“A low-key safari lodge fringing the leopard-dense Yala National Park, with luxurious chalets, a freeform pool and plentiful nature-based activities”
Cinnamon Wild has 2 types of chalet, Jungle and Beach, both of which share similar décor and facilities. In keeping with the game-lodge aesthetic, the cosy, tangerine-hued interiors are furnished with safari-style chairs and tables, metallic sinks, wood-framed double beds, and either terracotta tiles or warm wooden floorboards. Textured timber-based lamps and rattan bed runners provide a touch of rusticity, whilst furnished terraces or balconies absorb the jungle views.
We stayed in one of the 8 timber Beach Chalets, which sit on stilts a few metres above the ground and offer glimpses of the ocean through the foliage. They’re designed for couples (although they can take an extra bed or cot) and offer the most privacy; most are self-contained, but a couple are adjoined.
Constructed in harmony with the surroundings, the Jungle Chalets are sprinkled around the scrubby woodland. Slightly bigger than the Beach Chalets, they’re more family-friendly and have a sofa that converts into a single bed. A few interconnect, and 2 have wheelchair access.
All chalets have ensuite bathrooms with powerful rain showers (no tubs), as well as minibars, satellite TV and a good WiFi connection. Ours was very comfortable - a lovely sanctuary after our safaris - and the only sounds to be heard by day or night were the waves, the birds and the crickets.
The hotel’s restaurant, Tuskers, is located on the first floor of the main pavilion, open to the breeze and overlooking the pool and bird-filled lake beyond. Most meals are buffets, except when there are few guests staying, in which case a set menu is offered instead. There’s no room service, which is understandable given the locale.
We found a fair amount of choice for lunch and dinner (12.30-2pm and 7.30-10pm). A Sri Lankan corner offered curries, sambols, rice and condiments in traditional clay pots, whilst international options included battered squid, lamb hotpot and tomato pasta. Part of the spread was laid out in an air-conditioned room, which is where the desserts, salads and cheeses were displayed.
The breakfast selection (7-10am) includes live cooking stations for crispy hoppers, eggs and bacon, as well as freshly cut fruit and the usual breads and jams. Early tea, coffee and juices followed by packed breakfasts are offered for those heading off on dawn game drives.
Pugmarks, the attractive pool bar, is an alternative venue for all-day dining (11am-11pm), and we had lunch there when we arrived. The à la carte menu is varied, with dishes ranging from pasta to club sandwiches and grilled fish. We opted for a Thai-style salad which, although not fully authentic, was tasty and well balanced. There’s also a bar on the rooftop observation deck (open from 4pm), which offers beautiful sunset views.
Children of all ages are welcome at Cinnamon Wild, although there are no dedicated kids’ facilities. The focus on wildlife means older, nature-loving children who are able to entertain themselves will feel most at home here.
Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)
The Jungle Chalets have a single sofabed (extra charge) and some interconnect; Beach Chalets can each take an extra bed. Baby cots are available in all chalets for no additional cost.
The buffet includes options to please young tastebuds, and there are plenty of Western dishes (pasta, sandwiches) for those who don’t like spicy food.
The grounds are not fenced, and wildlife wanders freely (staff will escort you to and from your chalet after dark). The pool is not fenced, and the ocean is not safe for swimming.