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.
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.
If you’re looking for a big house for an extended family getaway or group occasion then eight-bedroom Why House is perfect. Set in two acres of tropical gardens with a stunning swimming pool, Why boasts a full staff team and a beautifully tranquil inland location just five minutes from Galle’s beaches.