ambalama for that typical colonial drink: a crisp gin and tonic. Unadorned but by a slice of lime, this drink has its origins in India during the Raj, but swiftly spread around the world in the hands of colonial diplomats, businessmen and their elegant wives. Today gin and tonic bars are all the rage in Europe, but there is nothing like sipping a crisp classic in a colonial setting. Here at The Clingendael, it’s a blissful afternoon delight, enhanced by the panoramic vistas of the Knuckles mountains and Kandyan hills.

The Clingendael, Kandy
Croquet at The Clingendael
The Clingendael, Kandy
G&T & Croquet

Reasons to visit: colonial elegance; panoramic views; freshly prepared food; impeccable service

The Clingendael
Coconut Hill, Rajawella
Kandy, Sri Lanka
+94 (0) 77 251 5457
[email protected]


  1. What a lovely building! Colonial heritage.

    • It’s actually only 5 years old but he used a lot of pieces from older properties in the build. It’s even better inside!

  2. Beautiful place, and the soups and salads look great! 🙂

  3. Oh so very “PUKKA” – croquet on the lawns. One expects to see not what appears
    to be a Buddhist monk playing but the “gentry” of yesteryears. Great to see that times are a-changing.
    Kirsten – that Thai Seafood Tom Yum Soup. Now that does bring back burnt tonsil memories for me. At the Grand Central Sofitel, at Hua Hin, Thailand, to impress my Swiss lady friend from Chur, I ordered this dish. The charming waitress asked if I would like it HOT, Medium or Mild. To impress my friend from Chur and being the bravado type of the Cordobes family, I ordered the HOT.
    Little did I realise that HOT in Thai is different to HOT in Aussie lingo.
    The steaming soup arrived with lumps of seafood protruding and without a blink
    I plunged my large spoon into said ” The Hell of Hades” and into my mouth.
    The result was explosive – the iced water jug was grabbed and devoured poste haste
    with my Swiss lady friend wondering if she has just witnessed a case of “hari kari”!
    My vocal chords were inoperative for quite some time.
    And that was the start and end of my venturing into hot Thai dishes.
    Ursula, my Swiss lady friend, reminds me every Christmas since in her Christmas
    Card, have I tried TOM YUM SOUP again.
    Annoying isn’t it, how some people can’t forget an incident.

    Almost as scary, Kirsten, as those “flying snakes of Sri Lanka, eh?
    Cheers dear ladies and thanks for the memories.
    El Colin Cordobes of the Flaming Tonsils

    • Oh wouldn’t it have been funnier, if the iced water jug was a pitcher of iced gin and tonic.
      That could have been a genuine “hari kari” attempt.
      I can assure you I would have under the flaming circumstances downed the whole lot.
      No bloody mosquito would have come within miles of me – ha ha.
      El Colin Cordobes of the Flaming Tonsils.

    • I’m wondering why you’re not writing your own blog. These stories are funny. Cordobes on Memory Lane?

    • yes indeed Colin, it is extremely ‘pukka’ as you say, what a great choice of word as it derives from colonial India. In fact the last time I played croquet with a glass of gin and tonic was in a tea estate in Limuru Kenya. So you can see how these colonial fads transferred with the business boys in those days. Tom Yum is a fabulous flavour and you absolutely should try it again, make it at home even, or go for a mild dose. It’s true that Asian taste buds and ours are not the same, though I was raised on spicy food and I often have to add a little chilli. Many is the time I’ve argued with an Indian waiter, ‘Madam you do not want hot.’ ‘Oh indeed I do.’ ‘No Madam no!’ ‘Ok then but if I don’t like it, you pay for it.’ One time though I did get caught out in a side of the road place in South India, Tamil Nadu somewhere. I’d never had Uttapam, and I figured it was like a thick dosa with a topping. So I gaily ordered it and out it came, similar to a pizza round cut into six and on each slice was one whole chili. As the only westerner and only female in the place I already had about 60 Indian male eyes on me, but when the chilis appeared, every eye in the place swivelled my way. This was a trial by fire and I could not appear to be weak. Thankfully they were not birds eye or scotch bonnet and I managed to chew down the lot without squirming or sweating. But I never knew if that was actually how it was served or they were trying to call me out! Flying snakes – so grateful I did not see one!

  4. Chicken and pineapple do go well together and taste delicious.

  5. Great place and all the food look great too. I love tom yam soup.

  6. Beautiful place and the food look yummy 🙂

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