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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Villas in Sri Lanka by region

Hill Country, North West Coast, South Coast, West Coast
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No. 39 Galle Fort

No. 39 Galle Fort

Sri Lanka » South Coast » Galle

Atmospheric, well located and very comfortable sum up our stay at No.39. After the hustle and bustle of the fort, diving in and out of cafés and boutiques, and photographing iconic landmarks, it was heaven to return to our tranquil and comfortable abode, which was right at the heart of everything.

Ajith, the housekeeper, welcomed us in his quiet way, always with a shy smile and, with assistance from a second member of staff, kept the house clean and tidy.  He was also the cook, and although still a novice in the kitchen, we were pleased with his efforts, especially his curries.  The menu is fairly limited but included grilled fish, salads, sandwiches and kids’ meals – all dishes Ajith felt confidant cooking.

Although this is a great family house, the cement stairs (sans stairgates) and minimal kids’ facilities make it less suitable for toddlers.  That said, there are two daybeds at the entrance to the master bedroom that can sleep children up to ten years old.
 
The soft pillowy quilts made the beds very comfortable and we particularly loved the upstairs bedroom for its extra space and breezy rooftop views.  We found the bathrooms to be fairly small, but all were nicely finished in smooth polished cement. Note that Ajith is a live-in housekeeper and spends much of his time in the kitchen or discretely in his quarters, which are located next to the garden bedroom.
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From $330 Special 2br Rate

Bedrooms 3

Sleeps 4

Our
Rating 7.2
Guest Rating 8.9

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No. 39 Galle Fort

No. 39 Galle Fort

Sri Lanka » South Coast » Galle

Atmospheric, well located and very comfortable sum up our stay at No.39. After the hustle and bustle of the fort, diving in and out of cafés and boutiques, and photographing iconic landmarks, it was heaven to return to our tranquil and comfortable abode, which was right at the heart of everything.

Ajith, the housekeeper, welcomed us in his quiet way, always with a shy smile and, with assistance from a second member of staff, kept the house clean and tidy.  He was also the cook, and although still a novice in the kitchen, we were pleased with his efforts, especially his curries.  The menu is fairly limited but included grilled fish, salads, sandwiches and kids’ meals – all dishes Ajith felt confidant cooking.

Although this is a great family house, the cement stairs (sans stairgates) and minimal kids’ facilities make it less suitable for toddlers.  That said, there are two daybeds at the entrance to the master bedroom that can sleep children up to ten years old.
 
The soft pillowy quilts made the beds very comfortable and we particularly loved the upstairs bedroom for its extra space and breezy rooftop views.  We found the bathrooms to be fairly small, but all were nicely finished in smooth polished cement. Note that Ajith is a live-in housekeeper and spends much of his time in the kitchen or discretely in his quarters, which are located next to the garden bedroom.
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79 Leyn Baan Street

79 Leyn Baan Street

Sri Lanka » South Coast » Galle

There are few homes in Galle Fort that feel as homely and as eclectic as this one.  79 Leyn Baan Street is a long house, stretching between two streets, but the configuration makes it feel very intimate.  Rooms are filled with interesting books, including many coffee table tomes on Sri Lankan architecture and design, one of which features the house itself.  Those looking for an informal home-from-home in the fort will love it here.

It is obvious that this is a family house – there is a kid’s bunkroom on the ground floor and a cupboard brimming with board games and toys – however hazards like the courtyard pond and a steep master bedroom staircase mean that we wouldn’t recommend it for children under 10.  What 79 Leyn Baan Street suits best are decadent couples looking for a private, personal and unpretentious retreat in the fort.

A trusted daily housekeeper cleans and helps in the kitchen, and the management company is on call should you need further assistance (they can also arrange for a chef to cook at the villa for a reasonable daily charge).  But the fort’s plethora of cafes and restaurants are less than a 10-minute stroll away so there’s no shortage of options for lunch and dinner.  Guests will also be kept company by Ruby, the house’s friendly dachshund.   A second entrance at the rear of the house provides nippy access to the ramparts and the little beach beyond.
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From $600 ++

Bedrooms 3

Sleeps 6

Our
Rating 7.0

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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From $505 Special 3br Rate

Bedrooms 5

Sleeps 6

Our
Rating 7.8
Guest Rating 9.0

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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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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From $900 ++

Bedrooms 4

Sleeps 8

Our
Rating 7.4

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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Coconut Grove

Coconut Grove

Sri Lanka » South Coast » Ahangama

Coconut Grove is a wonderful retreat which, despite its privacy and modern additions, including a swimming pool, offers a chance to experience life in an authentic Sri Lankan village. That said, we noticed on our recent visit that the area is seeing quite a lot of development in terms of small hotels and villas; the plus side of which being that the number of tourist-friendly restaurants is likely to increase.

The cottage is perfectly set up for families, especially as the two rooms to the front of the house have smaller double beds (or large singles), which would be perfect for children. However, it would be an equally good choice for a group of friends wishing to stay a little off the beaten track. The living areas – both inside the house and outside in the garden – offer plenty of cosy places to relax and private pockets for escape.

The wildlife is magical here, and right on your doorstep. Whilst sipping afternoon tea in the poolside pavilion we watched monkeys playing in the trees as birds twittered melodiously overhead. The large lawned garden is a fansasyland for roaming kids but supervision is necessary around the pool as it quickly gains depth.

The staff kept the house clean and tidy during our stay, and were on hand to assist us with anything we needed. The staff do not stay in the house at night although the gardener/watchman lives in a small building tucked independently to one side of the property. If the housekeeper is not needed to assist with making afternoon tea or dinner, you can dismiss her early and enjoy the run of the house all to yourselves.
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From $400 ++

Bedrooms 4

Sleeps 8

Our
Rating 7.2

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 $550 ++ Special 5br Rate

Bedrooms 4

Sleeps 10

Our
Rating 7.6

Lansiya

Lansiya

Sri Lanka » South Coast » Tangalle

What an amazing villa! Everything from the magnificent setting to the food, the service and the comfort are second to none. Lansiya exudes character and personality through artistic touches and an intelligent design, whilst the staff’s warm and discreet nature was of just the right balance to ensure that we enjoyed ourselves but also felt very much at home.

What we really loved about this villa was its spaciousness and its privacy; you can enjoy the superb views without feeling hemmed in by walls as the gardens descend down the gently sloping hillside to the boulders beside the sea. We didn’t hear any traffic noise (what a relief!); instead there’s the unrelenting sound of the waves – especially loud and sensuous from the master suite. The sun sets almost directly in front of the property and with its generous lawn it would make an incredible location for a wedding or other special event.

We loved staying in the Lansiya Hill suite, the most private and exclusive bedroom. It’s a true couples’ hideaway but also perfect for parents looking to enjoy some luxurious private time whilst their older kids occupy Lansiya House (with its cosy TV Room on the ground floor). And we’d certainly encourage honeymooning couples to be decadent and book the whole property exclusively for themselves at just $100 on top of the Lansiya Hill rate. None of Lansiya’s bedrooms has air conditioning, but thanks to the breezy hillside location we didn’t miss it at all.

The food prepared by chef Sylvester is top quality; warm date pudding and butterscotch sauce served with afternoon tea was a treat as was our Japanese lunch feast! This passionate chef has 40 years experience in the food industry, learning his craft in Japan, India, Thailand and Europe. We loved that breakfast is different everyday and all bread, sauces, dips and accompaniments are freshly made. There are no menus; you discuss your daily requirements with Sylvester and all meals and soft drinks are included in the price.

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From $500 ++ Special 3br Rate

Bedrooms 4

Sleeps 6

Our
Rating 8.3

* Additional charges may apply for maximum occupancy
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