Maniumpathy

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Maniumpathy

From Anuradhapura to Kandy, Jaffna to Kotte and beyond, Sri Lanka is a land of royalty. Symbolized and personified by the King of the Jungle that adorns our national flag our ancient ones were all about living to the fullest. Whether it was the architectural marvels that were ancient palaces, to the treasures of gold and fine hand-woven fabrics that we wore, or the thousands of brilliant gems hidden beneath our land, our country was known for its finery. We are also known for the magical ingredients that go in to preparing our food.

 

Over the many centuries Sri Lankan cuisine has been influenced by our indigenous people, traders from Arab and Persian lands, travelers along the Silk Route, our neighbours from India and of course the colonialist Portuguese, Dutch and English. The result is a myriad of flavours and preparations combined to make a hearty meal.

 

What also makes Sri Lanka ultra-special is that from the North to South and East to West we may use the same ingredients but prepare our food in very different ways. To experience the best of both worlds we were invited to a stately home in the heart of the city that is now a luxury boutique hotel and restaurant.

 

Maniumpathy is a stately house, which has been home to five generations of a family originating in Jaffna. As the story goes it was the female matriarch of the first generation who was the entrepreneur/investor and found herself investing in real estate long before this was considered a lucrative investment. For more than a century the house was the home of her descendants before the present generation decided to open its doors to let guests enjoy the atmosphere reminiscent of the moods and pursuits of the people who have lived within its walls in those times past.

The name Maniumpathy is a tribute to the town of Manipay, the origins of the first owners. Manipay was a thriving and wealthy locality of Jaffna. By the standards of present day Colombo, it might be regarded as the Colombo 07 of Jaffna during the nineteenth century. It is no surprise then that today’s house in based in Colombo 7 itself.

With connections to the Royal family of Jaffna, each room is named after a woman from a different generation of the family starting with Annapuranie, and pays tribute to each of their regal personalities. Ranee, Cynthia, Amritha, Vasanthi, Poornam and Chrysanthie (the current owner) are all represented in the old-world charm of each room/suite.

 

The rooms itself is a meeting place of the old and new with the antique furniture, draperies and photographs being retained, while modern amenities like satellite TV, a mini-bar, and Wi-Fi are included. The powder room that also houses the bath, toilet and convenient dressing parlour particularly took our fancy as it once again combines luxury, regality and simplicity, all-in-one.

 

Despite being situated in the heart of the commercial capital, one is surrounded by tranquility upon entering the gates that are actually hardly visible to the passerby. Maniumpathy does not encourage large signage and has privacy at the helm of its experience. Guests can enjoy reading or lounging by the plunge pool or in their own private garden for the lower floor rooms. For those who prefer the indoors, a cigar room with classic literature is certainly welcoming. A giant screen has also been included in the room for your viewing pleasure. One of our favourite areas of the house though was the royal dining room with its end-to-end table set with the finest glassware and china. Manimupathy also rents out the garden and this space for private family gatherings, intimate high-tea or even small weddings.

 

Speaking of the high tea we had the opportunity to indulge in the perfect little garden party set in true British fashion complete with scones, cream and rhubarb jam! Served on platters the finger food both savoury and sweet were on point. The staff on attendance have also clearly taken a page out of the queen’s own guidebook to being a great butler. We noticed the precision and care with which crockery is handled, food is served and our whims and fancies attended to.

 

Staff though small in number are definitely one of Maniumpathy’s greatest assets. Led by Chaminda and Radhika, the team makes every guest feel like they are walking in to their own home. The culinary team led by Chef also takes special care to prepare Jaffna-style rice n curry served on thalis with enough side dishes to feed a small army. Among the two of us we had every possible meat and seafood one can find in our tiny island and vegetables prepared in every hue you can think of. Needless to say it was like having the whole of Sri Lanka on a plate. And then there were the Indian-inspired desserts of which the Kesari was definitely our favourite. Since we stayed over, we also had a breakfast of Sri Lankan delicacies fit for a king and a more westernized 3-course meal for dinner but it was by far the lunch and high tea that will leave us going back for more.

 

For travelers and locals who prefer privacy and intimate settings to the hustle and bustle of Colombo, Maniumpathy is a perfect getaway in the city.

 

So here’s our review…

 

Location         ****   (Heart of Colombo but well hidden!)

Ambiance       ****   (Calm and serene!)

Service           ****   (Obliging and Non-intrusive!)

Food               ****   (Best High Tea in Town!)

Overall                       ****

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