The best villas in Sri Lanka

For the best stay in Sri Lanka, take over one of these sprawling houses set within the most beautiful surrounds


6 November 2022

Best for: Those who want a bit of everything

A short drive in land from Galle, next door to a Buddhist temple, arriving here is like stumbling onto a Hollywood film set. It’s got an epic pool party kind of vibe – yet tucked away above a rainforest, with swinging monkeys as the only paparazzi. Built 15 years ago, the villa was snapped up three years ago by regular guests, Dutch couple Maurien and Maarten Wetselaar. Today – with no expense spared – they are injecting a new energy into the house on a big scale. More boutique hotel than villa, there’s a flurry of attentive staff and a mass of things to do.

The seven chalky-white ensuite bedrooms have Princess and the Pea-high canopy beds draped in milky chiffon drapery alongside teak furniture, brightened up by hand-woven rugs made from a local co-operative and tropical artworks. The master bedroom is the size of most London apartments – or go for a bedroom leading out onto the shady veranda, lined with planter’s chairs and cooled by the mountain breezes. There’s also a separate family annexe with a whopping playroom.

Voluptuous white sofas and stacks of inspiring coffee table books fill the living room. But you won’t stay inside for long. That saltwater infinity pool. Surrounded by pots of bright white Bougainvillea, poolside lunches stretch late into the afternoon – chef Shaluka spent 10 years working as a private chef in London and his Ottolenghi-style food (ask for the beetroot and feta salad) is a cut above. Walk it off with a wander to the paddy fields, a workout in the gym or dash around on the tennis court. There’s also a spa in the garden cottage plus a lovely terrace for yoga. Happiness is Maurien’s goal for villa guests and, here, it’s hard not to be.