The Sandhya Ahangama
A departure from the typical colonial-style villas or local surf shack properties that line Sri Lanka’s south coast to the east of Galle, The Sandhya is a head-turner. Set on a powdery white sands of Kabalana Beach, steps away from the turquoise surf, the low-slung property’s clean, sharp lines serve as a contemporary canvas for a mood board imbued with Scandinavian sensibilities. And so, a double height lobby - complete with a striking curved staircase - and a small offering of just nine guestrooms, are dressed in muted tones, warming timbers and mid-century modern-inspired furniture designed by Sebastian Conran-trained Linden Davis of Only & Co. Floor-to-ceiling windows make the most of the breathtaking view, which can be enjoyed over breakfast, lunch and dinner, served up in the hotel’s farm-to-table restaurant which, incidentally has become the talk of town for its elevated comfort food like the deliciously crisp Peking-style fried chicken burger or the silky butter chicken curry.
Kabalana Beach,Baranige Watha, Walhengoda, Ahangam;
T: 94.765 700 007;
A triumph of tropical minimalism, Amanwella, designed by architect Kerry Hill, is inspired by the work of the late modernist architect Geoffrey Bawa. Set on a secluded palm tree-fringed crescent-shaped bay, the property works with the natural rise of the land to include 30 sleek suites, each with their own plunge pools and private terraces that look out over the shores. The main restaurant - a sharp-lined pavilion-style building - overlooks a capacious pool, which, incidentally is also the best spot to enjoy a preprandial cocktail as the sun sets over the deserted cove. After that, head down to the Beach Club, where fresh seafood is served straight off the grill.
Bodhi Mawatha, Wella Wathura, Godellawela, Tangalle;
T: 94.472 241 333;
Perched atop a promontory with a cinematic ocean frontage speckled with stilt fishermen, Cape Weligama is a quiet bolthole that is only a 30 minute drive from the city of Galle’s famous landmarks. The Thai architect Lek Bunnag has arranged the 39 villas like a haphazard village among manicured gardens, interspersed with windblown palm trees, while Singapore studio, JPA Design has dressed the bright and airy rooms in sky blues and sunflower yellows, rattan textures and timeless timber furnishings. Though it’s difficult to spend too much time indoors, when each villa has its own shady veranda and there is a communal cliff-top infinity pool with bracing views of the Indian ocean to frolic in. An adventure-packed itinerary of activities from cycling to surfing and diving are on offer, but personally we’re staying put for the greedy grab of the hotel’s numerous F&B offerings, not least the fresh seafood cooked to order at the Ocean Terrace restaurant.
Abimanagama Road, Weligama;
T: 94.41 2 253000;
The Owl and The Pussycat
Galle With its cinematic ocean frontage, Galle’s sunny charms have been ratcheted up a few notches with The Owl and The Pussycat (OTP). Set right on the surf, the 17 clean-lined suites, which come in all shapes and sizes, are a riot of bold hues, shabby chic furnishings, and woven textures. Though its difficult to imagine spending too much time indoors, when there’s a pool that overlooks the ocean and and an outdoor restaurant that serves fresh seafood along with a killer cocktails, like the Gingered Owl- a spicy concoction made with Arrack, ginger and lime, topped with ginger beer. If being waited on hand and foot becomes tiresome, the heritage charms of Galle city is just a 15-minute tuk tuk ride away.
N.788, Matara Rd, Talpe;
T: 94.912 283 844;
Ceylon Tea Trails
Deep within these hills, set over 2,000 acres, Ceylon Tea Trails comprises five colonial-style bungalows scattered along the banks of Castlereagh Lake and down into the Bogawantalawa valley. Each named after past tea planter occupants, the cottages - which were all originally built between 1888 and 1950 - have all been sympathetically restored to provide a total of 26 plush rooms between them. Perched on a promontory, with sweeping vistas of the montane forests and the turquoise waters of the lake below, the four-bedroom Dunkeld house imbues the atmosphere of a private club, with parquet flooring, roaring log fires, claw-footed baths and cosy four-poster beds. Legs wearied after a day of outdoor activities including hikes, white water rafting or - our pick - exploring the tea plantation and factory, head back for a soak in the infinity pool and Jacuzzi with a stiff gin and tonic, made by your personal butler, before tucking into a meal cooked to your specifics by the onsite chef.
Dunkeld Bungalow, Bogawantalawa;
T: 94.11 774 5700;
Located right beside Galle Face Green seafront promenade, Shangri-La Colombo is the embodiment of modern-day Sri Lanka, not least for its home inside a gleaming 35-floor high-rise, the first to be completed in the city. The property boasts all of the Shangri-La characteristic with a soaring lobby - complete with a lotus flower chandelier - sumptuous guestrooms, which are layered in hues of oatmeal, silver and turquoise, and an array of top-notch restaurants including Kaema Sutra, a tiki-themed bar that serves up elevated Sri Lankan dishes, like the delicious spicy crab, along with a menu of killer cocktails. If you can, book a room with Horizon Club access, where breakfast, all-day snacks and sunset cocktails are served in a calming ambience against wide-spread ocean views.
1 Galle Face, Colombo 2;
T: 94. 11 788 8288;
Perfectly placed inside the walls of Galle Fort, a Unesco world heritage site, close to the neighbouring Dutch Reformed Church, Amangalla started life as the New Oriental Hotel, which for centuries, welcomed throngs of travellers from globe-traversing P&O steamers. Today, the property has been given a new lease of life by the late architect Kerry Hill, who transformed the faded grande dame into a slick retreat with a blend of nostalgic fittings and modern flourishes. Just outside, the ramparts, ancient gates, old spice warehouses and maze of streets are minutes away on foot, but make sure to come back for afternoon tea on the verandah, followed by an Ayurvedic massage and perhaps a cocktail by the pool.
10 Church St;
T: 94.912 233 388;
Kandy Designed by Thisara Thanapathy Associates, The 18-villa Santani Wellness Resort, nestled in an abandoned tea estate in the high central hills of Kandy, is both grand and intimate at the same time. Grand, by way of huge public spaces with generously proportioned hollows that, from every side, take in views of the lush green terraces and gently rolling hills, whilst also seeming to disappear into the tableau. Intimate, because of the way thin strips of metal and salvaged timber cocoon occupants within light, airy and minimalist pavilions – inspired by Kandyan architecture – that practically float above the foliage. Spread over three floors that include a cedar wood sauna and al fresco thermal salt pool, the spa also makes a lovely counterpoint to the kitchen’s wholesome menu that’s customised to the Ayurvedic dosha (or body and health condition) of each guest.
Arantenna Estate, Kandy;
T: 94. 81 222 8000;
Tri Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka’s rehabilitated reputation as a sunny holiday isle continues to strengthen with all eyes peeled on the new tourist developments at Kuchchaveli, Passikudah and Kalpitiya in the north and east of the island. For now, though, the southern coastline stretching from the old fort of Galle to the wild beauty of Tangalle and Bentota remain firm favourites. Tri, is located on the edge of the scenic Lake Koggala, a leisurely half hour drive from Galle. With just 11 suites – three of which sit in a 40m high water tower that’s set on a hillock – a treetop yoga platform and a 21-metre cantilevered pool, the green resort offers wild tropical nature, tranquillity and seclusion in spades. Somewhat unusually, Raefer Wallis of Sri Lanka and Shanghai-based A00 Architecture, has laid out the resort in a whorl that spirals the suites from the water’s edge upwards to the water tower.
T: 94. 777 485 132;
Wild Coast Tented Lodge
Perched above a rugged stretch of beach, bordering Yala National Park, Wild Coast Tented Lodge was masterminded by Nomadic Resorts, an international team of designers who innovated the 28 caterpillar-like Cocoon tents. Inside, a vintage safari theme prevails, with plush leather furnishings, slender copper fittings, teak floors, porthole windows and soft-on-your-feet rugs. There is a library, a spa and a leopard research station, while a fabulous pool snakes between the bar and the restaurant, where fresh fish and seafood is served with a Sri Lankan fare. Of course, wildlife is the main focus, where safaris are hosted by an enthusiastic team of naturalist guides.
Wild Coast Tented Lodge Palatupana, Yala;
T: 94.117 745 730;
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Melina Keays is the entertaining director of Wallpaper*. She has been part of the brand since the magazine’s launch in 1996, and is responsible for entertaining content across the print and digital platforms, and for Wallpaper’s creative agency Bespoke. A native Londoner, Melina takes inspiration from the whole spectrum of art and design – including film, literature, and fashion. Her work for the brand involves curating content, writing, and creative direction – conceiving luxury interior landscapes with a focus on food, drinks, and entertaining in all its forms
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