Just before the Christmas break we suspended disbelief (and work) by entertaining the curiously enjoyable/unenjoyable task of picking our top ten winter sun destinations from the carefully curated portfolio of hotels on offer from i-escape. Through barely gritted teeth, we selected a range of properties from eco-lodges suspended off the edge of Gutemalan cliffs, to Rajasthani forts. Firmly bedded in the selection was Sri Lanka. In whatever guise, the ‘Teardrop of India’ had been a fixed target on our global dartboard for as long as we could remember. After mapping out the various circuitous routes on offer, we finalised a path with i-escape that traversed the fringes of Colombo to the beaches near Tangalle, the walled forts of Galle to the dewy calm of Koggala Lake. Richly idiosyncratic and varied, the pictures below chart a trip that will be near impossible to forget.
First up was The Wallawwa, located just outside Colombo. After a zombifying (delayed) 10 hour flight, the Wallawwa was a very welcome oasis of calm, deep green lushness and tranquility. With firm nods to sustainability, pineapple’s sprouted in the Wallawwa’s smallholding and the hotel hummed along with a understated, polished confidence. Most importantly, the Sri Lankan curries vied for the title of the very best of our trip. No mean feat.
From Colombo, we journeyed South to the coast near Tangalle. The destination was the notorious Amanwella. Notorious because more so than almost any other hotel grouping, Amans retain a fiercely loyal and devoted group of patrons. We’d heard Amanwella described by some as marmite. Calculated, clinical and stark in its facade and dressing. From a trip that delivered warmth, history and - to an extent a certain nostalgia - at various later instances, Amanwella was a wonderful counterpoint. Modern, linear, vast and fiercely contemporary, Amanwella is an unforgettable hotel. 37 acres of coconut grove set along a private 800m crescent beach is a remarkably assured juxtaposition. It's difficult not to marvel at renowned Sri Lankan architect’s almost zen-like modern symmetry and the natural beauty of the Sri Lankan coastline. The pictures shouldn't have to work to hard to demonstrate just how restful Amanwella is. For the guilty among you, there are of course a range of nearby activities, including the Mulgirigala Rock Temple; 210 metres high and quite spectacular. In short, we could wax lyrical about Amanwella for far longer than the typical attention span of an internet reader allows, but we won’t. Just look at the photos and draw your own conclusions.
The Sun House From arch modernity to, well, the opposite. From Tangalle we made tracks to The Sun House and Galle. Built in the 1860’s by a Scots spice merchant, The Sun House feels rooted firmly in history. White porticoed and dripping with understated colonial luxury, the hotel can lay claim to having “one of the most beautiful hotel rooms in the world”, the Cinnamon Suite, complete with balcony and private sitting room. The breakfasts were the best of the trip (get the chilli baked eggs) and Dick’s Bar felt filled with a hazy romance of a bygone era. In a good way…
Stay tuned for part three of our Sri Lanka photo diary, coming next week. Our special thanks to i-Escape for all their help in coordinating our stays.
All images © James Wright