My earliest memory of the Queen’s Hotel in Kandy (Sri Lanka) was visiting the in-house barber with my father. I must have been five. The barber claimed to have cut Lord Mountbatten’s hair during the war. I think he used the same clippers on me – they were ancient and kept shorting and giving me small electric shocks. My complaints fell on deaf ears. I later discovered that the barber was in fact mostly deaf.
Roll forward to the next century. The Queen’s is now the epitome of faded grandeur and gentle incompetence. Expect the waiters to forget your order the first time around, and get it mostly wrong thereafter. But they smile so sweetly with much head bobbing, it is hard to stay mad at them.
The food is adequate. The napkins are polyester. The walking around band plays everything from Sri Lankan baila (a sort of calypso), to rock and roll standards in a mournful lilting cadence. The chaps are dressed in batik shirts and sarongs with wide brimmed fishermen’s hats. It is unclear when this became the look for “indigenous” bands. No one in Sri Lanka actually dresses like this although the costumes might create a stir at a gay disco in London.
If you feel that very British nostalgia for stuff from the past that really wasn’t very good in the first place, you should stop by the Queen’s. Otherwise there’s really no good reason to stay or eat here.