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.
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.
Lush palm-shaded lawns topped with loungers soaking up the serenity of sun and sea stretch generously in front of this five-bedroom beach pad that feels spacious even when full. There’s a swimming pool and loads of living space whilst Olanda’s staff of four graciously tend to your needs.
Pitched on a leafy hill in tranquil Heenatigala, this fully staffed 4-bedroom villa with secluded swimming pool and private chef is within an easy drive of Talpe’s picturesque south coast beaches and Galle. Prettily wrapped by a lush garden with superb valley views, this recently renovated house is particularly family-friendly.
This exclusive, elegant and exceptionally located cliff-top villa boasts the most panoramic ocean vistas of any in Sri Lanka. Fully-staffed, 5-bedroomed Pointe Sud bursts with character whilst the tropical 5-acre garden, set above a deserted stretch of beach, features a stunning infinity pool, sunset-view pavilions, lookouts and manicured lawns.
A charming homely 4-bedroomed converted planter’s bungalow with stunning views overlooking the wooded hills and tea plantations above Kandy complete with private swimming pool and a full complement of staff. Perfect for those who enjoy walking, nature, the great outdoors or simply relaxing.
An elegant 4-bedroom beach villa, with a near-symmetrical design, which works well for two families holidaying together. The ocean views are shared from every room, living and dining space abounds – both inside the house and out in the garden – and there’s a pool, TV snug and enthusiastic staff team.
Beautifully serene hillside manor house with spectacular jungle views just a five minute drive inland from Unawatuna. With 4 bedrooms, glorious swimming pool, massage and yoga pavilions, a luxe of living space and terraced rambling gardens Satori is a heavenly escape from the stresses and strains of everyday life.
A chicly renovated historic manor house set in five acres of grounds a few minutes’ walk from Mirissa harbour (for seasonal whale- and dolphin-watching cruises) and a popular palm-fringed beach. Fully staffed, 4-bedroomed Siri Wedamadura has a fabulous swimming pool, alfresco living and dining areas and a well-equipped kitchen.
This idyllic 2-bedroom beach pad near Galle sits before an impressively wide strip of south coast sand. Featuring a huge ground floor living space bedecked with loungers, which spills onto a deep dining veranda and beyond, to an azure pool, there’s also a west-facing pavilion topping the lush green lawn.
Boasting absolute beachfront on a delicious slice of sand south of Ambalangoda, Six Degrees North is a chilled tropical retreat for a family or group of friends. Homely, relaxed and fully staffed, this 5-bedroom property with palm-peppered garden, pool and garden pavilion also offers a variety of Ayurvedic treatments.
Standing on an idyllic sandy swathe of beachfront near Galle, the fabulous 4-bedroom Skye House is blessed with a lovely pool, tropical gardens and a full complement of staff. An additional kids’ bunk room (sleeping 6), plus a dedicated playground and plentiful toys make this house exceptional for 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.
Sri Villas, a fully-staffed trio of boutique seaside properties, share a tropical garden, a large swimming pool and direct beach access. Sleeping 18 in total, these villas are perfect for large groups and for entertaining. Each is fully self-contained with its own living areas, dining space and kitchen.
The largest of Sri Villas’ trio of contemporary beachside holiday homes that share a big, sunset-view swimming pool and tropical garden, 4-bedroomed Araliya is fully-staffed and great for one or two families. If booked in conjunction with its two neighbouring villas it’s also an excellent choice for extended groups.
Nisala shares a big pool and beachfront garden plus spectacular sunset views with its sister Sri Villa properties. Fully-staffed, it has expansive living and dining space plus two serene sea-view suites. A great family holiday home or, if all three villas are booked together, an excellent choice for extended groups.
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.
From its private hilltop perch in the southwest Hill Country, 100-year-old Strathdon Bungalow gazes through stands of giant bamboo across spectacular tea-clad mountains and verdant valleys. Home to 4 bedrooms and a lovely ‘breakfast terrace’, this family house comes with a small staff team including cook and non-resident manager.
Villa Sulanga is one of two Talaramba Reef Villas on the beachfront near sultry Mirissa Bay. The 4 bedrooms are equally sized and sea-view verandas are furnished for living and dining. The villa is fully staffed and has a huge pool, spacious living room and enormous (but shared) garden.
Villa Vatura is one of two Talaramba Reef Villas on the beachfront near sultry Mirissa Bay. The 4 bedrooms are equally sized and sea-view verandas are furnished for living and dining. The villa is fully staffed and has a huge private pool, spacious living room and an enormous (but shared) garden.
An enchanting private island escape set just 150m off the coast of Weligama, 30 minutes from Galle. Hopelessly romantic and wonderfully private, this five bedroom 1920s mansion is set amidst two and a half acres of lush tropical gardens with infinity pool and breathtaking spots to appreciate the panoramic views.
Beautiful Bawa-enhanced former artist-owned beach house set in a tropical garden near to Tangalle, ideal for families, couples or groups. With 5 intimate rooms, a large swimming pool and direct ocean views this chic beach retreat is pleasantly secluded although conveniently enough located to visit Tangalle’s main attractions.
A striking eighteenth century Dutch colonial mansion that stands in glorious landscaped gardens overlooking, but hidden from, the town of Galle. Offering quiet seclusion close to all major attractions including Galle Fort and the beaches, it features 4 luxurious suites, exquisite art and antiques and a wonderful ‘treetop’ swimming pool.
Glorious nineteenth century tea planter’s bungalow in the Hill Country, exquisitely restored to combine yesteryear’s charms with today’s comforts. Fully staffed and featuring five luxurious bedrooms, inviting living areas, a stone-pillared verandah and a beautiful garden with stunningly situated infinity pool, this superb holiday home has enormous appeal.
The Old Lady at the Sea is a great value, fully staffed property set in lawned gardens, and is ideal for extended families and big groups. Nine ensuite bedrooms, equipped with TVs and DVD players, sit either side of the sea-view swimming pool at this renovated 300-year-old Dutch house.
An elevated 2-bedroom house overlooking a lush tropical garden boasting uninterrupted views across tranquil paddy fields. Only five minutes from the beach, The Petalsis a perfectly peaceful base for couples or a small family looking to explore the Galle region; best of all, it comes with an excellent cook.
A charming 2-bedroom wooden house set on a hillside overlooking the ocean, only two minutes’ walk from the beach. With a 12m swimming pool and a large palm grove garden full of tropical flowers and birds, Teak House is an enchanting retreat for families, couples, artists and nature lovers.
The blissful natural setting of this hillside holiday home is the leading ingredient in its authentic recipe for rest and relaxation. Generously blended with comfortable rooms, home-cooked meals, a mountainside plunge pool and six-acres of nature-filled garden to explore, the eco-friendly Weir House is a beautiful retreat from the world.
Gorgeous 5-bedroom private beach villa with spacious palm-shaded garden, inviting swimming pool and sweeping sea views that’s only eight kilometres from Galle. Victoria’s restful character, experienced staff team and useful location close to many attractions and facilities make it an excellent holiday home for families, groups and couples alike.
Close to Weligama’s famed surf breaks and Mirissa’s pretty bay, Kumara Villa is home to 3 luxurious bedroom suites with private walled gardens, a spacious living/dining pavilion and a sun-dappled terrace and infinity pool set in acres of tropical landscaping. The villa’s friendly staff team includes a manager and a cook.
This 5-bedroom riverside villa in the west coast water sports resort of Bentota celebrates cultural revolutionaries in both name and décor. Furnished with striking oriental pieces set within elegant open-plan living areas, this staffed family friendly villa with swimming pool, garden and private jetty is five minutes from the beach.
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.
Set on a pretty stretch of coastline near Weligama, Villa Suriyawatta is a convivial 5-bedroom oasis with graceful living areas, sweeping sea views and a gorgeous garden and pool. It’s well equipped for kids, has a Sonos sound system wired to the pool area and an excellent staff team.
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.