The Great Outdoors Villas in Sri Lanka

Lazing by the pool all day not your idea of fun? Try one of these villas which are perfectly placed for discovering the great outdoors – be it hiking or biking, bird-spotting or white-water-rafting – there will be something nearby to suit those who prefer a more active holiday.

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Ocean’s Edge

Ocean’s Edge

Sri Lanka » South Coast » Tangalle

Ocean’s Edge feels very remote, isolated even, but its 23 acres of grounds, not to mention a near deserted strip of tropical beach, more than compensate for any lack of nearby amenities.  Tangalle, the nearest town, is 21 kilometres away and until recently was the only option for eating out, but a slow wave of development along neighbouring Rekawa and Ranna beaches means that hotel restaurants are now opening up closer to the villa.

As if mimicking its surroundings, Ocean’s Edge is very spacious and bright, its tall arched doorways allowing plenty of light and air to infiltrate.  The bedroom configuration is particularly good for families as the master interconnects with one of the guest rooms and all of the upstairs bedrooms can easily accommodate a cot. The master’s anteroom – used as a TV or reading lounge – has its own bathroom (with tub) and could also be used to sleep a child if required.

The beach – which is ideal for walking and jogging – is around 50 metres beyond the front of the villa.  The sea here is usually too rough for swimming but the lovely pool more than makes up for this. If you do want a dip in the ocean we recommend you head towards Tangalle, whose westerly beaches are better for bathing.  The garden is perfect for fun and games (there are a few cricket bats and balls at the villa).  

The staff made sure we had everything we needed.  The kitchen is well equipped so although you do have a cook at your disposal (his Sri Lankan dishes are very popular), self-catering is entirely possible and the staff will shop for anything you require on a cash and receipt basis.

From Ocean’s Edge you can easily embark on half-day trips to nearby bird or turtle sanctuaries and national parks; the staff can arrange transport.
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Rangala House

Rangala House

Sri Lanka » Hill Country » Kandy Region

Rangala House is a low key tea plantation bungalow of great value and charming character. If, like us, you love a tranquil setting, stunning views and an opportunity to walk some lovely hills and tea plantations of Sri Lanka, then this is definitely worth the one-hour drive from Kandy. We spent many relaxed hours sitting on the long terrace enjoying the views, catching glimpses of the wildlife and just unwinding in the cool hill climate. Having a roaring log fire during the cooler times of year must be a delight, but for us the most pleasant surprise was the swimming pool – it’s a great size, beautifully bedded into the gardens and so refreshing after a hot walk. Anthony, Rangala House’s owner, lives just around the corner and can be on hand if need be – we do recommend you invite him over as he’s a fabulous host and a mine of information on the area. He can really give a good insight into the local culture and is also pretty handy on the piano. Anthony has a wonderful team around him and the kitchen produces some fabulous food – you really will need those walks to burn off the calories. More homestay than villa but very charming and enjoyable.

The only downside to this mountainous location is that there are no restaurants or shops nearby, but this, conversely, is also the beauty of it! With this in mind, it’s perhaps best to book in for half-board, or even full-board if you don’t intend to do much travelling - it’s definitely the best food you’ll find anywhere for miles!

On our follow-up visit to Rangala, the chef excelled again and we enjoyed a fabulous lunch. The house was well maintained and the bedrooms were looking lovely and cosy. This was our first visit to The Studio, built back in 2011, which enjoys complete independence from the main house although it is right next door. We think it works well for friends travelling together or a family unit, although the ladder leading to the upper sleeping area is unsuitable for small children. With its own TV and DVD player (on request), this room is the most private of the four.
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From $493

Bedrooms 5

Sleeps 12

Our
Rating 7.2

Siri Wedamedura

Siri Wedamedura

Sri Lanka » South Coast » Mirissa

Chirruping squirrels, meowing peacocks and croaking frogs are just some of the orchestral sounds we heard at Siri Wedamadura. The tropical grounds stretch up a hillside (the house and pool are located on the lowest part of the land) and this expanse makes you feel like you are in the countryside yet the house is centrally located in Mirissa. The beach (where you’ll find lots of simple restaurants) is less than a five-minute walk away, and embarking on whale- and dolphin-watching trips couldn’t be easier as you only have to walk 200 metres or so to reach the harbour. Lined by colourful catamarans the harbour is an attraction in itself, so save some time before or after your whale-watching trip to explore.

We felt that Siri Wedamadura would be a perfect escape for families. The grounds are vast, the pool is generous, the beach is close by and the friendly staff are on hand to cook, clean and tidy. Of the four bedrooms, three are twins, but can be pushed together to make kings if required. Aside from the pool and gardens (and a lonely bluetooth iPod dock), there are few facilities here, so if you think you’ll need more entertainment, bring your laptop, DVDs and a stack of books with you. The staff were helpful and the management team (based in Galle Fort) are on call at any time.
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From $340 ++

Bedrooms 4

Sleeps 8

Our
Rating 7.6

Blue Heights

Blue Heights

Sri Lanka » South Coast » Dickwella

For a lazy, languid holiday where you come armed with a stack of books and great company, Blue Heights is the business.  The simple design and minimal interiors are unfussy and free of distractions so that you focus on the job at hand – relaxing, catching up with friends and family and absorbing the restful environment.  The ocean views and hilltop locale create a feeling of space and the convivial pool area, with sunset-worthy jacuzzi, soon became one of our favourite spots.  The open-sided dining area made the most of the views and even from the glass-walled lounge you can spy the sea whilst watching TV.  Those staying in the master bedroom do get a lot more value as the room is huge and is attached to a little private lounge with pergola roof, although the bathroom is rather narrow.  The bedroom in the main house works well for elderly relations or independent couples.

The staff, a husband and wife team, plus houseboy, were very welcoming – as was Timmy, the house’s loveable dog!  Service is casual and their English was limited so communicating was a bit of a struggle at times.  However, the villa is looked after by a management team whose area manager is always at the end of the phone.  The kitchen is basic and uninspiring, however there is a little pantry with sink and fridge for making drinks.  In any case, a cook prepares all of your meals (Sri Lankan cuisine mainly, plus a few fried rice and noodle dishes).

Note that the beach is not at the end of the garden – you need to go through the gate, turn right along the road and then wander for five minutes to the beach.  Swimming is best in the middle of the bay.
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Brockenhurst

Brockenhurst

Sri Lanka » Hill Country » Nuwara Eliya

Brockenhurst is a good private base for visiting Nuwara Eliya town and nearby attractions. Although there are few facilities – the kitchen is basic and there is no swimming pool – Brockenhurst does represent very good value.

The house can accommodate up to twelve guests; since the master bedroom has space for five (rather like a dorm room we thought) and the second bedroom can sleep three, it’s a great house for a couple of families. We felt that the ground floor bedroom would be suitable for elderly relatives who weren’t keen on stairs, making the house a good choice for extended family holidays too. Whilst the number of bathrooms equals the number of bedrooms, only two are ensuite, but this doesn’t really pose a problem. We felt that the house reflected bygone days when entertainment was made, not provided, which is certainly part of its charm.

Whilst Brockenhurst has probably changed little aesthetically since its colonial days, it has been updated; bathrooms are modern and have scorching hot showers (although the bathtubs could do with a few touch-ups here and there), and whilst the bedrooms are comfortable, they are sparsely furnished. The Sri Lankan-style kitchen is practical for staff use only. There are no menus, you can discuss meal requirements daily with Godwin, the chef, and buy your own groceries or give money to Karu, the multi-tasking caretaker of Brockenhurst, to buy them on your behalf. The chef lives in and his English is good so we didn’t have any difficulties.

Brockenhurst has been refurbished since our first visit. The hallway and living room floors have been laid with timber, which feels much warmer underfoot and more homely than the previous cement flooring. The sofas in the living room have been replaced, and the fireplace here has also been remodelled. These upgrades all make the room feel more sophisticated than it did before.

There’s a new flat-screen TV, a DVD player (although no DVDs) and WiFi internet (works best downstairs). Karu and Godwin are both still there, and were as warm and friendly as ever. They have a third team member helping them out now too. The kitchen remains fairly basic (although with Godwin cooking there’s really no reason to use this room at all) and we noticed that two of the bathrooms have been slightly upgraded.

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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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Craig Appin Bungalow

Craig Appin Bungalow

Sri Lanka » Hill Country » Hatton

We really liked Craig Appin. The rooms are all very comfortable and the four-poster beds in the two front rooms certainly look very grand. Although most of the furnishings are new, their style is redolent of the past. Bedrooms 4 and 5 are situated closest to the kitchen so in the morning, the noise of the staff preparing breakfast can sometimes be heard. Bedrooms 2 and 3 share a bathroom (you need to walk through bedroom 2 to reach it) although there is a guest WC along the corridor that occupants of bedroom 3 can use during the night. Having two living rooms was handy, so everyone can find their own space. We found the staff to be efficient, and meals were always served promptly, however only the chef spoke an acceptable level of English. Siri, the bungalow manager, drops by daily and is available at all times by phone, so it’s better to communicate any complicated requests to him, and he’ll relay the information to the staff. Lunches and dinners tend to be quite formal three-course affairs (pick from a limited set menu or let Siri know if there’s anything you would particularly like), featuring British style dishes and Sri Lankan cuisine. We preferred the local dishes, and particularly enjoyed the Sri Lankan breakfast curry spread.
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Anilana Craigbank Nuwara Eliya

Anilana Craigbank Nuwara Eliya

Sri Lanka » Hill Country » Nuwara Eliya

Anilana Craigbank is wonderfully warm and welcoming. Décor is contemporary colonial as befits this 160-year-old house which was expertly renovated and modernised by a previous French owner who lived here for many years. Despite the grand feel of the house and the enjoyable formalities of a good staff team, the atmosphere is relaxed. Each of the bedrooms is very comfortable with wonderful garden views. A selection of magazines, books, board games, DVDs and satellite TV kept us well occupied in the evenings. The Drawing Room is a cosy place to curl up with a book, and the DVD library in the TV room will keep the kids amused. It can get quite cold at night, so rooms are heated by working fireplaces whilst heavy curtains, knitted bedspreads and draught excluders all help to keep you toasty and warm.

The staff are friendly, warm and eager to make your stay as comfortable as possible; their natural hospitality also adds to the charm of staying at Anilana Craigbank. On our most recent visit, the house had come under new management. They have refurbished the house, replacing soft furnishings – the dusky walls of the bedrooms are brightened up by a contrasting collection of vibrant Sri Lankan artwork, colonial prints and Ceylonese maps; installed WiFi and brought in a few new staff. There are now a selection of priced menus for all meals, including breakfast. Two to three-course set menus for lunch and dinner always list a local and a western option, and tend to change daily. There is also a snack menu available. No alcohol is served at the house, however guests can bring their own tipples and no corkage will be charged. The house’s two tubby yet adorable labradors – Gin and Tonic – are still popular characters on the property, but can be shut away if guests would prefer. Hot water still takes a little time to work its way through the pipes!

During Sri Lankan New Year in April (typically the 13th and 14th) many Colombo residents flock here for family holidays. During this time the town is in full bloom and has a carnival atmosphere with many events – horse racing, car rallies, motor cross, golf tournaments, garden competitions and discos – being held. Prices often triple during this period and the town can get very noisy and busy. Unless you would particularly like to be here for this occasion, it is probably better avoided.

 
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Dick Oya Bungalow

Dick Oya Bungalow

Sri Lanka » Hill Country » Hatton

The winding road leading up to Dick Oya Bungalow promises something special at the top, and it doesn’t disappoint. From its glorious hilltop location you can eye 360-degree views and revel in four acres of private gardens. As soon as you arrive at the bungalow, you’re transported back in time. Although the bathrooms are quite basic, the rest of the house lives up to its promise of twenty-first century comforts and is wonderfully cosy. There are two generously sized living rooms, and each of the bedrooms come with sitting areas too meaning that there’s plenty of private space to hide away. The staff at the bungalow carry out their roles efficiently, if a little seriously, but this formality provides yet more character to a stay here. The dining room is elegant and meals are a formal affair – multiple courses for lunch and dinner are priced per person, and although they list a small selection of western and Sri Lankan options, efforts are made, where possible, to accommodate any request. The Sri Lankan dishes were our favourite, and were perhaps more in keeping with the chef’s abilities than the western dishes. Siri, the friendly off-site manager drops by daily to visit guests and assist with anything they need.
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Hideaway

Hideaway

Sri Lanka » North West Coast » Gampaha

We simply adored Hideaway, which does exactly what it says on the tin. If you want to hide away and really escape the stresses and strains of everyday life, then this is the place for you. An hour from the airport, it’s the perfect place to recuperate from a long-haul flight and a much better option than staying in Colombo. Not only was the environment blissfully relaxing, but the staff had a similar effect on us as they were clearly well-versed in pampering. Continually reminding us to treat the property as our own, they prepared the most excellent meals, and our dinner under the stars was made even more incredible by the fact that it was completely illuminated by candles. Being wined and dined so well (five unpretentious courses), yet miles from anywhere, was a real highlight for us. Whilst the property would be excellent for groups of friends or for families (big garden and shallow area in the pool for paddlers), the private open-air jacuzzis, the isolation and the staff’s discreet service urge us to highly recommend this modest house as a romantic hideaway as well.  Although the F&B arrangements are restaurant-style – with the choice of either reasonably priced set meals or à la carte options – and we were discouraged from using the kitchen, there is little that we didn’t like about Hideaway. However this villa is not the place for those looking for nightlife, or who want to be close to beaches and a good selection of restaurants or shops.
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* Additional charges may apply for maximum occupancy
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Search Results: 30 Villa(s) in 3 page(s)
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