Though the country is attracting more and more travellers seeking something a bit outside the norm, Sri Lanka still maintains the wild exotic charm of a hidden travel gem. Unlike a tried and tested tourist hang, Sri Lanka allows you to discover new and unexpected beauty on a daily basis. These villas offer an inspiring stay in lush Sri Lanka, guaranteed to satisfy even the most jaded design snobs.
Ishq Villa – Boutique Stay on the Galle Riviera
Ishq Villa takes its name from the Persian word for love and really, it’s near impossible not to fall head over heels for this luminous white stunner. Built right along the beach, Ishq Villa has the look and feel of a stylish boutique hotel, but offers the privacy and space of a private holiday villa.
Built in the 1990s as one of the first luxury villas on the island, Ishq Villa has a rich backstory which makes the beautiful design feel all the more special. The villa was designed by acclaimed Australian architect Bruce Fell-Smith who spent years living in Sri Lanka and also contributed to building low cost housing for local villagers in Talpe following the 2004 Tsunami.
Ishq Villa’s grand columns give a nod to Sri Lanka’s colonial past, while the white tones and aquatic colour scheme tie together with the villa’s ocean front location. Though the villa might be one of the original grand dames on the “Galle Riviera,” Ishq Villa’s beautifully curated interiors keep the property firmly rooted in the present day.
Ishq Villa’s great design is not just about good looks – the villa also excels in its culinary offerings. The villa is staffed with a personal chef, with a culinary focus on seasonal local produce. While you would do very well just to enjoy the chef’s east-meets-west cuisine, you can also take part in the cooking classes offered by the villa. Nothing trendier than these kinds of bespoke, tailored experiences which allow you to immerse yourself in the local culture.
Skinny Beach House – Laid Back Chic by the Surf in Sri Lanka
Is there anything more stylish than a designer villa set right on the beach? We think not! The cleverly named and equally innovatively designed Skinny Beach House is built on a narrow plot of land (hence the name) with direct access to Dalawella Beach. And by direct, we mean direct – when you’re having your breakfast out on the balcony, the ocean feels close enough to touch.
The villa’s name isn’t just a clever reflection of the property’s narrow width – it also describes the look and feel of this dreamy villa to a T. With its calm colour palette and breezy loft-style layout, Skinny Beach House captures that certain laid back chic you’d expect from a beach house. The setting is also ideal for trendy surfers, with the breaks waiting literally on your doorstep.
And then there are the small thoughtful touches which make all the difference: the chic little kitchen includes a Nespresso coffee machine, while the whole villa comes sans TV (expect if you specifically request for one) – the perfect excuse to ditch the screen and simply live in the moment.
Meda Gedara – Of Fine Antiques and Water Slides
Meda Gedara is a labour of love, created after years of careful planning, with an incredible attention to detail visible in every nook and cranny of this unique tropical retreat. Offering a gorgeous blend of modern furnishings and neo colonial architecture, Meda Gedara is shrouded by lush jungle and offers direct access to a near deserted beach.
We love the juxtaposition that Meda Gedara offers. On the outside, the villa appears a grand old dame of a villa – think arched doorways, tiled roofs and shaded verandas furnished with actual rocking chairs. On the inside, Meda Gedara offers a crisp blend of curated antiques and modern furniture that’s worthy of a magazine photoshoot. The villa also includes beautiful tiled floors simply begging for a few #ihavethisthingwithfloors Instagram snaps.
Of course, one of the biggest travel trends around is family travel and for that, Meda Gedara is perfect. With seven bedrooms, the villa offers more than enough room for you and the whole extended brood. A villa is always a great option for families with access to a full kitchen (Meda Gedara also comes with a chef) and private gardens to play around in – but the real draw at Meda Gedara is the 22-metre waterslide which lands you straight into the villa’s lagoon shaped swimming pool. We dare any grownups to resist.
Walatta House – Eco Friendly Designer Gem
Walatta House brings together environmental values and cutting edge design in an enviable beachfront position. Perfectly blending in with the surrounding jungle, Walatta House offers an incredibly stylish stay right by the beach.
Designed by British architect John Bulcock, Walatta House was built around the ideals of space, sustainability and nature. Though constructed mostly using locally sourced concrete and brick – elements usually associated with urban environments – Walatta House feels like an organic extension of the tropical landscape and viewed from above, the building and surrounding landscape seem to blend together seamlessly.
Beyond the eco-friendly values, Walatta House charms simply with its aesthetically pleasing décor. The exposed brick walls and expertly curated, beautifully streamlined furniture might leave your mind wandering to an edgy Brooklyn loft – but the private swimming pool shaded by sky-high palm trees will bring you back to tropical reality.
Ambassador’s House – Historic Charm in Galle Fort
If you didn’t stay in a grand colonial villa, did you really even go to Sri Lanka? Tucked inside the UNESCO protected Galle Fort, Ambassador’s House offers an authentic taste of a time gone by, finished off with a fresh modern polish and gracious five-star hospitality.
The villa takes its name from its previous residents: once upon a time, Ambassador’s House used to host the Sri Lankan ambassador to Pakistan, Iraq and Bangladesh. Today, this is one of the largest and most beautifully preserved villas in Galle Fort which in turn dates back to 1588.
Despite its grand historic appearance, Ambassador’s House has been fitted with all the mod cons you’ll need. The private swimming pool offers fresh respite from the sun and come nightfall, mood lighting creates a stylish setting for poolside cocktails. The villa is also well suited for families, with everything from high chairs to baby cots and stair gates included in the rates.