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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Indisch

Indisch

Sri Lanka » South Coast » Ahangama

We loved Indisch’s setting on a sweeping curve of coastline; the ocean panorama made all the more interesting by the waves crashing onto rocks just offshore.  Indisch is incredibly spacious, and with plenty of places to enjoy privacy it’s ideal for a couple of families, friends travelling together or even for big family reunions.  There’s a wide veranda to the front (with sun screens that are very effective at reducing glare without blocking the garden and sea from view) where we dined most of the time or sat quietly and read.  We liked that there’s a music system built into the living areas (although it doesn’t connect with an iPod), and the TV in the study is a good distraction for kids – and us, on a rainy day.  Run with the efficiency of a hotel, Indisch has a big attentive staff team and an excellent chef who dazzled us with his repertoire of dishes – Sri Lankan and international.  The kitchen is principally the domain of the staff but parents needing to prepare children’s or babies’ meals are welcome to use it on request.

Indisch is 30 minutes’ from Galle’s dining scene, but the villa food is so good that this doesn’t matter. This slightly away-from-it-all location might be just what many people are looking for.

The villa has a vintage Mercedes which can be used to take guests on nostalgic rides through the neighbourhood (recommended), and there is also a van at the villa which can be made available to guests (charges apply).

We’ve stayed in lots of villas over the years, and it’s fair to say that Indisch is one of the most immaculately presented and staffed in Sri Lanka.  On our recent visit, we were impressed by how well the villa has been maintained - it still looks new, and the dedicated staff team seemed to be constantly cleaning.  We visited as a big group and the excellent chef managed to pull off a spectacular dinner every night – we requested Sri Lankan food most of the time, and he managed to make every meal different.  The villa’s garden has matured beautifully and forms a natural screen from the beach, ensuring privacy.
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From $1,500

Bedrooms 5

Sleeps 8-10*

Our
Rating 8.6

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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Victoria

Victoria

Sri Lanka » South Coast » Talpe

As soon as we crossed the serene lotus pond into the house, Victoria’s tranquillity was obvious. The villa was built to exhibit the character of a traditional Sri Lankan home and although only 15 years old, it is still quite a few years older than many of its neighbouring villas. However, we felt that its classical build, elegant decor and pretty palm-dotted lawn made it feel timeless, whilst up-to-date facilities – movie room, iPod docking station – combined with the vivid blue colour scheme added necessary contemporary touches. The experienced staff also added to the enjoyment of our stay. They went about their work discreetly and we were impressed by their attention to small details, such as remembering how we took our tea and which foods we did and didn’t like. The cook was very amenable and able to cook a wide variety of cuisines – from typical Sri Lankan meals to Thai and Chinese dishes – with ease. The food was not only good but economical and the kitchen is also very well equipped for self-caterers . Each of Victoria’s bedrooms offers plenty of comfort although there’s only one with direct sea views. None of the rooms in the house is air conditioned except for the TV Room, which made watching a movie much more comfortableThe pool in the garden is a real treat and although not especially big, it more than makes up for the lack of sea swimming possibilities just beyond the villa wall.
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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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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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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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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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Kadju House

Kadju House

Sri Lanka » South Coast » Tangalle

We thought that Kadju House would be ideal for anyone looking for some serious R&R – especially as it comes with its own ayurvedic spa: an excellent addition, especially as the villa’s location is so tranquil. A locally-renowned Ayurvedic doctor can come and consult guests, and prescribe treatments based on his findings. Relaxing massages and herbal baths can also be arranged.

Not only is the location very intimate and private, the pool enchanting and the rooms cosy, but the staff really pamper you during your stay. The villa adapts itself well to many types of holiday; bliss on the beach, a secluded retreat, or a base from which to explore the local area. The conviviality of the lounge and bar makes Kadju House a great choice for a group of friends, and nature lovers will appreciate the visiting wildlife  – we saw kingfishers and humming birds, and heard peacocks - and many of the southern wildlife parks and reserves are within easy reach. The villa’s proximity to the beach makes it a good family villa too, though possibly better suited to older children as the steps and railings might be a worry for toddlers and young children (or, indeed, for some more elderly visitors). Although the suites are quite similar in style, the views and bathroom set up of each is unique; we loved the tropical bathroom design that merges inside with out – just be prepared for the occasional visiting frog!   

A staff of five effortlessly kept the house in order and offered us a high level of personalised service, carrying out our requests with ease. Staff were discreet though friendly, and their charm seemed to be a reflection of the instinctive hospitality and warmth that comes naturally to the people of this deep south region. On our most recent visit a new cook had joined the staff. Her Sri Lankan cuisine was great, and she is experienced in a number of western dishes as well. Many herbs and vegetables are grown in the villa’s increasingly large home garden, and where possible, used in your meals. Meals are charged to guests at cost price.

Although the house works very well for larger groups, it’s also suitable for couples or small families, as it can be rented as a two bedroom property for a special discounted rate. This makes it great value.
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* Additional charges may apply for maximum occupancy
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