Riverina in beruwela sri
Keywords: riverina hotel, beruwela, sri lanka, holiday reviews, holiday reports
Description: Riverina Hotel, Beruwela. Read 13 user reviews and find great holiday deals for Riverina Hotel on Holiday Watchdog™.
This hotel is friendly and extremely well run. I had a fantastic time and would return tommorrow if given the chance. Sri Lanka is completley wonderful and has so much to offer. Definatley recommend going.
I'm now back after 2 amazing weeks in Beruwela, Sri Lanka enjoying the Indian Ocean, very cheap food & drink, some incredible wildlife and a cultural experience like nothing before.
The cost of living is amazingly cheap - £10 for a 3 course meal for 2, with drinks in the tourist areas! Of the beaten track, it was much less. A 100km train ride was around 75p!
Hotel Riverina was everything you would expect from one of the higher end establishments in the resort.
The rooms were spacious, cleaned regularly and thoroughly by a team of very friendly house keeping staff - special thanks to Gnanaruthna on rooms 301-312! Top bloke.
The aircon was reliable, the mini-bar well stocked, and not too pricey, and room service/coffee shop snacks perfectly acceptable with a decent variation. The rooms were cleaned or checked 3 times a day - a main clean in the morning, a quick check, and mini-bar top up in the afternoon, and the bed prepared and mosquito tablets changed in the evening. The flower on the pillow each night was a cute touch.
The pool was clean, and all surrounding areas well kept - thoroughly tended each morning and tidied throughout the day. There are loads of Chipmunks running around during the day, and a fair few crows, but both are well behaved and not too intrusive.
Also look out for the fruit bats swooping around after dusk! Awesome to watch whilst floating in the pool!
The food was excellent - a wide selection served as a buffet/banquet, freshly cooked, and well prepared. It is best to get to dinner and breakfast early as sometimes the buffet options will have been sat since serving starts.
Evening entertainment was variable - the karaoke night was particularly dire, but there is a local live band on Monday nights who do some very good covers, albeit with strong Sri Lankan accents!
We also ate at the Terrano Lodge by the river, an Austrian themed restaurant which I thoroughly recommend. Maharaja on the beach north of the river was also very good, along with the Aida Restaurant by the Railway Bridge.
Highlights of the trip were a visit to an Elephant orphanage, watching wild monkeys, going on Safari and seeing bears, elephants, crocodiles and very rare birds, climbing to the top of Sigiriya Rock - a 2000 year old palace built on top of a huge outcrop, releasing baby turtles into the sea, swimming in the pool at night whilst fruit bats swooped a few feet above us, 30c + all day and night, and even the monsoon rains which only lasted an hour or so came down warm!
We met some great people over there, but I've got to mention Kumara, a tuktuk driver who became a great friend and took us to some great places. A lot of tuktuk drivers will try to overcharge you, or take you to shops to earn a commission, but Kumara was as straight and honest as they come. If anyone is visiting Beruwela, I will pass on his mobile number!!
There are touts/guides who will offer to take you to their friends/fathers/brothers gem shop/wood carving shop/clothes shop/spice garden/ayurveda massage centre etc, but all are on commission, and the sales people in these shops are VERY persistent.
We found that the official tours arranged by First Choice were reasonable value, and took two separate overnight stays with them - 1 to Kandy.
Pinnewela, Dambullah, & Sigriya, and another to Udawalawe, Yala and Galle, all entry fees (pricey at some places) and 5* accommodation, breakfast and evening meals were provided.
Although both were very reasonable - approx £75 per person per day, we later realised the trips were sub-contracted to local tour operators who do the exact same trip themselves with the same English speaking guides for around half the price!
We went on a number of trips to temples, tea plantations, ancient monuments, coral reefs, rainforests, historic cities, and also a National Park Game reserve for my girlfriend’s birthday. We stayed in a wooden cabin in the park, which meant we could not leave the room at night as wild animals wandered freely around! We only had wild boar snuffling around, and a Lizard in the room when we woke, but the previous night an elephant was in the grounds!
The road trip to the Yala national park was with a guy called Desha - from deshatours.com - and as it was only a group of 4 passengers so it was a very laid back affair. Desha had a Vengaboys tape that perked everyone up on the longer stretches of the journey, and the minivan we were travelling in became known as the Vengabus! He is worth contacting if you want a high quality, but good value and informative trip.
We also took a number of day excursions arranged by the local "Beach boys" - look out for Luba and Miguel outside the Riverina - well-spoken, polite, friendly, and non-pushy and set us up with some very good trips to local places such as Sinharaja rainforest, Hikkaduwa coral reef and the turtle sanctuaries.
Again the guides may take you to gem stores etc, but we found these to be less pushy and better priced than the shops the street touts took us to.
The standard of Driving in Sri Lanka is awe inspiring - in that it amazed me people were not dying every few seconds!
There is still huge areas still devastated by the Tsunami, 50,000 died in Sri Lanka, and even though we were on the West Coast, the wave was still 12m high - reducing many concrete buildings to rubble, and leaving no trace whatsoever of the shack type houses.
It's not all grim - the people are incredibly resilient, and eternally grateful that us tourists still visit, despite the civil war that was going on in the North and East of the country (it's relatively peaceful at the moment, and the coast south of Colombo was never really affected by it anyway).
If you only learn two words of Sinhalese, then make sure they are "stoo-tee" - Thank you, and "Aye - you - Bo - Wan" have a long and happy life. This latter phrase is used a greeting, a farewell, and also as a very effective term to use to get rid of street touts.
We will definitely be going back, and despite the 11hr flight it is only 4.5hrs ahead so jetlag is not an issue. Transfer time to Riverina is about 3.5hrs, but if you get Ralston as a rep, he will make it seem so much less!
We really could not fault it (except for the chillies disguised as green beans - BAD mistake to make!) and would recommend to anyone to take the opportunity to go!
Arrived back in England from this hotel on Thursday 8th March after a 14 night stay so this is fresh in our minds.
First thing is the friendliness of the staff and management which seemed to have rubbed off onto the guests which were as cosmopolitan as one could meet anywhere in the world with a mix of Germans, Russians, English, Sinhalese and people from other countries whose languages I did not recognize.
Travelled by First Choice and as we had such a good price on the trip upgraded the flight which was well worth the extra as on arriving at Colombo airport our luggage was first off and this gave us time to pick up a local sim card. The porter who guided us out of the arrivals and to the coach deserved his tip as after depositing my wife took me back through the airport to buy the sim and then back to the coach. Saved a lot on phone charges and the 1,000 rupees on the card more than covered all our phone calls including those back to England. You are charged for incoming calls so if you can’t understand the caller disconnect fast. Text worked immediately so we were able to send messages to those we wanted to know our number.
Welcomed at the hotel by Samantha, a fruit juice and seated in the lounge bar while we filled in the registration forms and, on mentioning that we would like a room with a bath we were asked to wait an extra ten minutes while a room was readied for us. Samantha apologized for the delay and extra fruit drinks were served. When we were shown to the room she proudly announced that it was a honeymoon room and a plate of fresh fruit was waiting for us. Yes! We were on our honeymoon as we got married in Las Vegas last October. The bed was king size, more than comfortable, the view from the balcony was of the gardens, pool and sea. Not sure if this was an upgrade room but we would have happily paid the extra if it had been. The room was always clean and the room attendant deserved her tip which we gave on a weekly basis.
Theme nights rule in the main restaurant, always buffet style, and the first was Sri Lankan with choices of European alternatives and the charge was 1,200 rupees each per night. European nights have Sri Lankan alternatives so the range of choices is not great. The local dishes are nowhere near as hot as the locals eat them. We found out afterwards that the lobby coffee bar/restaurant with waiter service was in the majority cheaper and the choices of fresh made meals better. Service was not fast but this is not a fast food take away.
Breakfast in the main restaurant was normally adequate but occasionally choices were limited and drinks took some time to arrive until a German lady wiped the floor with the restaurant manager and things improved. The lesson is that if you are not satisfied complain and something will be done about it.
The gardens are well kept, the pool cleaned regularly and unless you absolutely refuse the service your sun bed will be laid out with a mattress and towels, blue ones supplied by the hotel, by one of the pool attendants when you get to the gardens. Yes, they expect a tip but wages aren’t high and a pound a day gets you your favorite spot every day.
The beaches are cleaned every day and the beach boys are responsive to “Please don’t pester me!” but they are well worth talking to if you want to do any excursions and cheaper if you want to do a tailor made one than the hotel reps.
Turn left when you step onto the beach and walk along to the Maharajah Restaurant for beautifully cooked meals and although the prices may seem high for shell fish meals they are larger than those at the hotel and a Coca Cola will only cost 50 rps (25 pence) compared to 125 rps in the hotel. Two clothes shops who will make to measure are next to this as is the Sunil jewellers who can use all those pieces of broken jewellery you have at home to make you something beautiful. Jewellers hold stocks of unmounted sapphires to make up into your own designs but if you want flawless stones you will need to go to Kandy.
Most currencies are accepted and it is not worth changing up money except for tips but please remember that they can only change notes, not coins, so if you give pound coins they have to save them up and then find a tourist who does not mind changing them.
The First Choice rep is Ralston and in all probability the best rep we have ever met and is prepared to go to war on your behalf except on Sundays when he will turn out for emergencies but if it is less than that please leave him alone as he is on call “24/6”, his words.
The last meal at the hotel is an early breakfast but the buffet is not properly set up and the choice appalling and if we were to do this trip again we would request an all day breakfast from room service.