Sri Lanka will always have a special place in my heart – it’s just one of those places that gets under your skin and fills you with warmth and an urge to return.There is so much to do and see; such a variety of landscapes, the most welcoming people, great food and if like me, you love boutique hotels – it’s pure heaven!
I last visited 12 years ago, so was rather apprehensive to see how it had changed. Thankfully I wasn’t disappointed.
My last trip involved going North of Colombo to Negombo, Kandy, Dambulla, Sigirya and Adams Peak (all of which I’d highly recommend). As this was only a short trip we decided to go South of Colombo to Bentota for a bit of beach, Galle for city life and just South of Galle for some time amongst the tea plantations and wildlife, then back to Colombo.
The first place we stayed was the magnificent Paradise Road, Villa Bentota. We arrived in the evening and were just gobsmacked by the beauty of the place; from the polished concrete floor (yes, I’m obsessed with concrete) of reception, to the subtle lighting and stunning artwork. We were so excited to see the hotel in daylight we barely slept!
The buildings were renovated in the 1970s by architect Geoffrey Bawa & the new owners have done a magnificent job of maintaining his work and highlighting it to full effect with beautiful lighting and stunning interiors. No surprise then that the chairman of Paradise Road is a famous Sri Lankan designer – Udayshanth Fernando.
I love the way the simple lines of the buildings are complemented with simple black and white interiors, stripes and bright canvases from local artists. It is like staying in your most stylish friend’s beach house/art gallery.
The hotel has 15 rooms so you need to book early. We had room four which has a beautiful bedroom and outdoor shower room with doors leading out to the garden.
Like the rest of the hotel, the garden is beautifully maintained and there is a sleek pool for when you need to cool off from the humidity…
…plus lots of places to read a good book…
…or have a wander.
This is Bentota – so take a stroll across the railway tracks to the beach.
As with quite a few hotels in Bentota, the railway tracks are in close proximity to the hotel and beach – we just viewed it as part of the scenery. It would be a shame to miss out on all this beauty and great food…
The food here is fantastic. Being gluten-free is surprisingly easy in Sri Lanka. Be sure to pre-order a Sri Lankan breakfast the night before in most hotels. Sample the lovely fruits including the wonderful King Coconut and if you are lucky enough to stay at this beautiful hotel and you like ginger – order their homemade ginger ale and black pork curry.
Since returning to the UK I have learnt that Paradise Road has a gallery/restaurant in Colombo housed in another Bawa building. The restaurant is particularly known for it’s dessert menu and its focus on chocolate! I mean – chocolate, art, architecture and design all under one roof? Sounds like a dream come true! They also have another boutique hotel in Colombo called Tintagel.
We really had an amazing stay at this hotel and I would recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone but particularly to any art and design lovers out there. Stay tuned for further Sri Lankan gems coming up on the blog soon!