Claughton House offers a rare opportunity to stay in a villa designed by Sri Lanka’s most revered architect, the late Geoffrey Bawa. Situated within eight gloriously manicured palm-studded acres, the house is perched at the summit of a headland rising magnificently above the sea. As with all of Bawa’s designs, the house, built in 1985, was conceived with great attention to detail and with consideration of the environment, and it beautifully reflects his signature flair for blending indoor and outdoor areas. Richard FitzHerbert-Brockholes, the original owner, named Claughton after his ancestral Lancashire home.

In quintessential Bawa style, the living areas of the house tumble down a series of levels, artfully incorporating little nooks furnished with built-in sofas, cement cube tables and woven lounge chairs. Claughton’s interiors were refurbished in 2013 – brand new bathrooms were added and much of the furniture updated – and they complement the simplicity of the build and the handiwork of its famous creator; the locally sourced fabrics and new design-orientated furnishings inject just the right amount of contemporary flair into this minimal space. Whether you’re in bed, dining or relaxing, the open design allows you to gorge on fabulous views of Kudawella Bay and the Indian Ocean beyond.

Dotted around the garden, but in inspired locations, are tables and chairs-for-two, designed to provide both quiet seclusion and perches for absorbing the views. For yogis, a sala sits at the top of the hill. Further down the hillside is an art deco swimming pool carved into the rock and flanked by a terrace, beside which is a pavilion for living and dining; this is a magnetic space by day or night. There’s a second pool on the huge grounds whilst a rickety gate leads to the beach below, a haunt of local surfies.

The house is staffed by a helpful team, including a chef who prepares all meals at cost price.


Claughton House sits in a magnificent spot, at the summit of a headland overlooking the picturesque sweep of Kudawella Bay and the Indian Ocean. The horizon can also be seen above the opposing headland (this sight must have caught the attention of Bawa), below which is a large harbour with myriad colourful fishing boats. Claughton sits in over eight acres of palm-studded gardens and directly accesses the secluded, sandy swathe of beach via a gate at the bottom of the land. Nilwella, the closest village, has few facilities, but the town of Dickwella is just a few kilometres away.

Mawella Lagoon Airport 3 km
Dickwella town 3 km
Tangalle 10 km
Dondra Lighthouse 20 km
Mulkirigala Temple 20 km
Rekawa 25 km
Galle Fort 70 km
Yala National Park 105 km
Colombo 183 km
Bandaranaike Airport 209 km

About Dickwella

Dickwella is a bustling fishing town set on a wide bay between Matara and Tangalle. Despite a growing number of tourist hotels and villas along this picturesque stretch of coastline, famous for its secluded coves and rocky headlands, Dickwella itself still feels authentic and unspoilt. The town is home to plenty of conveniences, including a supermarket, fresh produce stalls (and a Saturday market), banks with ATMs and liquor shops, but few obvious attractions aside from the sandy beach. The region is boosting a revival in the cottage industry craft of lace-making however, and the town has a few outlets where you can see the women at work and browse or purchase their designs. Dickwella’s biggest attraction lies three kilometres out of town, at Werurukannala Temple, where sits a 50-metre-high seated Buddha, the island’s tallest. Here you can actually climb into the Buddha’s head for a little divine inspiration and wander through a series of rooms where murals and models illustrate grizzly images of life in Buddhist hell. Other attractions near Dickwella include Dondra Lighthouse, marking Sri Lanka’s southernmost tip, the Devinuwara Buddhist temple and the two Dutch Forts in Matara. Towards Tangalle are secluded bays to explore and the inland temple of Mulkirigala, perched high on a rocky outcrop with stunning panoramic views. Wining and dining is fairly limited in Dickwella (the choice is either one of the rice and curry restaurants or the Dickwella Resort), but there are more options in, and on the way to, Tangalle.

About South Coast

Stretching between Galle and Hambantota, the south coast is undoubtedly one of the most popular destinations in Sri Lanka. Characterised by historically significant fortified towns, numerous picture-perfect palm-fringed beaches, a sultry turquoise sea, swathes of iridescent green paddy fields fringed by lush green jungle, ancient Buddhist temples, expansive waterways, nature-filled rainforests and tea-carpeted hills it offers enough variety to be a destination in itself; fabulous for families, groups and couples alike.

Galle is one of the region’s most significant attractions for its sixteenth century Dutch fort filled with an evocatively rich collection of buildings, boutiques, museums and luxury digs that hug a peninsular to the south of town. Galle’s popular beaches are better-facilitated, more developed and safer for swimming than those in and around Tangalle, but the further you travel east the more expansive, deserted and nature-filled they become.

Surfing, snorkelling, diving, whale watching, sailing, fishing and kayaking can all be done along this magnificent stretch of coastline as well as cycling, walking and trying your hand at Sri Lankan cookery. Inland, the scene varies as the westerly wet zone’s lush jungle interior gives way to the arid dry zone plains a little beyond Tangalle. Taking off by bicycle is often the best way to explore the hills, plains, sanctuaries and jungle whilst a boat is a must to navigate the scenic lakes and rivers that wind in between.

Some of Sri Lanka’s most popular national parks – Uda Walawe for elephants and Yala for leopards and bears – as well as a trio of its most accessible rainforests – Sinharaja, Kottawa and Kanneliya - are easily visited on a day or overnight trip from anywhere along the south coast.

Our review   Overall Rating: 8.00

Without doubt, this is one of Sri Lanka’s most engaging villas and in one of the most breathtaking locations on the island – the views are nothing short of spectacular. Its links to Geoffrey Bawa and its interesting, yet short, history makes a stay here all the more engaging. The house itself is fairly modest – there are no fancy mod cons and the simple yet imaginative design evokes the past as much as the present – however the new owners are currently upgrading the house. The interiors have already been given a sensitive facelift, and look lovely, whilst two more bedrooms and a TV lounge are due to be completed by the end of 2014; they were renovating existing buildings for these behind the main house at the time of our visit (March 2014) but we were not disturbed by the work at all.

Our favourite place to pass the time was around the main swimming pool (there is a second pool to the side of the property, close to the driveway). This cliff-top pool complements the house – it’s been here for a few decades and we liked its old-school geometric design. The different shades of blue reflected the sea beyond and the terrace surrounding it was scattered with sun loungers and beanbags, one of which was placed on a protruding corner from where we could sit and watch surfers in the bay below. A little staircase leads down the hillside to the beach, and it’s a lovely spot for long strolls, swimming or body boarding (there’s a big collection of boards in the house) with care for much of the year – the sea is fairly shallow.

The staff really went out of their way to ensure that we had everything we needed, in particular the lovely chef who produced some heart-warming food. We recommend his rice and curry, which we enjoyed by candlelight down by the pool. Make sure you have a chat to the maintenance manager who’s worked at the house from the very beginning. He showed us some 25-year-old photos of the house.

  Overall Rating: 9.50

Claughton House is truly outstanding, the location, design, decor, ambience are amazing and we had such an enjoyable relaxed holiday thanks to the staff and the chilled out atmosphere.


Bedroom:  5
Sleeping Capacity: 10
Location:  South Coast

Bedroom 1 King
Bedroom 2 Twin
Bedroom 3 Twin
Bedroom 4 Queen
Bedroom 5 Twin


  • Chef/Cook (All meals)
  • Garden/Pool Staff
  • Housekeeping (Full time)
  • Manager
  • Security
  • Service Staff
  • Shopper

Key Amenities

  •   Internet (WiFi)

Other Amenities

  • Air-con (Bedrooms)
  • Baby Cot (On Request)
  • BBQ
  • Bed Linen
  • Car Parking
  • Ceiling Fans
  • Equipped Kitchen
  • Extra Bed (Roll away/mattress)
  • Generator
  • Hairdryers
  • High Chairs (On Request)
  • iPod Dock/Speakers
  • Laundry Service (Extra)
  • Main Dining (8 persons)
  • Oven/Hotplates
  • Safe
  • Toiletries
  • Towels
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