December 16 2010
A quiet but undeniable buzz continues to build around Sri Lanka, now a year and a half out of its civil strife and remaking itself slowly but steadily. A historic house in Kothmale, not far from Kandy in the island’s interior, has been re-imagined as a small, lovely guesthouse, which can also be taken in its entirety as a private villa. The former home of political leader and onetime presidential candidate Gamini Dissanayake, Mas Villa (www.masvilla.com, from $216; entire villa, from $1,080) has four double guest rooms and one massive suite, comprising the entire first floor of the house, with 20ft ceilings and a wall of tall French windows, with views across jungle-clad hills.
The dining room is lit in the evenings by dozens of candles; its polished, 40ft-long table allows guests to gaze down the mist-filled valleys as they enjoy a three-course dinner (the menu changes every night). Day trips to Kandy and Nuwara Eliya can be arranged, as can tours of local tea plantations and temples. But Mas Villa’s appeal, equal parts mod cons (a gym and spa, wi-fi) and old-school charms (a billiards room and library, honour bars in the common spaces) plus a healthy dose of breathtaking natural beauty, mean a stay here may consist of just that.