Stay: The Wallawwa – Colombo, Sri Lanka

We pull into the canopy-covered driveway of The Wallawwa at dusk, the finish line of an arduous 32 hour journey to Colombo, Sri Lanka. The backs of my legs are stuck to the seat as my body struggles to adjust to the heat. The staff is one step ahead though, greeting us with cucumber mint cocktails and refreshing cold towels. It’s these small, often overlooked, details that deserve my most sincere gratitude in moments like this.

Once an old colonial house, the refurbished Wallawwa hotel now maintains an intimate 17 contemporary bedrooms and suites surrounded by lush jungle. Its close proximity to the Bandaranaike Airport gives it a reputation as a pit stop for guests to rest and recollect from long-haul flights before continuing inland to the cultural triangle, or south towards the beaches. After my stay, I regard the Wallawwa not as a place to briefly pause, but as a destination in itself.

By day, guests can ease stiff muscles with a massage at the spa, relax in the outdoor showers, cozy up with a book in the library or cool off in its postcard-worthy swimming pool. Each room has a spacious solar-powered rain shower and is equipped with strong AC.

The hotel’s restaurant, The Verandah, serves a pleasing variety of snacks, main courses and cuisines (try the homemade pita and hummus and Sri Lankan hoppers). Most of their ingredients are sourced from the property’s private garden. For an authentic experience, ask the staff to prepare a cocktail with arrack – the local liquor derived from coconut flowers.

The evening brings a beautiful ambiance to The Verandah. I sat al fresco under the candle light, listening to the sounds and conversations of the jungle – birds chirping, bugs chatting, and maybe even the sound of a monkey or two. Although I had just arrived, I suddenly became aware of the how distant my recent journey had started to feel. My only regret was not staying longer.

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