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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From $280 Special 2br Rate

Bedrooms 3

Sleeps 4

Our
Rating 7.2
Guest Rating 8.9

Real-time Availability

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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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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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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From $345 Special 3br Rate

Bedrooms 5

Sleeps 6

Our
Rating 7.4
Guest Rating 9.1

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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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32 Middle Street

32 Middle Street

Sri Lanka » South Coast » Galle

Once the doors of 32 Middle Street were closed behind us we felt instantly at home. The property felt secluded and its courtyard swimming pool and rooftop sundeck offered plenty of scope for relaxation. Indoors, we loved curling up on the squashy sofas in the living room and admiring the Asian artwork, owners’ photographs and interesting reading material that personified the property. Each room is large, although the master bedroom with its balcony overlooking the pool and sumptuous en-suite bathroom is easily the most exclusive. The house is well set up for families (best for older children), groups of friends and couples who will love the seclusion and privacy. The open-plan design of the two downstairs bedrooms, with the bathroom forming part of the room, albeit behind a concrete screen wall, might not suit everyone.

The helpful villa staff can prepare meals at cost price with prior notice, and Marloni’s delicious rice and curry was a real treat. The villa’s good management team can also assist with local travel arrangements.
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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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Ambalama

Ambalama

Sri Lanka » South Coast » Talpe

We found Ambalama to be a very flexible beach villa, suitable for families, groups of friends and even decadent couples. It is spacious enough to host larger groups and its sociable layout maximises party potential (as does the iPod docking station and Bose sound system). Each bedroom is similarly sized which saves arguments about who sleeps where (although the bedrooms to the far sides of the villa perhaps offer the most privacy and are a little more special with their tropical outdoor showers). There is plenty of space inside the villa and outside on the pool terrace for dining, and every meal is an occasion, reflecting chef Roshan’s five star hotel training in a wide range of delicious fusion cuisine. Ingredients (on guest account) are bought fresh from the market each day.     

The staff at Ambalama are proficient and present service with a smile; offering to unpack our suitcase on arrival and serving us chilled G&Ts on the pool terrace overlooking the sea at sunset. A pair of non-resident managers drop by to welcome guests and make sure they have everything they require, and are on call if advice is needed about where to eat out, or to help with any travel arrangements (Roshan doubles up as an in-house manager and can also assist with most guest queries).

Whilst there isn’t a TV or DVD player at the villa, these can be organised with prior arrangement – although it’s probably best to bring your own DVDs with you, as well as childrens’ games if needs be. Whilst the narrow beach outside Ambalama isn’t great for swimming, you only have to walk five minutes to the nearest swimming beach. That said, there are few villas on the Galle coast better located than Ambalama; beaches, restaurants, shops and attractions are all within a short walk or drive.
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Apsara

Apsara

Sri Lanka » West Coast » Bentota

What a wonderful villa! Apsara offered us plush comfort, an excellent chef and a wonderful riverside location all within easy reach of Bentota’s long sweep of beach. We enjoyed the company of the staff who always greeted us with a smile and made us feel so welcome. The chef, in particular, stood out for his conviviality and amazing food. The house and garden were both immaculate: it felt as though we were the first ever visitors. The lighting was also especially good. The bedrooms and living areas are all air conditioned, although we just left the doors open as there was always a refreshing breeze coming off the river.

There’s a wall-mounted DVD and Blu-ray disc player in the living room (loads of DVDs) and a surround-sound music system with iPod dock set up so you can hear your favourite tunes inside or by the pool. There’s also a good WiFi connection throughout the villa so you can easily get online if you bring your own kit.

Apsara has its own private jetty and is well connected with a locally renowned water sports outfitter who can come and pick you up from the villa in their boat. There’s a good supermarket just up the road from the villa that stocks loads of imported goods and the fresh produce market is right on your doorstep too. The staff will buy groceries for you though, and with such an amazing chef to feed you (and a wonderful menu) it’s unlikely you’ll be doing much more than ‘window’ shopping.

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Auraliya

Auraliya

Sri Lanka » South Coast » Talpe

This is a fabulous villa. Standouts include the stunning sea views, gorgeous beach, expansive outside space and heartwarming team of staff, not to mention the great food. Everything about the villa is very family friendly and group orientated - the sky blue swimming pool with its shallow ledge; the huge garden with plenty of space for the kids to indulge in cricket or football; the interconnecting rooms; and the lovely beach with calm sea ideal for paddling.

We thought the staff were excellent; friendly, experienced and capable. The chef was particularly enthusiastic and his cooking was fabulous. He’ll even make snacks for kids such as jammy dodgers, an all-time favourite. He will also stock the kitchen with basic provisions prior to your arrival, and prepare your first two meals so that you can arrive relaxed and at ease. There’s a Nespresso coffee machine in the villa, but as you can’t buy the capsules in Sri Lanka, you’ll need to bring some with you. If we needed anything else, the staff shopped for us and they were able to arrange transport for us to visit attractions, restaurants and the fort at Galle.

Visiting in March 2013, three years after our original review, we were pleased to discover that the villa has the same lovely staff team and is as immaculately presented as before. Each master bedroom has its own mini fridge and the villa is also now equipped with a generator.


 
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