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 grand 4-bedroom fully staffed villa sits in extensive gardens and offers true escapism beside a blissfully isolated beach visited by turtles. Ideal for families, groups and nature lovers, the house is spacious and has a big, fenced T-shaped pool. There are plenty of exciting national parks to visit nearby.
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.
Comprising just two bedrooms, a living–dining area and kitchen (complete with great cook); this idyllic beach pad near Tangalle is without pretensions. Revelling in its sensational seaside situation, contemporary Kurumba’s emerald lawn is scattered with comfortable recliners, a hammock and a deeply cushioned ambalama just footsteps from the beach.
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.
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 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 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.