5-bedroom Villas in South Coast, Sri Lanka

Stretching between Galle and Hambantota, the south coast is undoubtedly one of the most popular destinations in Sri Lanka. Characterised by historically significant fortified towns, numerous picture-perfect palm-fringed beaches, a sultry turquoise sea, swathes of iridescent green paddy fields fringed by lush green jungle, ancient Buddhist temples, expansive waterways, nature-filled rainforests and tea-carpeted hills it offers enough variety to be a destination in itself; fabulous for families, groups and couples alike.

Galle is one of the region’s most significant attractions for its sixteenth century Dutch fort filled with an evocatively rich collection of buildings, boutiques, museums and luxury digs that hug a peninsular to the south of town. Galle’s popular beaches are better-facilitated, more developed and safer for swimming than those in and around Tangalle, but the further you travel east the more expansive, deserted and nature-filled they become.

Surfing, snorkelling, diving, whale watching, sailing, fishing and kayaking can all be done along this magnificent stretch of coastline as well as cycling, walking and trying your hand at Sri Lankan cookery. Inland, the scene varies as the westerly wet zone’s lush jungle interior gives way to the arid dry zone plains a little beyond Tangalle. Taking off by bicycle is often the best way to explore the hills, plains, sanctuaries and jungle whilst a boat is a must to navigate the scenic lakes and rivers that wind in between.

Some of Sri Lanka’s most popular national parks – Uda Walawe for elephants and Yala for leopards and bears – as well as a trio of its most accessible rainforests – Sinharaja, Kottawa and Kanneliya - are easily visited on a day or overnight trip from anywhere along the south coast.

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Ambassador's House

Ambassador's House

Sri Lanka » South Coast » Galle

Ambassador’s House is certainly spacious. When we first explored inside, it just seemed to keep on going back and back. We really liked the roof terrace too – the perfect place for soaking up the sun.

The upstairs bedrooms have recently undergone renovations and now work well as a family suite, and the master bedroom ensuite is very special with its tub, twin washbasins and twin showers – true ‘his-and-hers’ luxury! Be aware though that the bed in the master bedroom is slightly shorter than your average queen-size bed. We liked that the main living areas were wired for sound as this really enhanced the mood (bring your own music or iPod), and the large screen in the TV room made it feel like a cosy mini cinema.

The villa is particularly well set up for kids – each staircase is fitted with a safety gate, and there are loads of toys and games. The staff love kids and we found them all to be warm and welcoming. The chef will ably cater for all your dining requirements (groceries on guest account) and the management team, who drop by daily, are very helpful and friendly and will happily arrange onward travel, excursions or activities.
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Claughton House

Claughton House

Sri Lanka » South Coast » Dickwella

Without doubt, this is one of Sri Lanka’s most engaging villas and in one of the most breathtaking locations on the island – the views are nothing short of spectacular. Its links to Geoffrey Bawa and its interesting, yet short, history makes a stay here all the more engaging. The house itself is fairly modest – there are no fancy mod cons and the simple yet imaginative design evokes the past as much as the present – however the new owners are currently upgrading the house. The interiors have already been given a sensitive facelift, and look lovely, whilst two more bedrooms and a TV lounge are due to be completed by the end of 2014; they were renovating existing buildings for these behind the main house at the time of our visit (March 2014) but we were not disturbed by the work at all.

Our favourite place to pass the time was around the main swimming pool (there is a second pool to the side of the property, close to the driveway). This cliff-top pool complements the house – it’s been here for a few decades and we liked its old-school geometric design. The different shades of blue reflected the sea beyond and the terrace surrounding it was scattered with sun loungers and beanbags, one of which was placed on a protruding corner from where we could sit and watch surfers in the bay below. A little staircase leads down the hillside to the beach, and it’s a lovely spot for long strolls, swimming or body boarding (there’s a big collection of boards in the house) with care for much of the year – the sea is fairly shallow.

The staff really went out of their way to ensure that we had everything we needed, in particular the lovely chef who produced some heart-warming food. We recommend his rice and curry, which we enjoyed by candlelight down by the pool. Make sure you have a chat to the maintenance manager who’s worked at the house from the very beginning. He showed us some 25-year-old photos of the house.
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Ivory House

Ivory House

Sri Lanka » South Coast » Galle

The rural setting of Ivory House is undeniably idyllic.  Often when you stay on the coast you miss out on experiencing the island’s lush, rural hinterland.  Here you can enjoy the best of both worlds as beaches are accessible in 10-15 minutes (there are plenty of local sprays of sand for sunbathing).  Families will find this house suits them well; the gentle lawns and shallow ledge of the pool are both child-friendly.

The villa’s wraparound veranda makes the most of the rural environs, and although it is scantily furnished with only a round table for six, there are loungers in the garden and beside the pool.  Wide folding doors bridge the gap between indoors and out, and thanks to their location to the front of the house, the huge living room and the front master suite benefit most from the rural vistas.  The second master bedroom is tucked behind, but has its own side veranda, whilst the remaining two bedrooms – one of which is very small and would suit a single traveller, a child or perhaps even a nanny – open onto the living room.

The staff looked after us well and we were happy with the chef’s cooking – amongst other items, his sweet potato and coriander soup was delicious.  We’d also recommend the Sri Lankan breakfast.  Also try to visit the nearby Kahanda Kanda hotel for afternoon tea or a meal at least once during your stay.
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From $475 ++ Special 5br Rate

Bedrooms 4

Sleeps 10

Our
Rating 7.6

Pointe Sud

Pointe Sud

Sri Lanka » South Coast » Mirissa

Pointe Sud is wholly romantic. If I was lucky enough to have my husband ask me to choose anywhere in the world to build my dream home, I would also choose this fabulous spot! Superlative views and heart-warming history aside, the swimming pool here is definitely my favourite in Sri Lanka. It’s one that you feel an urge to swim (proper lengths) or wallow in day and night and has a lovely curved edge that you can comfortably lean on and look out to sea. Its to-the-side situation also gives a degree of privacy without separation from the rest of the house. The property is secure and the level of privacy here is unlike anywhere else around, and you get all of this without losing the amazing sea views or accessibility to the beach. A flight of 70 or so steps down from the pool terrace (this is not the best house for the less mobile) takes you to a lawn beside the beach that offers an attractive daytime alternative to the upper levels of the house; you can’t really swim in the sea here but there are a couple of paddling spots where you can have a soak. I loved that the house had numerous nooks for quiet time and loads of spots for dining (making it great for extended groups) with the option of daytime BBQs beside the beach. The bathrooms are modern though small, and the cosy colonial-style bedrooms purely for sleeping; admiring the views and lounging are best done from the front veranda. The staff of six were gentle, welcoming and really very discreet. Nothing was too much trouble and the lovely cook (who’s also an experienced nanny) will shop and prepare meals for you, presenting you with bills (for both food and drink) daily. At the moment it’s seafood and Sri Lankan cuisine only, so if you like curries this is a great place to enjoy them. We can’t fault the maintenance of the house, the presentation of the food and the staff’s responsiveness to our requests; they were excellent. However service is leisurely and suitably reflective of a practised home rather than the mechanical efficiency of a hotel.
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From $1,000 ++

Bedrooms 5

Sleeps 10

Our
Rating 8.2

Villa Pooja Kanda

Villa Pooja Kanda

Sri Lanka » South Coast » Habaraduwa-Koggala

Villa Pooja Kanda is located a few kilometres from the beach. It feels well off the beaten track and is extremely tranquil. We thought that the villa would suit families very well – there’s certainly enough space for two families travelling together – or a group of friends.  The garden will enchant adventurous youngsters and the air-conditioned TV room with its big screen (and good selection of DVDs) will keep them occupied for hours when its time to head inside. The pool (which is enclosed by timber fencing) reflects its natural setting; built amongst the surrounding boulders and incorporating a little waterfall.

Since our first inspection in 2010, Villa Pooja Kanda has had quite a facelift. All the bedrooms now boast four-poster beds and vibrant soft furnishings. The first floor bathrooms have been refurbished and, like those on the ground floor, are now finished in smooth cement, making them feel much more up to date. The villa is filled with some lovely colonial antique furniture, and a good stock of books in various locations make it feel more homely. In 2015 the villa’s formerly jungly garden was severely cut back and this has opened up views of the lush surrounding countryside, as well as improved airflow.

The efficient management team drops into the villa daily – or on request, and the management company’s office is just at the foot of the hill, out of sight of the main house. If you’d like to eat out, there are a few good restaurants within a 10-15 minute drive. If you need an extra bed, two can be arranged for kids for no extra charge (note: these are mattresses with mosquito nets).
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Skye House

Skye House

Sri Lanka » South Coast » Habaraduwa-Koggala

We loved everything about this fabulous house, perched on Habaraduwa’s beautiful beach.  The two upstairs suites are very grand and open directly onto a balcony that wraps around the top floor of the house and reveals incredible coastal views (you can’t really see the sea from the ground floor due to a screen of beach foliage, planted for privacy).  The house is definitely designed for families, and the ground floor twin bedroom works well for independent teens or perhaps elderly relatives keen to avoid the stairs.

The staff team are efficient and we had all of our meals cooked for us.  Most memorable was our fabulous lunch of grilled tiger prawns followed by a delicious tropical fruit pavlova.  Although there is no outdoor dining area as such, the staff can move the dining table onto the veranda or even set up lunch or dinner for you on the beach (highly recommended).  We really liked the L-shaped swimming pool and its visibility/proximity from the dining area and living pavilion, as it made it easy to keep an eye on kids.

Whilst the sea here can be rough at times (and there are no lifeguards), bathing is best during the high season (December to April), and for strong swimmers the rest of the year.  If you do plan to take a dip in the sea, let the staff know and they can advise you on the best places for a bathe.
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From $900 ++ Special 5br Rate

Bedrooms 4

Sleeps 10

Our
Rating 8.1

Villa Suriyawatta

Villa Suriyawatta

Sri Lanka » South Coast » Weligama

Suriyawatta has immediate appeal:  the location of the pool is amazing, the sea views stunning and Duminda’s cooking heightened our appreciation even more.   Relaxation comes easy here – evident from the wide lounging ledge in the pool, the comfy loungers, the cushioned daybeds and the shelves bursting with novels (both English and French, spanning all genres and eras, along with an eye-catching number of architecture and design tomes).

With three twin bedrooms, kids’ chairs, pool inflatables, garden games, a swing, and babysitters-on-call, this is an excellent villa for families (it sleeps 6 adults and four kids), and the fence between the upper and lower lawn (and the pool) provides peace of mind. Groups of friends will find the Sonos sound system wired to the pool area particularly appealing.

The excellent staff team is very professional, finding the right balance between being attentive and discreet. Great food comes out of the kitchen (and there’s a big suggestion menu), the stewards are there before you know what you need and the manager keeps everything shipshape. Distractions are well hidden; the main living room does have a TV and DVD player, but it is inside an antique cabinet. The kitchen is slightly separate from the house yet easily accessible and well equipped.
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From $730 ++

Bedrooms 5

Sleeps 6-10*

Our
Rating 8.0

The Beach House

The Beach House

Sri Lanka » South Coast » Tangalle

The Beach House is a total retreat from the outside world. Its tranquility is heavenly and it’s an excellent choice for a family who are looking for simple back-to-basics beach living without the distraction of TVs and other mod cons. Artists, writers and anyone with a creative mind or reclusive leanings will, unsurprisingly, find much to adore here, and guests get plenty of pampering from the barely-there staff headed by Dhammika, the shy chief houseboy.

The house has a unique design that suits its environment and embraces both the views and the sea breezes. It’s ridiculously quirky and we loved how Johnson’s eccentric artwork ensured that his presence lives on. The two studio rooms are quite secluded – great for adventurous teens wanting independence from their parents, or a couple looking for a little extra privacy. Do note though that The Blue Room is very small.

Although the Beach House is as characterful, timeless and restful as ever, it is looking a little run down since our first visit. A lick of paint would do it good, weatherworn soft furnishings could be replaced and we noticed that some of the mosquito screens above the windows were clogged with dust. For its price, this is a bit of a letdown – reflected in our revised value score.

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Galle Henna Estate

Galle Henna Estate

Sri Lanka » South Coast » Inland Galle

This house scores points for its location, which is tranquil and rural but also not far away from restaurants, beaches and shops. It has a wonderful garden full of fruit trees such as mango, banana and avocado that you can enjoy for breakfast and its large size offers plenty of scope for children to run around and play. Loads of birds visit the garden along with the occasional monkey so it is also a haven for nature lovers. The sunken swimming pool has a generous sun deck and is walled so that you can swim and tan in privacy, however windows in the wall allow you to look through into the paddy fields beyond which makes it feel a little less enclosed. There are three members of staff, but you hardly see them as they let you enjoy the house and make yourselves at home. The house itself is beautiful and has been very sensitively restored. It has also been decorated in such a way to make it feel very much like home. There’s lots of spots to relax both inside and outside of the house, as well as in the privacy of individual bedrooms which is a highlight for groups. The fifth, single, bedroom is very useful for a nanny or a child and has a lovely balcony overlooking the paddy fields and garden. Parents should keep an eye on children using the stairs as the steps are made from unforgiving polished cement. There’s an equipped kitchen to the rear which is ideal for self-catering, however the very friendly and helpful manager (who lives in the house next door) can also prepare lunches and dinners for you with advance notice. He will shop on your account so it’s best to give a wad of cash at the start of your stay and top it up when necessary. Unawatuna Beach and lots of restaurants are a short drive away, and the staff can arrange transport for you on request.
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IF Villa

IF Villa

Sri Lanka » South Coast » Talpe

IF is one of my favourite villas in Sri Lanka; it has such a lovely feel to it and benefits from a great layout, not to mention a fabulous beach. I’ve been here a few times and have experienced it à deux as well as with a group of friends. Like any large villa this one welcomes company and is better when full . On each occasion that I’ve stayed at IF the huge living room was rarely used and perhaps this was because there were a number of alternative, more personable, sitting spots, some of them pleasingly outdoors; the ocean-side terrace was wonderful at sunset whilst the dining pavilion’s open-sided design was delightfully breezy and sitting in here felt sociable, even when alone, as it overlooked the entire property. I like the position of the TV area as it is in a sociable spot near the bedrooms which, themselves, were breezy and comfortable (although the skylight in bedroom 1 didn’t allow us much of a lie in). The smallest double room is perhaps best for a single traveller than a couple since its bathroom is separated from the sleeping area only by a partition wall. On our stay, fishermen came to the gate to sell fish, lobster and prawns which we got the chef to cook exactly to our liking.  Meals were discussed rather than chosen from a menu, and the curries and seafood come highly recommended. The staff shop on your behalf here if you give them cash, and you can check receipts with the cook every day. Because the kitchen is set back in its own building away from the house, it gave us privacy from the staff; but even so, we found them discreet and helpful.
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* Additional charges may apply for maximum occupancy
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