Six of the Best: Sri Lankan heritage stays

MANIUMPATHY, COLOMBO

One of Colombo's most stately and historic homes tucked away in one of its most well-to-do neighbourhoods, the origins of Maniupathy can be traced back five generations to a family from Jaffna, in Sri Lanka's far north. Today, this 19th century jewel operates as one of the capital's most appealing boutique hotels. The charming , if a little dark, antique-studded rooms overlook a small though gorgeous inner courtyard, garden and swimming pool. Don't miss the wonderful traditional Sri Lanka breakfasts, replete with egg and string hoppers and curries overlooking the central greenery.

 Doubles from $US258. See maniumpathy.com

THE LAST HOUSE, TANGELLE

Geoffrey Bawa, more or less the Frank Lloyd Wright of Sri Lanka, designed this, his last house before his death in 2003, rendering it a modern heritage item. In a secluded corner on Sri Lanka's southern coast, about 90 minutes by road east of Galle, it's a discreet, airy five-room boutique hotel with the villa set in gorgeous bird and squirrel-filled tropical gardens. The Last House includes its own private beach combined with stunning coastline views, though there's also a centrepiece swimming pool tucked away at the rear of the property. 

Doubles from $US180. See thelasthouse.com 

THE FORT BAZAAR, GALLE FORT

One of the latest and most stylish hotel additions to the UNESCO World Heritage Galle Fort, the 18-room Fort Bazaar is located on historic Church Street, which, as the name indicates, is home to places of worship including the historic 18th century Dutch Reformed Church. A member of a new group, Teardrop Hotels – a nod to the geographic shape of Sri Lanka – the tastefully designed and decorated Fort Bazaar was built from the near ruins of an 18th century townhouse.

 Doubles from $US176. See teardrop-hotels.com/fort-bazaar

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GALLE FACE HOTEL, COLOMBO

Since the reopening of its North Wing, following a meticulous renovation coinciding with a boom in tourism to Sri Lanka after three decades of civil war, the venerable Galle Face is positively buzzing. Even if you don't manage to stay at what is one of Asia's classic and oldest colonial-era hotels, do schedule time for a drink or meal there, preferably outdoors so you can sit back and savour the sound of the waves crashing onto the seawall that fronts it.

Doubles from $US250. See gallefacehotel.com

COCO TANGALLA, TANGALLE

A sister property of the nearby and aforementioned Last House, Coco Tangalla is an erstwhile colonial villa that's been transformed into a chic six-room black and white-painted beach house. Against the backdrop of spectacular sea views is an infinity pool set in a garden, while the four bedrooms in the main house are brightly decorated with local silks, eclectic artwork and vintage and contemporary furniture. Coco Tangalla is a good to be based for forays to Mirissa for whale and dolphin watching as well as national parks such as Yala and Udawalawe.

Doubles from $US130. See cocotangalla.com

RESIDENCE, COLOMBO

Undisturbed, to a large extent, by development during the civil war, Colombo has been left with a collection of magnificent colonial-style villas and mansions, including this grand 19th century treasure that once served as a family home. Today it's a boutique hotel with contemporary touches and rooms, set around a centrepiece swimming pool and garden, averaging 75-square metres in size. The 100-seat in-house restaurant, Rare, with its array runs nearly the full length of one side of the hotel and overlooks the pool.

Doubles from $US210. See ugaescapes.com

Anthony Dennis visited Sri Lanka as a guest of the Classic Safari Company (and the featured establishments). All of the hotels can be booked as part of a Classic Safari Company mulit-day itinerary. See classicsafaricompany.com.au

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