Freelance Nomad

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Hill Club, Nuwara Eliya

Yesterday I visited Nuwara Eliya's venerable Hill Club. It's exactly the kind of place I'd never be allowed into back home, so I thought I'd take a look around.

Founded in 1876 by the usual colonialist suspects, the club is now frequented mainly by pukka Sri Lankans including - shock horror - women. Or 'ladies' as they are respectfully known.

Nuwara Eliya is another one of these hill stations set up by the British so that they could feel at home despite being thousands of miles away from good old Blighty. Since the Hill Club is over the road from the race track and next door to the golf course, they clearly went for it all the way.
At 2000 metres above sea level, the weather really was quite British: misty and rather cold. 'Bracing', I suppose you could call it. Still, the views were spectacular and I helped myself to plenty of fresh air.

As for the Hill Club, I paid my Rs100 temporary joining fee, settled into the Reading Room (pictured) and ordered myself a scotch. Well you've got to sometimes, haven't you? I had a snoop round the premises - there's a Men's Bar, a mixed bar, a billiards room, gym and a very well set out dining hall. These days, a portrait of the Sri Lankan President has taken Queen Elizabeth's place above the fireplace, but she's still up on the wall, with Prince Phillip to keep her company.

I had to push off at 7 o'clock, because that's when the dress code kicks in. Sadly I didn't pack my smoking jacket when I left the UK - I'll know better for next time.


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