Aranwella, near Tangalle, Sri Lanka
Stylish small hotel wrapped in bird-filled gardens and picturesque paddy fields, just inland from Tangalle and its beaches
Many of Sri Lanka’s crumbling ancestral abodes have been
rescued by foreigners keen to revive these magnificent mansions.
But where others deviate little in their redesign, interior
designer Niki Fairchild, co-owner of Maya Villa, has broken free of
the mould by masterfully blending the old with the new. First, she
completely refurbished the original 19th-century manor house, then
she added a new wing and fused them together with an L-shaped
indigo swimming pool. The result is a refreshingly simple yet
striking take on colonial style, with 5 contemporary rooms
available individually or together as a staffed villa for
Enveloping the house is a magical 2-acre garden, home to melodious armies of exotic birds, and this setting entices families, couples and nature lovers alike. Unspoilt Aranwella immerses the hotel in tranquility; borrow bicycles to peddle around this sleepy little village, or take a tuk-tuk to the south coast’s beautiful beaches, 8km away. But Maya’s star attraction is the mesmerising sea of paddy fields rolling out beyond its emerald lawns. Their colours change chameleon-like according to the season, and provide a stunning backdrop to lazy alfresco meals - some of the tastiest we’ve come across in Tangalle.
Reviewed by Emma Boyle
- A very private, pampering retreat: the villa’s gentle staff cater to guests’ every need, and there’s a masseur on call
- Sleek and spacious rooms, all with verandas or courtyards; some have romantic four-poster beds, too
- The superb chef, whose repertoire ranges from Far Eastern nosh to full English breakfasts to local rice and curry
- Abundant wildlife - hornbills, parakeets and electric-blue kingfishers chatter in trees, and pompous peacocks pace the lawn
- Beautiful sunsets over the paddy fields, best paired with a speciality arrack sour. Lie back in a hammock to watch the drama unfold
- The nearest beach is 15 minutes away, but transport is easily arranged and Maya’s garden, pool and privacy more than make up for the inland location
- The lush garden attracts mosquitoes, especially after rain, so you’ll need to lather on repellent at dawn and dusk
- No twin rooms
- Guests have reported local dogs bark at night; bring earplugs!
Hong Kong decorator Niki Fairchild has turned a century-old house into the glamorous five-suite Maya...Travel + Leisure