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.
The expansive living and dining areas of this evocative 5-bedroom family-friendly villa in the heart of Galle Fort offer plenty of potential for entertaining. Spread between two expansive buildings fringed by courtyard gardens, this fully staffed villa features a lap pool, expansive roof terrace and plenty of kids’ facilities.
This 5-bedroomed colonial-style hilltop villa near Koggala is enveloped by an expansive tropical garden and is a paradise for exotic wildlife and birds. The villa, which has a blissful 10m swimming pool, is fully staffed and incredibly private, and beaches are only a ten-minute drive away.
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.
Escape to a cooler climate and relish the tranquillity of days gone by at 5-bedroom Craig Appin Bungalow near Hatton in the southwest Hill Country. Encircled by a pretty garden, the bungalow is fully staffed and features a living room, a TV Lounge, a dining room and a furnished veranda.
Ideal for family holidays, Galle Henna Estate is a beautifully renovated 5-bedroomed manor house set within spacious grounds overlooking acres of vivid green paddy fields, five minutes from the beach. There’s a swimming pool in the wildlife-filled garden and the elegant interior design of the house makes it feel like home.
Sited on the most desirable section of beach in Talpe, IF is a gorgeous Dutch-colonial-style villa with verdant garden, spacious sundeck, panoramic ocean views, private swimming pool and spacious dining pavilion. The property comes staffed with a cook and is perfectly set up for families and groups of friends.
Oceanfront Indisch is superbly located on a picturesque curve of sandy coastline south east of Galle and features a large swimming pool and an expansive lawned garden with kid’s playground. Ideal for families and groups, this hugely spacious villa comes with an exceptional staff team, and is very private and secure.
Kadju House is a contemporary 4-bedroom villa enhanced by tropical scenery, abundant wildlife and a fabulous location minutes away from beautiful, deserted beaches. With a minimalist design that frames the spectacular sea views, this fully-serviced beach pad with pool and spa offers blissful serenity for couples, groups and nature lovers.
Wide access onto an almost deserted sandy beach near Ambalangoda coupled with a large palm-shaded garden are highlights of 5-bedroom Max Wadiya. Relaxing, spacious, comfortable and full of colonial antiques, this villa is ideal for extended families, two individual families or groups of friends. Rates include all meals.
This contemporary-styled but century-old manor house inland from Tangalle is the perfect tonic for anyone needing R&R. With 5 bedrooms, a 20m pool, an excellent chef and a two-acre garden that spills onto the facing rice fields, fully staffed Maya is a serene and beautiful place to relax and unwind.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.