A quaint heritage bungalow that was once the holiday home of the first Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, provides a unique experience in the hills of Nuwara Eliya.
Words Udeshi Amarasinghe
Photographs Menaka Aravinda
Situated a short distance away from the Nuwara Eliya town, The Firs is an ideal getaway in the hills. The bungalow was built by Philip Freudenberg, Ceylon’s first International Counsel General for Germany, while a European feel is very much evident in the exterior as well as the interiors of the buildings, the inherent ambience of Nuwara Eliya prevails. This property later became the holiday home of Prime Minister D S Senanayake and has continued to remain in the family to date. The present chairperson is Suwanitha Senanayake, great grand-daughter of the Prime Minister.
The cosy sitting room is furnished with period pieces of furniture and décor that is reminiscent of the colonial era. Floral patterns and cushioned sofas together with wooden tables and flower arrangements provide the perfect setting. Adjacent to the sitting room is the games room where guests can play board games such as carrom, chess or simply relax.
The lavish and elegant bedrooms are on either side of the long corridor of which a filigree iron staircase is the highlight at the end. Five in total, all are super deluxe rooms (with double or triple occupancy), which are large and comfortable. All rooms have en-suite bathrooms with jacuzzi, fireplace and TV. The furniture are beautiful antiques perfectly matched to give an authentic feel. Interestingly the rooms have been given names. Winfried, Reinhart and Siegmund have been named after the children of Philip Freudenberg. Molly has been named after Prime Minister D S Senanayake’s wife, Molly Dunuwilla and Stephan is the room that was once occupied by the Prime Minister. The interiors of Winfried and Molly are decorated in rose pink and lavender purple. Reinhart is of a more-subtle colour and is the twin room whereas Siegmund has a dark green touch. The interiors of Stephan are of pastel shades and has an alcove area with windows opening out. All beds are large and have beautiful canopies in European style.
The dining room is simple yet elegant and serves an à la carte menu with fusion cuisine that includes Western, Continental, Sri Lankan and Indian cuisine. This can accommodate up to 15 guests. With room service as well as a butler service available at the The Firs, guests are ensured of a royal stay. Guests can play a game of pool in the billiards room or even watch a match, if deciding to stay in-doors. The garden with its beautifully manicured lawns or the porch outside is ideal to enjoy a lovely evening. There are many sites to visit in Nuwara Eliya and The Firs will assist guests with all their requirements.
Enjoy a warm cup of Ceylon Tea in front of the fireplace as you unwind in the evening after a day of excursions and sight-seeing while enjoying your indulgent stay at The Firs.