“A magnificently restored estate house set amid swaying palms, fragrant frangipani trees and bamboo groves”
Illuketia has 6 bedrooms styled as suites, which are spread across the main house and the separate Pond House. These can be rented individually or a group can take the whole villa. The feel throughout is airy and light, with white walls and tiled floors accentuated by splashes of colour from bright paintings and fabrics. All rooms have ensuite bathrooms, mosquito nets and intricately carved wooden doors and windows, but don't expect to find TVs or CD players – Illuketia is about relaxing to the sounds of the natural world outside.
The 4 suites in the main house are Hibiscus, Lotus, Citronella and Waterlily. Hibiscus, originally the house's master bedroom, has a private balcony overlooking padi fields and a huge bathroom decorated with Turkish tiles, while the similarly spacious Lotus Suite has a view of the tea plantations on the hills beyond. The 2 other suites are smaller – though Citronella has a private garden terrace – and Waterlily in particular is most suited to single occupants. The main house also has a billiard and library room, a vast drawing room, shaded verandas and a central atrium with a pretty pond.
Set away from the main building and overlooking a spring-fed lily pond, the Pond House offers 2 emaculate, air-conditioned suites, both with open-air bathrooms. The Ginger Suite has an enormous double bed set on a raised platform and the Jasmine Suite has a large gilded balinese wedding bed and a double outdoor bathtub, making it a popular honeymoon suite. The house's open central area can be used as a living and dining area, although guests can eat in the Main House if they wish.
Illuketia has a permanent, English-speaking staff who pride themselves on the gourmet delights they create – outside guests often come for dinner to sample the delicious cuisine. Shopping expeditions for drinks and food are taken care of by the housekeeper, though guests are welcome to phone in special requests or even go along to the market with the staff.
The food on offer is international with a Sri Lankan influence. Dinner, served on the veranda to the call of cicadas or in one of the dining rooms, uses seasonal vegetables cooked with spices and coconuts plucked from the estate. Fresh squid, shrimp and lobster are also on offer. We particularly enjoyed the desserts – buffalo milk curd served in earthen pots with treacle from palm trees is a specialty of the house.
Breakfast, eaten whenever and wherever you want, consists of fresh fruit, eggs, sausages, bacon and pancakes, together with chilled juices and locally grown coffee. Lunches of salads and tasty sandwiches and afternoon teas are also available.
Children are very welcome. There is no charge for those under 11 sharing their parents' room and cots with mosquito nets are available.
There are no dedicated children's activities on site, but the pool has shallow areas at each end and kids will enjoy spotting the many species of wildlife which live in the grounds.
Cots Available, Extra Beds Available
Babysitting can be arranged on request.
There is no set children's menu, but the staff are happy to prepare child-friendly meals.
There are several ponds in the garden which parents should be aware of.