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 un-spoilt 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.
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.
One of the oldest homes in historic Galle Fort, 32 Middle Street is a highly secluded house where careful renovations have exposed original timber ceilings and provided for three spacious bedrooms, a contemporary open plan living/dining area filled with art and antiques and a pretty courtyard garden with swimming pool.
A 300-year-old boutique house in Galle Fort with 3 bedrooms, a swimming pool, lots of living space and a large palm-shaded garden. Both convivial and seductive, 41 Lighthouse Street is as ideal for small groups and families as it is for couples seeking seclusion amongst the main attractions of Galle.
This 2-bedroom (plus kids’ bunk room), self-catering, historic colonial house in Galle Fort, staffed by a daytime maid, is just 30 metres from a swimming beach and the fort’s slender white British-built lighthouse. An upper-floor master bedroom attached to an ocean-view roof terrace makes the house particularly attractive for couples.
Set on the banks of the shimmering Bentota River, Apsara is a beautifully finished 3-bedroom villa just five-minutes from the beach. An excellent staff team plus top chef attend to all your needs so you can relax by the pool, savour the aquatic views and enjoy the villa’s luxurious facilities.
One-of-a-kind Geoffrey Bawa-designed 5-bedroom hillside house, dating back to 1984 and set in eight landscaped acres near Dickwella with fantastic panoramas over Kudawella Bay. Each bedroom has a sea view and there are two swimming pools, a dedicated staff team and direct access to a lengthy palm-fringed beach.
Heavenly Hideaway is an enchanting manor house encircled by lush coconut and pineapple plantations that characterise the beautifully serene landscape of rural Gampaha. There are 3 gorgeous bedrooms, private jacuzzis, a cool bar, a TV with huge DVD selection, a generous swimming pool and a wonderfully pampering seven-strong staff team.
Sited on the verdant banks of the picturesque Koggala Lake, just five minutes from the beach, Mandalay is a gorgeous 3-bedroomed staffed property that’s fabulous for families but equally terrific for two. Its large swimming pool is a treat and its glorious lakeside situation is tranquil and sure to inspire.
Peaceful, comfortable and secluded, this charming early twentieth century, fully restored bungalow is set in wooded gardens on the edge of a cinnamon plantation close to the scenic bays of Mirissa and Weligama. The 3-bedroom Bungalow at Mirissa Hills is fully serviced and ideal for families, writers and long stays.
No. 39 Galle Fort is a three-bedroom heritage house located right in the heart of Galle’s 17th century Dutch-built fort, close to major landmarks, restaurants and shops. Grand and spacious, yet equipped with every home comfort, this atmospheric heritage home is staffed, and ideal for groups of friends and families.
Elegant, fully staffed 3-bedroom seaside villa on small private headland in Kathaluwa, footsteps from a gorgeous reef-protected swimming beach. With a selection of living and dining areas both inside and out, plus swimming pool amidst a grassy garden, South Point Villa works well for families and groups as well as couples.
Out of Sri Villas’ trio of contemporary beachside holiday homes that share a large pool, tropical garden and spectacular sunset views, fully-staffed Sagara is the most suitable for couples and friends. If booked in conjunction with the other two villas it is also an excellent choice for larger groups.
Set on the fringe of Habaraduwa facing a sultry stretch of sand, Saldana is a tropical, 3-bedroomed, staffed villa with swimming pool that’s perfect for a family or a small group of friends. There’s a spacious central living room with TV lounge and a great kitchen that’s well-equipped for cooks.
Just south of Galle, Villa Tusk is a private getaway offering simple beachside living. Blending serenity with the convenience of having lots to see and do nearby, Villa Tusk is fully staffed and features four bedrooms and a palm-shaded ocean-facing lawn, plus plenty of relaxing spots both inside and out.
The 3-bedroomed Walatta House is a fabulous choice for groups. Perched on a palm-studded hillside with 180-degree sea views, this engaging eco-chic property has an air-con TV snug, an open-plan living/dining area, an inviting 20-metre lap pool and extensive gardens that tumble down the hillside to a secluded beach.
From the long front veranda of this charming 3-bedroom hillside house near Dickwella, views unfold across a tumbling garden, home to a swimming pool and sunset pavilion, towards the Indian Ocean beyond. Ideal for groups, Wetakeiya is staffed and well-endowed with lounges, including a TV snug.
A modern, 3-bedroom holiday home in a picturesque lakeside setting yet close to lively Hikkaduwa. With a simple – though striking – design, The White House at Bird Lake has cosy living and dining areas, a large swimming pool, modern conveniences and a fully equipped kitchen ideal for self-catering families, groups and couples.