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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Mirissa Hills - Mount Cinnamon

Mirissa Hills - Mount Cinnamon

Sri Lanka » South Coast » Mirissa

Mount Cinnamon at Mirissa Hills is one of the most beautifully sited villas on the south coast and its design makes the most of the jaw-dropping 360-degree views.

Presentation is impeccable (although sometimes we felt we shouldn’t move a chair out of place in case we spoilt the symmetry!) and its interior decor – artwork especially - quirky, educated and informed. When we went back to visit in March 2013, we were glad to see that almost nothing had changed.

The villa is very spacious. Three of the bedrooms have their own private balcony or terraces which give couples within groups the opportunity to relax in private. Three extra mattresses are available which gives good options to one, or more than one, family travelling together whilst two of the double bedrooms can also be set up as twins. Children will enjoy the run of the lawns and whilst supervision is necessary, the lay of the garden makes it easy to keep an eye on them. The front lawn is expansive and offers a wonderfully picturesque location for yoga perhaps, or weddings and other intimate celebrations, which the staff are well versed in arranging.

Having their own quarters and kitchen, the staff at Mount Cinnamon are always in attendance but are discreet and let guests enjoy having the property to themselves. They offer tea and drinks throughout the day and discuss preferences for meals in advance; a menu is available (lunch and dinner have set prices per person according to meat, seafood and vegetarian dishes) and the chef will happily guide you as to his best creations. His rice and curry, a renowned lunchtime staple at Mount Cinnamon, should certainly not be missed. Guests can also use the second kitchen to make their own meals if they wish or prepare food for babies and young children. Tables can be set up anywhere  - we recommend the front lawn under the light of a million stars!

 
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Mirissa Hills - The Bungalow

Mirissa Hills - The Bungalow

Sri Lanka » South Coast » Mirissa

The Bungalow at Mirissa Hills is a great base from which to explore the surrounding area. You are not limited to the grounds immediately surrounding the bungalow since, as part of the Mirissa Hills estate, guests can explore the cinnamon plantation on foot and climb up the hill to appreciate the beautiful views. Sited on a small rise above the village and paddy fields, the bungalow has a garden ringed by high trees that feels private and enclosed. Children will enjoy the freedom to run around and explore.

With three rooms, two of which are twin, we felt the bungalow would be especially good for families, however the seclusion and comfortable simplicity would also make it a good choice for those looking for a longer stay; perhaps writers and artists. The houseboy at the bungalow takes care of everyday chores from making the beds to securing the house at night. We found him to be helpful and friendly, and although he stays in the house (in a room at the back) he keeps a discreet distance. He is joined by an experienced chef who prepares excellent Sri Lankan and Continental cuisine at each of the Mirissa Hills properties; a rice and curry demonstration by him in the Cinnamon Museum’s authentic Sri Lankan open kitchen is definitely recommended. Most meals at the bungalow are prepared by the chef, and the rates are inclusive of breakfast (there are set prices for lunch and dinner), however the kitchen is also available for guests’ use if they would like to do some cooking for themselves. You can discuss your preferences with the houseboy or chef daily or request to see a menu; or visit the restaurant at the Cinnamon Museum for a change of scene.
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Olanda Beach House

Olanda Beach House

Sri Lanka » South Coast » Talpe

If you love lounging as much as we do then you’ll find Olanda Beach House a great place to just put your feet up, sit back and enjoy the sea views. By day, languish by the pool or in the garden ambalama; at dusk, grab your place on the built-in sofa beside the sea to watch the sun set over the palm-tree fringed headland as the staff whip up a cocktail (best to byo). The beach seems to get a few more visitors by late afternoon so, for even more privacy, you could head to the crow’s nest lounge (above the swimming pool) to watch the fishermen and swimmers from above. The villa is very child-friendly in that the lawn spreads out very visibly to the front, whilst the shallow end of the pool is a great place for toddlers to splash about. For diversion, a pool table is available as well as a TV with DVD player but there’s no dedicated TV Room. There are only a few books and board games, and while there’s no actual stereo you can play your iPod courtesy of a cable link to the DVD player.

Meals can be served indoors or out; just talk to the staff about your preferences. There are no menus at the villa so you need to be imaginative, however bear in mind that fish and seafood are plentiful. Discuss your meal requirements with the chef daily and the staff will then go out to shop for fresh produce (at market prices) and drinks. It’s best to furnish them with cash on arrival and then keep topping it up as appropriate (they will provide receipts).

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Old Palm House

Old Palm House

Sri Lanka » South Coast » Galle

Old Palm House is easily one of the best inland properties near Galle. Perched on a hilltop with views out over a leafy valley, it’s tropical, tranquil and one of my favourite places to stay. This hidden oasis offers the best of both worlds – easy accessibility to the beach (five minutes’ drive) and the opportunity to experience life (and explore) inland. The house is designed very much for succumbing to the easy, relaxed pace of life of the tropics. Polished cement floors keep you cool underfoot and oversized sofas are a delight to melt into. Being open on three sides, the dining area to the front of the house is light and airy, and makes a lovely venue for a meal, by day or night. Housekeeper Chinteka whips up a mean cocktail or two and kept us very well fed - you can ask him for just about anything. The other staff members were always enthusiastic, smiling and eager to please. Nothing seemed too much trouble. Although this is a four-bedroomed house, one of the rooms (the single) is very small and best suited to a child or a nanny. The master bedroom definitely overshadows the others in size and outlook, so you may have to draw straws for it; but for one family, the villa layout is superb – and the pool’s shallow lounging shelf is ideal for little paddlers.
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The Petals

The Petals

Sri Lanka » South Coast » Unawatuna

This is a really lovely little hideaway and we cherished the short time we spent here. Few places so close to the beach are more peaceful and private than The Petals.  Although the house itself is fairly compact, it has a big tropical garden and contains all the basics for a relaxing holiday, including a fabulous pool.  It would be ideal for two couples (bearing in mind that one bedroom is a little smaller than the other) or a family of four; the terrace living space is generous, and you can always escape to the hammocks at the bottom of the garden if you need a little peace and quiet: this lovely spot beyond the pool feels far removed from the house.  The two members of staff are both very polite though speak limited English which can be a bit of a struggle at times although one is learning so over time this won't be an issue.  Service is unfussy and relaxed (more home-style than hotel-polished), and the staff left us to our own devices much of the time but were never far away if we needed something (there’s a small staff house close to the gateway where they stay).  The kitchen is well-equipped and the house comes with a CD player, iPod dock and WiFi internet connection.  There isn’t much to divert you from reading and relaxing as there’s no TV so we’d suggest bringing a laptop and a selection of DVDs with you if you fancy watching a few films.
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Pointe Sud

Pointe Sud

Sri Lanka » South Coast » Mirissa

Pointe Sud is wholly romantic. If I was lucky enough to have my husband ask me to choose anywhere in the world to build my dream home, I would also choose this fabulous spot! Superlative views and heart-warming history aside, the swimming pool here is definitely my favourite in Sri Lanka. It’s one that you feel an urge to swim (proper lengths) or wallow in day and night and has a lovely curved edge that you can comfortably lean on and look out to sea. Its to-the-side situation also gives a degree of privacy without separation from the rest of the house. The property is secure and the level of privacy here is unlike anywhere else around, and you get all of this without losing the amazing sea views or accessibility to the beach. A flight of 70 or so steps down from the pool terrace (this is not the best house for the less mobile) takes you to a lawn beside the beach that offers an attractive daytime alternative to the upper levels of the house; you can’t really swim in the sea here but there are a couple of paddling spots where you can have a soak. I loved that the house had numerous nooks for quiet time and loads of spots for dining (making it great for extended groups) with the option of daytime BBQs beside the beach. The bathrooms are modern though small, and the cosy colonial-style bedrooms purely for sleeping; admiring the views and lounging are best done from the front veranda. The staff of six were gentle, welcoming and really very discreet. Nothing was too much trouble and the lovely cook (who’s also an experienced nanny) will shop and prepare meals for you, presenting you with bills (for both food and drink) daily. At the moment it’s seafood and Sri Lankan cuisine only, so if you like curries this is a great place to enjoy them. We can’t fault the maintenance of the house, the presentation of the food and the staff’s responsiveness to our requests; they were excellent. However service is leisurely and suitably reflective of a practised home rather than the mechanical efficiency of a hotel.
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Pointe Sud

Pointe Sud

Sri Lanka » South Coast » Mirissa

Pointe Sud is wholly romantic. If I was lucky enough to have my husband ask me to choose anywhere in the world to build my dream home, I would also choose this fabulous spot! Superlative views and heart-warming history aside, the swimming pool here is definitely my favourite in Sri Lanka. It’s one that you feel an urge to swim (proper lengths) or wallow in day and night and has a lovely curved edge that you can comfortably lean on and look out to sea. Its to-the-side situation also gives a degree of privacy without separation from the rest of the house. The property is secure and the level of privacy here is unlike anywhere else around, and you get all of this without losing the amazing sea views or accessibility to the beach. A flight of 70 or so steps down from the pool terrace (this is not the best house for the less mobile) takes you to a lawn beside the beach that offers an attractive daytime alternative to the upper levels of the house; you can’t really swim in the sea here but there are a couple of paddling spots where you can have a soak. I loved that the house had numerous nooks for quiet time and loads of spots for dining (making it great for extended groups) with the option of daytime BBQs beside the beach. The bathrooms are modern though small, and the cosy colonial-style bedrooms purely for sleeping; admiring the views and lounging are best done from the front veranda. The staff of six were gentle, welcoming and really very discreet. Nothing was too much trouble and the lovely cook (who’s also an experienced nanny) will shop and prepare meals for you, presenting you with bills (for both food and drink) daily. At the moment it’s seafood and Sri Lankan cuisine only, so if you like curries this is a great place to enjoy them. We can’t fault the maintenance of the house, the presentation of the food and the staff’s responsiveness to our requests; they were excellent. However service is leisurely and suitably reflective of a practised home rather than the mechanical efficiency of a hotel.
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Pointe Sud

Pointe Sud

Sri Lanka » South Coast » Mirissa

Pointe Sud is wholly romantic. If I was lucky enough to have my husband ask me to choose anywhere in the world to build my dream home, I would also choose this fabulous spot! Superlative views and heart-warming history aside, the swimming pool here is definitely my favourite in Sri Lanka. It’s one that you feel an urge to swim (proper lengths) or wallow in day and night and has a lovely curved edge that you can comfortably lean on and look out to sea. Its to-the-side situation also gives a degree of privacy without separation from the rest of the house. The property is secure and the level of privacy here is unlike anywhere else around, and you get all of this without losing the amazing sea views or accessibility to the beach. A flight of 70 or so steps down from the pool terrace (this is not the best house for the less mobile) takes you to a lawn beside the beach that offers an attractive daytime alternative to the upper levels of the house; you can’t really swim in the sea here but there are a couple of paddling spots where you can have a soak. I loved that the house had numerous nooks for quiet time and loads of spots for dining (making it great for extended groups) with the option of daytime BBQs beside the beach. The bathrooms are modern though small, and the cosy colonial-style bedrooms purely for sleeping; admiring the views and lounging are best done from the front veranda. The staff of six were gentle, welcoming and really very discreet. Nothing was too much trouble and the lovely cook (who’s also an experienced nanny) will shop and prepare meals for you, presenting you with bills (for both food and drink) daily. At the moment it’s seafood and Sri Lankan cuisine only, so if you like curries this is a great place to enjoy them. We can’t fault the maintenance of the house, the presentation of the food and the staff’s responsiveness to our requests; they were excellent. However service is leisurely and suitably reflective of a practised home rather than the mechanical efficiency of a hotel.
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Rangala House

Rangala House

Sri Lanka » Hill Country » Kandy Region

Rangala House is a low key tea plantation bungalow of great value and charming character. If, like us, you love a tranquil setting, stunning views and an opportunity to walk some lovely hills and tea plantations of Sri Lanka, then this is definitely worth the one-hour drive from Kandy. We spent many relaxed hours sitting on the long terrace enjoying the views, catching glimpses of the wildlife and just unwinding in the cool hill climate. Having a roaring log fire during the cooler times of year must be a delight, but for us the most pleasant surprise was the swimming pool – it’s a great size, beautifully bedded into the gardens and so refreshing after a hot walk. Anthony, Rangala House’s owner, lives just around the corner and can be on hand if need be – we do recommend you invite him over as he’s a fabulous host and a mine of information on the area. He can really give a good insight into the local culture and is also pretty handy on the piano. Anthony has a wonderful team around him and the kitchen produces some fabulous food – you really will need those walks to burn off the calories. More homestay than villa but very charming and enjoyable.

The only downside to this mountainous location is that there are no restaurants or shops nearby, but this, conversely, is also the beauty of it! With this in mind, it’s perhaps best to book in for half-board, or even full-board if you don’t intend to do much travelling - it’s definitely the best food you’ll find anywhere for miles!

On our follow-up visit to Rangala, the chef excelled again and we enjoyed a fabulous lunch. The house was well maintained and the bedrooms were looking lovely and cosy. This was our first visit to The Studio, built back in 2011, which enjoys complete independence from the main house although it is right next door. We think it works well for friends travelling together or a family unit, although the ladder leading to the upper sleeping area is unsuitable for small children. With its own TV and DVD player (on request), this room is the most private of the four.
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Villa Republic Bentota

Villa Republic Bentota

Sri Lanka » West Coast » Bentota

    Villa Republic bursts with character and is definitely one-of-a-kind. Apart from its more obvious links with social revolution, the colour red makes its presence felt in many other exotic forms here; the heliconia flowers that droop heavily onto the lawn, the windsurfing boards criss-crossing the river and the great big ball of fiery sun that descends right in front of the villa every evening. This is a magical place to stay, not only because the villa is homely and convivial but also because there’s so much right on its doorstep; water sports, beaches, river exploration, inland cycling, spas, restaurants, and the list goes on.

    The master suite is a lot more spacious than the other four bedrooms, which means a toss of a coin if staying with friends, but heaven for parents with a gaggle of kids in tow. For a five-bedroom property, Villa Republic Bentota is very good value. All food is charged at cost price and we enjoyed delicious local curries and pasta dishes during our stay. Mr Fernando heads up the staff team of three (plus security guards) and although he strived to make sure we were always well-fed and watered, we liked that he left us to our own devices too.

    We weren’t massively keen on the fixed glass panels in the master suite that covered two of the side doorways, as it would have been nice to have the breeze flowing freely from the garden. That said, the glass panelling at the front was wonderful for maximising views of the river right from the bed (with AC on high!): by day we watched water skiers, jet skiers and wind surfers, and in the early morning before anyone was around, we watched fishermen embarking upriver. Note that the villa’s garden isn’t large, so although you’ve got loads to do on your doorstep, space might be limiting for energetic young kids.
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