“Romantic, laid-back and happiness-infused beach house with pool and excellent service, near Galle (sleeps 2-3)”
Where better, after all, to hang your sunhat than at the bohemian seaside retreat of Henri Tatham, long-time manageress of The Dutch House and The Sun House, Galle’s most lauded old-colonial hotels? She and boyfriend Koki completed this remarkable renovation project in November 2005, and since then it's had nothing but rave reviews from its guests - and we instantly saw why. The space, the quirky colourful decor, the beauty of your setting... it's a remarkable place that rejuves and makes your soul rejoice.
When you tire of whiling away time between the sunbeds, the swing seat, the ambalamba pavilion, the pool, your very own rum-shack bar and the cushioned daybeds, walk 300m along the beach to Wijaya, the beach bar at the epicentre of Galle’s expat community. There you can wallow in the lagoon, surf the surrounding reef breaks or party till sunrise. Return home and sink into another deep, dreamless sleep in the exceptionally comfortable bedroom. Kikili Beach is a wondrous, curative world unto itself.
- Sipping cocktails in the ambalamba pavilion as turtles bob in the waves and the sun sets over the Japanese Peace Temple on the western headland
- Wonderful, fresh banquets from Kumara, the faultless houseboy who has been at Kikili since the beginning
- The staff have it exactly right here: you will never feel intruded upon, yet have every wish cheerfully taken care of (even babysitting)
- The sea breeze deters the mosquitoes, so you rarely need a net over your bed (but one is provided just in case)
- If you fancy a night or 2 in Galle afterwards (or if the beach house is full), Henri also runs a cosy 5-room guesthouse
- The sea in front of the house is rarely calm enough for swimming, but there's a pool, the Wijaya lagoon is a 5-minute stroll away and guests often daytrip to nearby Mirissa or Weligama for swimming
- If you're a minimalist with a penchant for spartan living spaces, this place is not for you; it's a medley of patterns, textiles, prints, paintings and the owners’ personal touches
- Curious passers-by strolling the beach occasionally peered in, drawn by the welcoming vibe, but we still felt totally comfortable in our surroundings
- It often gets booked up quickly, but you can always stay at Kikili House in town and cycle to the beach
Best time to go
Our top tips
There are 3-point (UK) plug units throughout the house.”
- Private Villa
- Self-catering (+ onsite chef)
- Ideal with 1 child
- Open all year
- Outdoor Pool
- Spa Treatments
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
- Daily Maid Service
- Towels & Bedlinen
The indoor living space is small but sufficient, with colourful eclectic art, prints and hangings. The bedroom, sitting room and little kitchen are white walled and high ceilinged. Outside, the terrace and garden have a multitude of welcoming seascape-facing seating areas.
The country cottage-style sitting room has a two-seat sofa and heaps of DVDs and books. A purple velvet curtain divides the living room from the bedroom. The exceptionally comfortable super-king bed, complete with large pillows and 220-thread count sheets, encourages marathon deep sleeps.
Thick granite walls and blackout shutters ensure complete darkness, detract the heat and deflect the distant road noise. Tightly woven bamboo screens in the windows provide shade without blocking out the sea-breeze, plus there's air-conditioning and a fan.
The tiny mermaid-blue ensuite bathroom has a huge showerhead and the same gorgeous jade stone tiles as the swimming pool. Luxury toiletries from Ophir, a natural spa in Colombo, are provided. Throughout, rustic terracotta-tiled floors, colourful rugs and dark-wood shutters create a homely vibe. A chest of drawers, a hanging rail and a white wardrobe allow plenty of room for clothing.
- Air conditioning
- Coffee / tea making
- Cots Available
- Extra beds
- Food blender
- Full kitchen
- Hob or stove
- Ipod dock
- Mosquito net
- Safe box
- Swimming pool
The food at Kikili is dangerously delectable. Kumara, the amazing houseboy, has a natural flair for cooking and speaks great English. He prepares breakfast ‘as you wish’ (both European and Sri Lankan), snack lunches and evening feasts on request.
Being a proud Sri Lankan, Kumara will produce a traditional curry banquet with passion and the menu has over 20 main course suggestions. For us, he whipped up a mahi-mahi fish curry with rice, dahl, beetroot curry, coconut sambal, Sun House homemade chutney and poppadoms. We also tried delicately grilled seer fish with a delicious homemade tartare sauce, beautifully roasted peppers, sweet potato and shallots. For pudding, Kumara’s coconut flan, French apple tart and chocolate mousse were to die for.
Kumara’s help is included in the rates, though you pay for the food itself. If you have more than 4 people for dinner, he will get in a helper for a few extra rupees.
If you would like to cook for yourselves he can happily do the shopping for you. Be warned that the kitchen is on the small side for preparing meals - we just let ourselves be spoilt instead!
Kikili has a minibar stocked with white and red wine, local beer and gin. Kumara can procure more alcohol on request.
Wednesday is Kumara's day off. For a change of scene, Wijaya, a 5-minute walk along the beach is home to arguably the best prawn curry in southern Sri Lanka. Alternatively, take a 5-minute tuk-tuk ride to stunning Unawatuna, where the beachside Kingfisher restaurant has the best local food and vibe - dangle your feet in the ocean over a couple of beers. These are the closest of 20+ excellent restaurants within a 15 minute tuk-tuk radius of Kikili, all of which are in the house guidebook.
- Chef on request
- Coffee / tea making
- Dinner by arrangement
- Food blender
- Full kitchen
- Hob or stove
- Lunch by arrangement
- Restaurants nearby
- Vegetarian menu
Staying at Galle-luminary Henri Tatham’s residence is like taking a shortcut to all the very best the area has to offer in terms of restaurants, nightlife, shopping, beauty, cooking classes, watersports, boat trips and well-being. The following are a few hot recommendations, complete with contact details, endorsed in the Kikili guidebook:
- Embark on a gentle 15km or invigorating 30km scenic mountain bike ride with Alex Barratt, starting at Wijaya and culminating at either the magical Leopard Rock hillside ambalamba (think mini Machu Picchu) or with lunch and a tour at Samakanda, an ecotopia organic hilltop farm of epic proportions
- Visit the Handunugoda Tea Estate, where Herman and David are both excellent hosts
- Surf at Kabalana or Weligama beach breaks - less dicey than Wijaya reef breaks, so more suitable for beginners and intermediates (lessons can be arranged)
- Go whale watching in Mirissa. Between December and March when the seas are calmest, blue whale spotting is ‘95% guaranteed’ and spinner dolphin spotting is ‘100% guaranteed’
- Galle Fort, the best preserved and most beautiful of Portugual’s 16th-century Fortress towns in Asia is an unmissable world heritage site, a mere 10-minute tuk-tuk drive away. A rampart walk at sunset to the sound of the calls to prayer from the minarets is one of the most magical experiences southern Sri Lanka has to offer. You will see the old Dutch and English churches, the Governor’s residence, the tree-lined square of court, the Portuguese black fort, the lighthouse and the granite clock tower. But don’t interrupt Sri Lankan lovers canoodling in the high ramparts!
- Take a cooking lesson with Kumara or at the local school in Unawatuna, and learn how to whip up an authentic curry
- Unwind with a massage or private yoga class with Sri Yoga Shala (just a couple of minutes from Kikili Beach)
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Boat trips
- Cooking classes
- Farm tours
- Historical sites
- Mountain biking
- Museums / galleries
- Scuba diving courses
- Shopping / markets
- Well being
- Whale watching
Kikili is as ideal for a couple with 1 child as it is for lovers. We visited with our 11-month-old daughter and she could not have been happier or better looked after. The house staff are naturals with kids and only too glad to babysit for an hour here and there. More babysitting can be provided at an additional cost. The pool is not gated or walled off so you will need to watch crawlers at all times. Bring your own travel cot and feeding chair.
Babies (0-1 years)
Family friendly accommodation:
Cots Available, Extra Beds Available
Enquire when booking
High chairs and travel cots are available on request
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking