Kahanda Kanda

Near Galle, Galle & South Coast, Sri Lanka Book from US$335

Reviewed by Laila Ram
Totally indulgent hideaway hotel with sweeping views over a tea estate and lake, just 15 minutes from the beach
Perched on a ridge overlooking Koggala Lake and surrounded by 12 acres of a working tea estate, Kahanda Kanda is a small, luxurious and totally indulgent retreat. From the moment you're welcomed with a refreshing fruit drink, a chilled hand towel and a broad smile, you feel any stress start to melt away.

The amazing views are on display at every turn - behind the shimmering infinity pool, mirrored in the lily-strewn ponds around the open-sided living and dining pavilions, or from your very private suite. Even the 80m saffron wall which juts across the property has windows judiciously cut out to frame glimpses of the estate, the verdant jungle and the lake in the distance. The exotic-chic interiors combine polished concrete floors and a quirky mix of Asian antiques and contemporary Sri Lankan furnishings which, together with the impeccably friendly service, make Kahanda Kanda a thoroughly sophisticated and romantic place that you'll find hard to leave.

Highs

  • Stylish and soothing design both inside and out, plus some suites have private plunge pools
  • You'll find utter peace and tranquility
  • Resident owner George Cooper and his staff make you feel totally at home
  • Stunning gardens, filled with colourful birdlife (including peacocks and parakeets)
  • Have we mentioned the breathtaking views?

Lows

  • Mozzies can be a real problem here - stock up on repellent before you arrive
  • It's a (bumpy) drive to get anywhere - the hotel can arrange for a tuk-tuk to take you to Galle (20 minutes), or a car and driver for places further afield
  • We've heard mixed reports about the quality of the massages on offer

Best time to go

November to April is Sri Lanka's dry season (the rest of the year can bring heavy monsoon downpours, but you'll often find air fares are cheaper and the towns and beaches are less crowded with tourists). Book well ahead for the busy Christmas period.

Our top tips

Southern Sri Lanka is one of the best places in the world for spotting blue whales. Ask the hotel about bespoke whale-watching trips off the coast of Galle.

Great for...

Honeymoon
Spa
Wedding
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 10
  • Restaurant and bar (open daily)
  • Over 12s welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Bicycles Available
Room: Hellaconia Suite

Rooms

The air-conditioned suites are spread among several free-standing pavilions in the garden, ensuring maximum privacy. The airy interiors are beautifully designed, with canopied beds, daybeds built into window bays, and pillow-strewn rattan couches for lounging about on and enjoying the views.

The largest suite is Peacock, with windows right around to maximise the vistas. Its large bedroom is furnished with a kingsize four-poster bed and there's a romantic private courtyard with sun beds. There are 2 ensuite bathrooms, each with an outdoor shower. Almost as vast, and with the added luxury of a private swimming pool, is the Dubu Suite. It sits inside a beautiful (if unusual) Javanese-style house set away from the other suites, with timbered walls, an ornately carved ceiling and 2 outdoor bathrooms.

The Mango Suite and Tamarind Suite are hidden behind the saffron wall, each set in their own pavilion. Each has a bedroom with a sitting area, an ensuite bathroom with twin basins, and a private veranda with views over the tea estate. Mango has double indoor showers; Tamarind has a single outdoor shower.

Located on a lower terraced level beyond the swimming pool, the Garden Suite and Tea Suite are more traditional in style than the other rooms. The Garden Suite is furnished with a four-poster double bed while the Tea Suite has twin four-posters. Both have ensuite bathrooms with twin basins and open-air showers, and share a veranda where you can relax or dine in total tranquility.

The secluded Hellaconia Suite has a private pool and lawn area and the Nelum Suite is accessed via steps near the living pavilion. These and the Araliya Suite are less fussy in décor, with clean lines, contemporary Asian furnishings and twin showers (outdoors in Hellaconia, indoors in Araliya and Nelum). We stayed in Araliya, and whiled away hours on the veranda watching parakeets flitting overhead and water buffalo plodding across the rice paddies below. Since our visit, the Hibiscus Suite (with it's own pool) has also joined the ranks.

All rooms have WiFi, iPod docks and lovely shower gels, body lotions, conditioners and moisturisers. The Dubu Suite also has a TV and DVD player, and this and the Peacock Suite have minibars.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Coffee tea making
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Ipod dock
  • Safe box
  • Terrace
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet

Eating

At Kahanda Kanda (or KK, as it's become known), you can eat when and where you want: by the pool, in the open-sided dining pavilion, or on cushions underneath a candlelit gazebo in the beautiful tropical gardens.

Staff will check each morning whether you plan to stay in for lunch and dinner, and the chefs will prepare meals to suit your tastes. The food is fresh, healthy and very tasty, combining Sri Lankan, Western and Thai influences. We enjoyed a delicious dinner of pumpkin and lemongrass soup, Thai prawn curry with coconut rice, and a range of homemade ice creams (including a mouthwatering wood apple sorbet), and an equally appetising prawn and mango salad for lunch. Most of the fruit, vegetables and herbs are grown on the estate, and seafood and meat are bought daily at the local market.

Breakfast begins with toast and zingy homemade jam (we loved the passionfruit option), plus tea, coffee and fresh juice. This is followed by a choice of local delicacies, perhaps hoppers, fruit salad with creamy buffalo curd, or coconut pancakes with pineapple or bananas.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cooking classes
  • Restaurant
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating: Dining Pavilion
Activity:

Activities

  • Visit the historic town of Galle (17km away and 30 minutes by tuk-tuk) and explore the narrow maze of streets within its Dutch fort. You'll find a growing collection of art galleries, antique shops, cafés and restaurants

  • The beaches of Unawatuna and Mirissa (both a 15-minute drive away) are great for swimming, surfing and snorkelling. Also around 15 minutes away is Wijaya beach, a sheltered stretch of sand with a reef and a lively beach café favoured by ex-pats

  • Take a boat ride on Koggala Lake, which is scattered with little islands, including Fish Eagle Island, where hundreds of eagles come to nest at dusk, and Cinnamon Island, where several families process cinnamon into essential oils

  • Tour the nearby tea plantation (staff can arrange this for you) - a highlight for us. It's run by local legend Herman Gunaratne and supplies salons in London and Paris. You'll see the factory with its beautiful old machinery, and enjoy tasting different varieties. There's also a shop where you can stock up on supplies to take home

  • Head to the Uda Walawe and Yala national parks. It's a long drive but you'll spot elephants, leopards and countless species of bird

  • Back at Kahanda Kanda, relax in the bird-filled gardens and by the pool, unwind with a massage, or borrow a bike to potter around the estate. Yoga can also be arranged on request

  • Or try your hand at Sri Lankan cooking during the informal cookery classes run at the property

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Art classes
  • Boat trips
  • Cooking classes
  • Cycling
  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Scuba diving
  • Snorkelling
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Tea plantation tours
  • Traditional cultures
  • Well being
  • Whalewatching
  • Wildlife
  • Yoga

Kids

Kahanda Kanda does not accept children under 12. This is a very intimate and romantic spot and is not suitable for young children, particularly because of the many lily pools and the steep drops from some of the rooms.

Extra beds are available on request.

Best for:

Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Extra Beds Available

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
8/
Food
10/
Service
9/
Value
9/
Overall

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