Daring and dapper destinations in Sri Lanka

The eco-cool Mudhouse and unashamedly smart Cape Weligama

The kitchen at The Mudhouse, Sri Lanka
The kitchen at The Mudhouse, Sri Lanka | Image: Owen Raggett

Aside from two Amanresorts, Sri Lanka is strangely short of truly luxurious places to stay. Hence the popularity of private houses to rent via specialists such as Sam Clark, who lived in Sri Lanka for two years and whose business partner, Tom Armstrong, created the island’s coolest small eco-hotel, The Mudhouse(www.themudhouse.lk; from $145 per person all inclusive). Clark heads up the London-based Experience Travel Group (www.experiencetravelgroup.com), which organises trips combining resorts, camps and homestays with intelligent itineraries, and has access to the lesser-visited Jaffna region – a relatively new prospect given its recent political strife. Cape Weligama (www.capeweligama.com; from $605 half-board with drinks), however, is one for the risk-averse. This new and unashamedly smart 24-residence resort sits on a 12-acre headland a 20-minute drive south of Galle. Design is by Thai architect Lek Bunnag, who also did Maia Seychelles and Oberoi Mauritius. Weligama may prove too polished for some, but then the lichen-covered poetry of local buildings by Geoffrey Bawa – a Sri Lankan native who died in 2003 and is considered the father of Asian tropical indoor-outdoor pavilion-style architecture – is not for everyone, either. Weligama provides Sri Lanka first-timers with all the resort amenities they could ever want, from private butlers to a crescent-moon-shaped infinity pool. Not that you should be seduced into sitting around all day: the activities are a strong push here, and include whale watching, tours of historic Galle Fort and visits to cinnamon plantations.

A clifftop villa at Cape Weligama, Sri Lanka
A clifftop villa at Cape Weligama, Sri Lanka | Image: Cape Weligama
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