Sri Lanka has many magnificent beaches and some fabulous boutique hotels, however, these rarely go together since the few boutique “beach” hotels aren’t actually right on the beach, but rather a short walk away or in a raised area overlooking the sea. An exception to this is the Reef Villa & Spa, an exquisite luxury boutique hotel nestled within lush tropical forest on an authentic fishermen’s beach on the west coast of Sri Lanka. Meticulously created by an architect-interior designer couple, the seven-suite hotel exudes old world charm and excels at relaxed luxury and romance. Read on to discover one of the finest boutique hotels in Sri Lanka and the country’s best luxury boutique hotel.
A Secret Beach Oasis
Sri Lanka is blessed with some exceptional beaches and, fortunately, since tourism is newer to the country, there are still many unspoilt beaches. Wadduwa beach is one of these. Located around 50 kilometers south of Colombo on the west coast of the country, Wadduwa has the benefit of being around an hour’s drive from the international airport via the new express highway. This means you can get to the Reef easily and don’t even need to stay near the airport the night before your departure. Once you arrive at Wadduwa Beach, you’ll find kilometers of golden sand bordered by only few hotels which are set back from the beach. Instead of noisy beach bars and restaurants, here you have the occasional fisherman preparing his nets alongside his traditional wooden fishing boat. Steps from the sand, beyond a beautiful manicured lawn and surrounded by tropical vegetation and palm trees, is the Reef.
The Vision of an Architect and an Interior Designer
The unique boutique hotel was created by an English-Irish couple, architect Bernadette Barker and and interior designer Brendan O’Donnell, a project which they began in 2003. You can see Bernadette’s skills on the chic main building, the Plantation House, whose soaring ceilings, large windows and curved staircase provide a bright, airy and stylish feel. Here is where you will first encounter the hotel’s alluring decor, a stylish mix of antiques, art and curiosities carefully collected and arranged by Brendan. Many items were found in India including original “Campaign” antique pieces and beautifully crafted items used by members of the East India Company. The Plantation House has cozy sitting areas for guests to relax, a long dining table for special events and the villa’s spa.
Luxurious & Gorgeous Suites
The Reef’s seven suites are spacious and luxurious, while also being intimate. Two of these are found in the Plantation House and four are ocean suites and the Lily Pond Suite, where we stayed, is tucked away from the others, hidden behind a wall and vegetation. The suite has a small garden with a table and chairs (where you can have private romantic dinners). You access the suite pavilion via stepping stones over a small waterlily pond and its resident tropical fish. You’ve then reached a small shaded veranda with a whimsical antique swing chair and some outdoor furniture. The romantic ambiance flows inside where you’ll find a vast room with cathedral ceilings lined with traditional terracotta tiles from Kerala, India. The room features an enchanting four-poster canopied bed, built for the British Raj and their families in the mid 1800s and am ample sitting area with elegant furnishings. A large dressing room leads towards the opulent bathroom where you can choose to bath in a hand-carved granite bathtub (which could fit two), a deluxe rain shower protected by a polished granite shower screen or an outdoor shower amidst plants and flowers.
Fine Dining at the Summer Breeze Restaurant
The hotel has a excellent fine dining restaurant which is also open to non-guests (contact to reserve). This is located under a thatched roof, alfresco pavilion facing the infinity pool, the graceful gardens and looking out towards the ocean. You likely won’t want to leave the hotel complex during your stay (there’s really no need to!) and this wonderful restaurant is very welcome. You can dine at lunch to the chirping of the birds and take in the alluring evening ambiance over a candlelight dinner facing the shimmering pool. The hotel’s talent chef prepares a variety of creative international and Sri Lankan cuisine using exceptional local ingredients. Your meals can be accompanied by a selection of fine wines or a variety of cocktails. In the morning, you can get your day started with a delicious Sri Lankan breakfast or your favorite Western options.
Exotic Weddings & Honeymoons
The hotel is also available for small weddings. Not only is the setting absolutely magical, they can arrange a traditional Sri Lankan wedding blessing to take place during the ceremony. The hotel was almost made for honeymoons as well. It offers couple’s privacy, elegance, luxury and a heavenly beach location without the crowds. Lastly, the sunsets over the India Ocean are truly stunning, the ideal vision for long lasting memories of your unforgettable stay.
The Reef was one of the best hotels we stayed at during our time in Sri Lanka. I can’t recommend this wonderful boutique hotel more highly and hope to be back… perhaps on my own honeymoon one day? More details and booking on their website here.
Disclaimer: I was a guest of Reef Villa & Spa, however, all of the opinions expressed below are entirely my own.