Four friends came together to restore a crumbling 100-year-old mansion on the Sri Lankan hillside near the town of Weligama. Now, they are renting it out for $1,300 a night.
The mansion called Halala Kanda, meaning Firefly Hill in local language, was built by the son of a wealthy plantation owner in 1912 to woo his bride. In its glory days, Halala Kanda played host to guests such as Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie and the legendary Australian cricketer Keith Miller.
But when the interior designer Sharpe first glimpsed the crumbling mansion in the year 2010, there was no past glory left in it. The mansion’s crumbling plaster seemed like it was lost to the jungle, the coral and stone walls had collapsed, bats were roosting in the rafters, the windows were boarded up and a tree was growing through the roof of the entryway.
“It was a ruin of what it once was. But we walked in and fell in love with it,” Sharpe told ‘Insider’. In 2011, the interior designer bought the crumbling, over 100-year-old villa and two acres of land for $430,000 along with his friends Jenny Lewis, Richard Bleasdale, and Bentley de Beyer.
With a task to create an authentic look for the mansion which wrapped an open-air courtyard, architect Ross Logie was hired to do the designing. Well, work began in December 2012, a century after the structure was built. Beyond recreating the mansion, some modern twists were added to the design, including a 23-metre-long saltwater pool in the garden.
Today, the mansion – boasting five bedrooms and the same number of bathrooms – can house up to 12 people. Also, it is now fully staffed with a manager, chef, two service staff, two gardeners, and a security guard.
So, if you visit Sri Lanka, do not miss this mansion that takes you back in years but with a modern twist.