(The Hold Steady) – Citrus Hikkaduwa
I was facing a ‘significant’ (divisible by ten) birthday and after the events of last year, didn’t fancy spending it at home, so I decided to spend a week ‘somewhere sunny’.
I have a great affection for Sri Lanka – Val and I had visited in 1996, and again in 2009 – and my friends Phill and Anne live in Hikkaduwa, down south near Galle.
So, Sri Lanka it was to be, and a quick trawl identified the Citrus Hotel, in Hikkaduwa, convenient to visit Phill and Anne.
A week, on the beach. All Inclusive. Sorted.
We arrived early evening after a layover in Abu Dhabi and a two and a half hour drive from Colombo airport, hotel, check in was friendly enough with a glass of fruit juice, cold towel and an explanation of the restrictions (not many, to be honest) of our ‘all inclusive’ package.
We were then shown to our ‘deluxe’ rooms, on the top floor, looking out over the pool and beach. I’d been dreading this moment after reading recent reviews, but was pleasantly surprised. It was clean, dry and not in the least bit musty.
Overall, the food throughout our stay was good, yes the buffets weren’t the most adventurous, but this is a smallish hotel, just ninety rooms, and we were travelling off-season. At each meal there were selections of both western and Indian dishes, all very tasty.
There’s an omelette chef at breakfast each morning.
The bar, overlooking the lawn and the beach, was cosy, the bar staff reasonably attentive – unless ‘distracted’ – there’s a reasonable selection of cocktails, draught Lion lager and several other bottled brews. As all inclusive guests we had a slightly restricted selection of drinks, but it was no hardship.
We drank them out of draught Lion beer within our first three days!
Telecom technicians visit the hotel on our second day and the quality and coverage of the wi-fi improved significantly, offering between 0.3 and 0.5Mb/s both up and down.
The main road from Colombo to Galle is just a few yards from the front of the hotel and the main rail line a few yards farther. Despite the new southern expressway, this is still a busy, noisy road, so even in a ‘deluxe’ room, four floors up, you might be disturbed by traffic or trains in the mornings; that’s hardly the fault of the hotel.
There’s a supermarket and ‘wine shop’ opposite, not that I would encourage anyone to source their alcohol outside the hotel.
‘Central’ Hikkaduwa is a twenty minute stroll to the north (left out of the hotel) and a few interesting bars, restaurants and shops strung out to the south.
Interestingly, on my penultimate day, I was sitting in reception, chilling, and a member of the management team enquired about my stay. I told her that generally, I had no problems, but explained to her that the light switch in the ‘gents’, by the bar, comprised twisted bare wires, just a few feet from the washbasin. When I left more than 24 hours later it had still not been fixed, and they had still not re-stocked the draught Lion beer.
Sri Lankan time is pretty much ‘mañana’ – but without the urgency.
Overall, I would rate the Citrus 3 ½ – 4 stars. Certainly 4 Sri Lankan stars; if you set your expectations accordingly you’ll have a great time.