Now that multiple Indian cities are introducing direct flights to Sri Lanka, there is no excuse to escape a long weekend getaway with the folks. What to book into? Here are our favourite hotels.
With boulders in the lobby and ivy cladding the balconies, Heritance Kandalama is Geoffrey Bawa’s paean to living it up in the refined world of Sri Lankan avant garde. His architectural majesty weaves through in towering sculpture, wrought-iron furniture, and airy cement-floor spaces. With wraparound views over the hill-hemmed Kandalama reservoir, some from infinity pools, this hotel is all about taking into stride Macaque monkeys running through the lobby on your way to a sumptuous breakfast. Their Sri Lankan preparations and smoked meats truly stand out. The Six Senses spa is divine.
At Vil Uyana’s boutique thatched-roof villa retreat, you might forget you were in Sri Lanka. Its wooden floors, open-air sala-style library, neon-green paddy fields, and lotus ponds make you think of Vietnam. Its barefoot attendants in sarongs offer king coconut water, and the cement-floor rooms are covered in the popping colours of local Lankan loomhouses. Thirty villas have been built in a clearing that has been cultivated into a man-made nature reserve. Adorable and endangered Loris primates have made this retreat their habitat. The hotel even offers nightly walks to see the creatures.
Formerly the home of a prime ministerial family, the Tintagel is a result of exquisite old-world- meets-new design alchemy. Signature black-and-white striped furnishings run through the property amid Doric columns and outsize vases on raw cement plinths. Shanth Fernando’s curation of objets d’art with sculpture, wood, marble and brass has established this address as one of the most sought after in Colombo. The hotel of 10 suites offers most mod cons, a petite library of leather-bound books, a private courtyard, and pool. In a world of increasingly prosaic luxury hotel offerings, the Tintagel’s singularity may be considered a blow to the ubiquitous.
Cape Weligama is a mix of lavish Mediterranean villas with cliff-top vistas into clear aquamarine ocean. With almost every luxury accounted for here, each room comes with its steam room, baths, and spa beds. The order of play is yoga in the ocean air, plunge pools for cooling off, and cocktails at sunset. Their all-inclusive rates mean you don’t sign any bills. Views of the big blue from the restaurant and bar are spellbinding.