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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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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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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Kadju House

Kadju House

Sri Lanka » South Coast » Tangalle

We thought that Kadju House would be ideal for anyone looking for some serious R&R – especially as it comes with its own ayurvedic spa: an excellent addition, especially as the villa’s location is so tranquil. A locally-renowned Ayurvedic doctor can come and consult guests, and prescribe treatments based on his findings. Relaxing massages and herbal baths can also be arranged.

Not only is the location very intimate and private, the pool enchanting and the rooms cosy, but the staff really pamper you during your stay. The villa adapts itself well to many types of holiday; bliss on the beach, a secluded retreat, or a base from which to explore the local area. The conviviality of the lounge and bar makes Kadju House a great choice for a group of friends, and nature lovers will appreciate the visiting wildlife  – we saw kingfishers and humming birds, and heard peacocks - and many of the southern wildlife parks and reserves are within easy reach. The villa’s proximity to the beach makes it a good family villa too, though possibly better suited to older children as the steps and railings might be a worry for toddlers and young children (or, indeed, for some more elderly visitors). Although the suites are quite similar in style, the views and bathroom set up of each is unique; we loved the tropical bathroom design that merges inside with out – just be prepared for the occasional visiting frog!   

A staff of five effortlessly kept the house in order and offered us a high level of personalised service, carrying out our requests with ease. Staff were discreet though friendly, and their charm seemed to be a reflection of the instinctive hospitality and warmth that comes naturally to the people of this deep south region. On our most recent visit a new cook had joined the staff. Her Sri Lankan cuisine was great, and she is experienced in a number of western dishes as well. Many herbs and vegetables are grown in the villa’s increasingly large home garden, and where possible, used in your meals. Meals are charged to guests at cost price.

Although the house works very well for larger groups, it’s also suitable for couples or small families, as it can be rented as a two bedroom property for a special discounted rate. This makes it great value.
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Khomba House

Khomba House

Sri Lanka » North West Coast » Kalpitiya

Khomba House was much bigger and grander than we’d imagined it to be and this was a wonderful surprise. Packed with places to relax, all in lovely bright tropical colours, the impetus here really is on keeping your body horizontal for as much time as possible. Daybeds double up as extra beds and this is certainly a great house for getting a gang together and enjoying some quality down time. It also makes a fab getaway for a family as the kids will love the adventure of the huge sandy garden and the beach beyond, not to mention the water sports available at the neighbouring resort. Aside from loving the amazing space that the house offered, we also were very taken by the genuine warmth of housekeepers Sisira and his wife Indrani. Sisira always had a smile on his face and was happy to assist with any request whilst Indrani was a whizz in the kitchen and her Sri Lankan food was delicious. There aren’t actually any menus in the villa, but Indrani is open to guests’ suggestions. Meals are charged at US$5 per person plus groceries at cost price plus 10% to cover fuel and basics.
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Kikili Beach

Kikili Beach

Sri Lanka » South Coast » Talpe

Kikili Beach is one of a kind; fresh, fun and fabulous. We loved its bright and bubbly design but also its emphasis on complete and utter rest and relaxation away from the crowds. It was a real privilege to stay here as it felt exactly as though we had walked into someone else’s well loved home. The atmosphere is totally stress free and we felt truly pampered. The housekeeper is an excellent chef and his culinary creations made us unwilling to go out; we picked out daily menus of succulent seafood, crisp salads and wickedly tempting desserts that were also economical as groceries are bought by the chef and charged at cost price. Although there’s an iPod dock we enjoyed listening to the owner’s collection of CDs, and found the book collection captivating (foodies will adore the cookery books). There are also plenty of magazines to get stuck into, as well as lots of information about the house and the local attractions – very useful. Whilst the house is quite small, it doesn’t feel that way as the generous verandah provides further scope for relaxing and dining. With only one bedroom, Kikili is really designed for couples (will suit younger couples best), but with the addition of a spare mattress or cot (on request) families with young children could be comfortable staying here too (babysitting can be organised on request). Kikili is also a wonderfully social house (especially with Kumara – the chef/housekeeper – taking care of everything from the shopping and cooking to the serving and cleaning up!) so if you want to have friends round for drinks and dinner it is entirely possible. Certainly Kikili’s guestbook is filled with superlatives from visitors who have not only enjoyed the tranquillity of the house but also the company of Kumara. He has a couple of nights off a week, so use this time to wander down to Wijaya to enjoy the chilled vibes and excellent food of this rustic beach restaurant or take your pick from the ones in Unawatuna.
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Villa Kumara

Villa Kumara

Sri Lanka » South Coast » Mirissa

Built in 2013 (and extended to add a third bedroom suite in 2015), Kumara Villa presents a contemporary Sri Lankan aesthetic. The self-contained bedroom suites ideally suit three couples or a couple of families travelling together, as there is ample space in each suite to sleep a child in an extra bed. The living pavilion is very spacious, made even more so by the bi-fold doors that seamlessly blend the indoors with the pool terrace, and share the views. We loved the guest kitchen (it’s also aptly equipped) and spent hours beside the pool watching the birds and monkeys in the trees beyond.

The staff were efficient and organised, whilst also being discreet. The maids have set times in the morning and evening for cleaning the bedrooms, and the whole villa was spotless. The food we ate was good, particularly the Sri Lankan curries and all meals (except the daily ‘Tropical’ breakfast, which is included in the rate) are charged to the guest account on a cost basis. Our only complaint was that the staff were perhaps a little too prompt with meal service, meaning that if we weren’t as prompt at getting to the table, our meals might have been cold.

It takes about 15 minutes to walk to Weligama’s eastern strands although taking a tuk-tuk to the main surfing beach or Mirissa’s pretty sands is a quicker option. There are a couple of bicycles at the villa for guest use, but these are better for exploring the quieter lanes inland.
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