Villas in Sri Lanka

There are few islands in the world where the scenery is so diverse, and so quickly varied. Visitors who come to Sri Lanka cannot fail to be moved by this irresistible chameleon-like charm, her warm-hearted people and her rich multi-cultural vibe. And, despite the island’s popularity with visitors, it still feels like an untouched paradise.

Sri Lanka offers something for everyone. There’s the ancient Sinhalese ruins of the Cultural Triangle; the Hill Country’s colonial plantation bungalows, misty peaks and endless tea; Kandy’s revered Temple of the Tooth; national parks where leopards, elephants and bears roam free; and the warm turquoise seas where you can see whales and dolphins, and scuba to coral reefs.

This island’s endless swathes of unspoilt palm-speckled beaches are its biggest draw. The sultry south-west stretch linking the water sports capital of Bentota, the historic 17th century fortified city of Galle and the rustic shoreline of Tangalle is the most developed, accessible and popular, and also where most of the island’s villas – many atmospheric heritage homes - can be found.

Both the island’s geography and its multi-ethnic community are reflected in the national cuisine. Spices, particularly cinnamon, attracted overseas traders many years ago, and they feature strongly in the island’s wonderful curries, which tend to be much hotter (and better!) than their Indian equivalents.

Sri Lanka’s relatively small size means that you can take in the best of the island’s attractions within a few weeks. The south-west coast and hill country are at their climatic best between December and April, which is when the majority of visitors come. The inter-monsoonal northern summer months are not to be avoided either as quick downpours intersperse long sunny days.

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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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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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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 $504 Special 3br Rate

Bedrooms 5

Sleeps 6

Our
Rating 7.8
Guest Rating 9.0

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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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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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From $1,750

Bedrooms 5

Sleeps 10

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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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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From $1,500 Special 3br Rate

Bedrooms 5

Sleeps 6

Our
Rating 8.0
Guest Rating 9.5

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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The Dutch House

The Dutch House

Sri Lanka » South Coast » Galle

A favourite with visiting celebs – Sting once stayed here – the Dutch House manages to be both majestic and homely at the same time. It’s a true refuge, not only because of its large garden and hilltop location, but also because of the discreet, warm nature of the staff who keep the house so perfectly in order. Attention to detail – from the banana leaf-wrapped soaps in the bathrooms to sun hats and wicker bags in the suites – is an obvious source of pride. The house’s serene location made it hard to believe that we were staying in Galle. Everything is within walking distance, though three-wheelers are recommended to transport you up the steep hill back to the house! The large garden has plenty of outside seating (we loved the double lounger on the veranda) and was looking particularly lush on our recent return visit. The management told us that more and more weddings are being hosted at the house (for up to 200 people). Although the staff are very capable, the management team work with an experienced local events company for larger affairs. The wonderful vintage Rover parked outside the front door is an atmospheric companion to the house, and although this particular model is not roadworthy, vintage car hire can be organised for a colonial-style tour of town. Note that there are no TVs or DVDs (instead, hundred of books) but there are CD players – one in each suite. Whilst breakfast, lunch and snacks are served at The Dutch House, dinner is at sister property the Sun House (boutique seven-room hotel) just across the road. Here, three-course set dinners are served, with menus changing nightly. Guests can request to dine privately at ‘home’ on occasion, but we felt that although the food is unquestionably good at the Sun House, the Dutch House is a slightly let down by the fact that it doesn’t have its own private full-time chef.
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From $2,000 ++

Bedrooms 4

Sleeps 8

Our
Rating 8.2

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

* Additional charges may apply for maximum occupancy
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Search Results: 76 Villa(s) in 8 page(s)
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