[an error occurred while processing this directive] There can be few hotels that actively avoid 100% occupancy, but Helga's Folly, overlooking the Sri Lankan city of Kandy, is one of them. "I do not like it full," says owner Helga da Silva Blow Perera, "as it spoils the atmosphere." For this reason, the hotel takes pains to never rent out all 40 rooms at once.
Such whimsical attitudes are part of the place's charm. In its day, Helga's Folly has hosted celebrities such as William Holden, David Lean, Sir Laurence Olivier and Mohandas Gandhi. More recent guests include fashion designer Zandra Rhodes and Kelly Jones of rock group the Stereophonics, who wrote British chart-topper Madame Helga in tribute to his hostess. It's certainly easy to be inspired by life at this grand 1930s house, with its flamboyant colors and eclectic furnishings. Ancient Buddhist paintings, hunting trophies and antique Dutch chests are scattered everywhere.
Silk flowers and Christmas baubles hang from the ceiling, and the dining rooms are set with seven-branched candelabras. Guest rooms are appointed in similarly playful style, right down to the magazine covers used to plaster bathroom walls.
"Coming here opened my mind," reads an entry in the visitors' book. "Leaving broke my heart. I am going home to redecorate my apartment." That's understandable. After a night in Helga's Folly, everywhere else looks dull
by comparison. Rooms start from $100. tel: (94-81) 2234571