The Wallawwa, Colombo
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Set in a magnificent garden, this old Sri Lankan 'manor house' dates back two hundred years. Surrounded by neatly manicured lawns and trees that provide the shade and cool breeze during the sweltering Sri Lankan summer, The Wallawwa gives a feeling of staying in a luxurious house. Indeed, the property was once occupied by the Head Chieftain of Galle which gives meaning to the name “Wallawwa”. In Sinhala the term “Walauwa” or “Wallawwa” is used to express the aristocracy and the position they occupy in connections to the local kings or colonial masters.
The Wallawwa building is single storey with tiled roofing, as it used to be when it was a 'manor house'. Now lovingly and sensitively restored it is a 14-room hotel. The front of the building is original whilst the bedrooms, set around a courtyard, are all new. My suite is very spacious and comfortable with four-poster bed, a huge bathroom and walk in shower. Double wash basins are hewn out of massive lumps of granite and fittings are of European standard. All the rooms also have a small garden area complete with day bed at the back as well, which was great for relaxing.
Breakfast next morning was in the verandah overlooking a lovely garden set within the 3-acre estate. It was here that I was introduced to my favourite Sri Lankan breakfast item, the egg hopper, with its subtle coconut milk fragrance and ever so delicate batter. The juices are fresh, the coffee is local and the tea is the best you can find anywhere in the world.
The restaurant was probably the highlight of the hotel. Meals were a mix of European and local dishes but don’t miss the Sri Lankan curry and rice. The pork belly and the Malaysian crab in spicy curry sauce are both amazing! The wine list is also very good, and not too expensive for Sri Lanka.
There is a lovely pool under the trees, which was thoughtfully built in a secluded far corner of the garden, discreetly walled by shrubbery for privacy. On the other side of the garden is a beautiful "natural" pond with some herons and kingfishers flying in and out of it and there were birds and butterflies. If you get past the price, try to visit the spa, which provides excellent massages which are followed by a relaxing herbal tea whilst reclining and looking across a small pond that they have in the waiting area.
One More Thing: As the night falls, I sit on my wicker chair in the verandah and watch the children chase the fireflies. The feel is purely colonial, providing a true example to the term “verandah” now so commonly used in the English language. I take a leisurely walk around its interior courtyard and appreciate the decor of the various public rooms, decorated to give off an old world charm. It feels like living in the past, in the home of The Wallawwa family.
Sri Lankan Airlines flies twice daily from Heathrow to Colombo. Sri Lanka airlines and BMI fly direct to Colombo while other International carriers like Emirates fly via Dubai and Jet Airways via India. Direct flights take 10 hours. The Wallawwa is strategically located close to the Dambulla, Kandy and Galle highways and is just 15 minutes from Sri Lanka’s only international airport and approximately 45-60 minutes from the hustle and bustle of central Colombo.
It is not advisable to rent a vehicle and self drive in Sri Lanka as traffic conditions make driving a challenge. The faster, comfortable and safer method for getting around Sri Lanka is to get the service of Chauffer driven car or mini-van.