BOUTIQUE BEACH VILLA | 4 DELUXE ROOMS | 1 GARDEN COTTAGE
“The best beach house on earth” UK Tatler April 2006
The Beach House is a beautiful Dutch colonial bungalow situated among coconut palms on its own stretch of white beach near Tangalle, on the south coast of Sri Lanka. This is the most idyllic beach villa offering its guests a relaxed and tranquil holiday away from the mass tourism and the unavoidable buffet. The Beach House was once the tropical retreat of American artist Douglas Johnson who lovingly restored the bungalow with the help of Geoffrey Bawa, Sri Lanka’s most renowned architect.
Although not looking like much from the exterior, the villa comes alive within with heavy wooden colonial furniture, sweeping verandahs so typical of Sri Lanka’s old Dutch villas and cushions in muted greys, blues and creams. Artistic details – shell mosaic mirrors, Johnson’s collection of pictures and collages, and quirky ornaments – make it homely and stylish.
Nominated as one of the Top Twenty Villas in the world by CondeNaste Traveller, the Beach House attracts its fair share of celebrity holidaymakers, but it’s still well within the reach of those serious about spoiling themselves. Perfect for spending days lazing by the beach and if you get itchy feet, trips to see temples, wildlife and historical towns will be all arranged for you.
The Beach House has been upgraded to meet the needs of the most demanding modern beachcombers. Five en-suite bedrooms, many with outdoor bathrooms offer dreamy nights for guests, while a full time staff of four provide discreetly for your every need.
“This is a shining example of barefoot luxury.” – UK Tatler
The house sleeps 9 in its 4 doubles in the main house and 1 single in a separate cottage. Rooms are a wonderful mixture of cool tiled floors, white beamed ceilings and comfortable four poster beds with mosquito nets and large windows with security grilles. There’s no air conditioning but ceiling fans and the sea breeze guaranteed keep you cool. All rooms have ensuite bathrooms, which have just been completely modernised. As you have direct access to the beach, you can wander from your bedroom down to the waves before your first fruit juice of the day.
There are plenty of places to relax – a colonial-style sitting room inside and a large colonnaded verandah around two sides of the house. Since its restoration in 1992, the colour scheme has turned from eclectic to mainly blues and whites, reflecting its beach surrounds. Apparently, Douglas Johnson was so particular about which colours he wanted the walls painted that his house-painters lost their tempers more than once!
The house is fully staffed with a cook, shopper and maid, so you won’t have to do a thing, except look after yourself. As with many of the most exclusive resorts in Sri Lanka, meals are as simple or elaborate as you wish.
Guests are advised to have a chat with the resident chef when arriving at the Beach House and inform him of your preferences, likes or dislikes. Thereafter prepare to be surprised. A range of spicy local curries and traditional Western treats are served on the dining terrace amid lighted coconut palms and the sound of the ocean.
Alternatively, speak to the cook every morning about your requirements for the day. He is also great with BBQs, beach dinners and lunches for day trips. Guests pay the staff directly for the ingredients on a daily basis. The staff will then do all the shopping and cooking, the cost of which is included in the rental price.
If you do decide to try the local restaurants, Chanika’s, near the Tangalle Bay hotel is reputed for its fabulous and reasonably-priced lobster. Tangalle is a fishing port so seafood is generally fresh and good.
Sun yourself all day, cool off in the pool or the ocean, read a pile of books while lazing around doing nothing but taking in the opulent nature of your surroundings
Visit the nearby blowhole, which is most active in June during the monsoon season and is the second largest natural blowhole in the world
Take a day trip on one of the local boats organised for you by staff, complete with a delicious pack-lunch if you require it.
Go snorkelling at the nearby bay. Between November and March, scuba diving can be arranged at the local PADI dive centre at a nearby hotel, Lets Dive, is run by German PADI instructors.
Tangalle is famous for its turtles – you can see them swimming offshore in some of the nearby bays. Check out the turtle conservation project at Rekawa, a small fishing village 10km away.
Visit the ancient rock temple at Mulkirigala, a stunning 25km ride away past lotus ponds, paddy fields and local villages. Wewurukannala Temple is also close by with its giant 165ft high Buddha statue.
If wildlife is more your interest, visit the Uda Welawe National Park the best Elephant park in the country or nearby Yala National Park is world famous, boasting the highest density of Leopards in the wild anywhere in the world. (60km north east)
Features: Annabel Heseltine spent her honeymoon at the Beach House. Distinguished visitors visit from all over the world to stay in this exclusive retreat. Ideal for a group of friends, families or honeymooners.
Children: Children under 14 years are not allowed as the Beach House is filled with precious antiques.
Best time: December to April for the best weather and beaches, May to November for the cheaper prices.
How long: How long can you afford? Two weeks here would see you emerge as a more relaxed and peaceful person – however, finding anywhere to live up to this extraordinary holiday home in the future, might prove tricky!
What to take: A pile of good books, swimwear, shades, cool casual clothing and mosquito repellent for the evenings.
Products and Services: 4 double bed rooms (one bedroom is housed in its own garden cottage), All bedrooms have ensuite bathrooms, An enclosed sitting room leads onto the front terrace with blissfully comfortable lounging seats looking out across the Indian Ocean, Swimming Pool (shaded by palm trees this large pool remains invitingly cool all day), Dining area (a table is set on the veranda), Kitchen / Staff (a fully equipped kitchen and a full time staff of 4 will ensure you are pampered and left to drift from dreamy day to dreamy day)
Check-in/Check-out Time Normal Check-in is 12.00 noon and Check-Out is 11.00 a.m. Earlier Check-in or later Check-out time can be requested on a case by case basis and the hotel may agree depending on availability.
Address: Tangalle, Sri Lanka
Airport: Colombo International – 210km