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
Search Results: 79 Villa(s) in 8 page(s)
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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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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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Footprints Villa

Footprints Villa

Sri Lanka » South Coast » Talpe

Since it didn’t look huge from the outside, we were delighted by how spacious Footprints actually was. With living areas spread over two floors, it’s big enough for large groups to scatter themselves about, and the overall feel of the place is very personable and homely. To one end of the pool is a shaded dining area that’s a breezy (if slightly gloomy) all-day sea view spot to sit, and there’s bench seating so you can squeeze quite a few people around the table. The swimming pool area currently (March 2012) looks a little bare, but the management told us that they are soon to spruce it up with lush greenery.

There’s a small staff team of a cook/maid and a security/maintenance man who also doubles up as a waiter and gardener. The cook is shy to speak English and service is fairly laid back, yet both are friendly and when large groups stay at the villa another staff member is drafted in to help. There’s a small menu, which continues to grow as the cook learns more dishes; our evening meal of chicken korma was delicious. Two managers (a couple) drop by every now and then to ensure the smooth running of the villa and assist with any enquiries, which really helps; WiFi wasn’t working when we arrived, however they quickly arranged for the appropriate people to come and fix the problem.

We felt that Footprints would particularly suit groups of friends looking to chill out and spend time together within treading distance of restaurants and bars (there’s a very popular one just 100m down the beach). Anyone who lusts after air conditioning would also be happy here – there are few fully air-conditioned villas along this stretch of coastline. It’s a good family house too (although some may grow tired of wandering up and down stairs to reach the bedrooms). Note that one of the bedrooms is fitted with waterbed. Although it looked (and felt) comfortable, we opted for a more traditional mattress!

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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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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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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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Illuketia

Illuketia

Sri Lanka » South Coast » Inland Galle

We thought Illuketia was a charming villa in a delightfully peaceful, rural location. The house has a fabulous colonial design, is airy and spacious and filled with an interesting collection of art and antiques. The wraparound veranda is a great feature and perfect for informal dining, especially as each side offers a different view of the garden. The four double suites are cosy and well-presented however a couple of the bathrooms are a little dated and Waterlily’s (Bedroom 4) intimate size is better suited to children or just one adult.

The villa staff were quiet but efficient. They swept the house and lawns every morning, assembled huge arrangements of flowers and served up well-presented meals of Sri Lankan and eastern cuisine (they can do western cuisine too). On our most recent visit we spied aubergines, gourds, chillies and other fresh produce neatly planted in rows in the organic garden. It’s lovely to know you’re eating fresh produce from the estate (and be able to go see it growing!). This, combined with the villa’s efforts at water recycling and their use of solar power, makes Illuketia an attractive eco friendly choice.

Manager Chathuri is delightfully helpful, but since she also manages Apa Villa Talpe (where she has an office), she’s not always on-site. Illuketiya is a great villa for friends, families, groups, nature-lovers and couples, and also makes a glorious setting for small weddings, which the staff are well versed in hosting. Despite the swimming pool being a 100m walk from the house, the staff will set up tables down here underneath the great boughs of the trees for lunch or dinner; nothing seems too much trouble for them. Note that the villa is a good ten minutes inland from Galle and can be tricky to find.
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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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