Welcome to Wonderland

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, tel: (94-81) 2234571, takes pains to never rent out all 40 rooms at once.

But then whimsical attitudes are par for the course here. 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...