Kikili Beach

Near Galle, Galle & South Coast, Sri Lanka Book from

Reviewed by Meg Baber
Romantic, laid-back and happiness-infused beach house with pool and excellent service, near Galle (sleeps 2-3)
Pull off the hectic coastal road, step into this Buddhist monk-blessed cross between a Nantucket beach house and a Mexican hacienda, and you feel like you've arrived home to the friendliest hideaway in Sri Lanka.

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 wonderful sea breeze deters the mosquitoes; this is one of the few places in Sri Lanka where you rarely need a net over your bed
  • If you fancy a night or 2 in Galle afterwards (or if the beach house is full), Henri also runs Kikili House, a cosy 5-room guesthouse there


  • The sea in front of the house is rarely calm enough for swimming or snorkelling, but there's a pool and the Wijaya lagoon is a 5-minute stroll away
  • 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, maxims, memorabilia and the owners’ personal touches
  • Curious passers-by strolling the beach occasionally peer in, drawn by the welcoming vibe
  • It often gets booked up quickly, but you can always stay in town and cycle to the beach

Best time to go

November through until April is peak season when the sea is calmest and the rains least intense. Kikili is extremely popular during these months so you will need to book ahead. December, January and February are the finest months of all weather-wise. June and July are traditionally the wettest months but in 2010 they were actually rather pleasant, as was August. September and October have many sunny spells although heavy rains and high seas are also guaranteed.

Our top tips

  • Bear in mind there are no complimentary toiletries so you'll need to bring your own.
  • There are 3-point (UK) plug units throughout the house.
  • If you are ever caught short with no food organised for lunch or dinner, the resourceful house-staff can get you the best roti and/or curry packets from the local vendors in the village for next to nothing. The Muslim roti vendors’ street food is the best in this neighborhood.
  • Great for...

    • = Recommended
    • = Best in region
    • = World favourite
    • Private Villa
    • 1
    • Self-catering (+ onsite chef)
    • Ideal with 1 child
    • Open all year
    • Outdoor Pool
    • Spa Treatments
    • WiFi
    • Pet Friendly
    • Disabled Access
    • Beach Nearby
    • Off-street Parking
    • Restaurants Nearby
    • Air Conditioning
    • Guest Lounge
    • Terrace
    • Garden
    • Gym
    • Daily Maid Service
    • Towels & Bedlinen


    The indoor living space is small but sufficient, given the multitude of outdoor, seascape-facing seating areas on the terrace and in the garden. The bedroom, sitting room and little kitchen are white walled and high ceilinged, with dimmer spotlights and antique candelabras providing generous lighting.

    A super-colourful array of eclectic art, prints and hangings adorns the walls. Terracotta-tiled floors and colourful rugs make for a rustic and forgiving underfoot change to the polished cement of most boutique properties in Sri Lanka. Dark-wood antique bookshelves and glass cabinets match the dark-wood shutters and doors; the country cottage-style sitting room has a 2-seat sofa and heaps of DVDs and books.

    A purple velvet curtain divides the living room from the bedroom. Thick granite walls and blackout shutters ensure complete darkness, detract the heat and deflect the distant noise from the road (further drowned out by the pounding waves April-November). And the exceptionally comfortable super-king bed, complete with 6 large pillows, 220-thread count sheets and a beautiful eiderdown further encourages marathon deep sleeps.

    Tightly woven bamboo screens in the windows allow you to have darkness without blocking out the sea-breeze, or there's A/C and a fan if you prefer. The Louis Quinze-style bedside tables have matching antique lamps with deep red shades, providing romantic lighting. A chest of drawers, a hanging rail and a white wardrobe allow plenty of room for clothing.

    The tiny ensuite, mermaid blue bathroom has a huge showerhead and the same gorgeous jade stone tiles as the swimming pool.

    Features include:

    • Air conditioning
    • Barbeque
    • Coffee tea making
    • Cots Available
    • Extra beds
    • Food blender
    • Fridge
    • Full kitchen
    • Hairdryer
    • Hob stove
    • Internet access
    • Ipod dock
    • Minibar/fridge
    • Mosquito net
    • Oven
    • Safe box
    • Swimming pool
    • Toaster
    • WiFi
    • Wifi internet


    The food at Kikili is dangerously delectable. Kumara, the amazing houseboy, has a natural flair for cooking and speaks good English. He prepares breakfast ‘as you wish’ (both European and Sri Lankan), can do cafetieres and snack lunches during the day and will prepare a feast for the evening on request. His 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 somewhat on the small side for preparing meals, so we'd just let yourselves be spoilt! Wednesday is Kumara's day off, but fear not, Kikili House has a sushi night which is well worth checking out!

    There's a laminated menu sheet with over 20 suggestions of main courses and 7 puddings. And being a proud Sri Lankan, Kumara will produce a traditional curry banquet with passion. For us he whipped up a mahi-mahi fish curry with rice, dahl, pumpkin curry, beetroot curry, coconut sambal, Sun House homemade chutney and poppadoms. For a healthy alternative we also tried the delicately grilled seer fish with a delicious homemade tartare sauce, beautifully roasted peppers, sweet potato and shallots, mashed potato and butternut squash. On a sweet note, Kumara’s coconunt flan, French apple tart and chocolate mousse were to die for.

    Kikili has a minibar stocked with several bottles of white wine, local beer and gin. Two bottles of red wine are also always kept stocked. Kumara can procure more alcohol on request.

    For a change of scene, Wijaya, a 5-minute walk along the beach is arguably home to the best prawn curry in southern Sri Lanka. A 5-minute tuk-tuk ride in the other direction takes you to stunning Unawatuna, where the beachside Kingfisher restaurant is best in the area for local food, vibe and dangling your feet in the ocean as you sip beers reclining on their amalamba. These are the closest of 20+ excellent restaurants within a 15 minute tuk-tuk radius of Kikili, all of which Henri has carefully documented in the house guidebook.

    Features include:

    • Breakfast
    • Chef on request
    • Coffee tea making
    • Cooking classes
    • Dinner by arrangement
    • Food blender
    • Fridge
    • Full kitchen
    • Hob stove
    • Lunch by arrangement
    • Minibar/fridge
    • Oven
    • Restaurants nearby
    • Toaster
    • 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. 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

    Activities on site or nearby include:

    • Boat trips
    • Cooking classes
    • Farm tours
    • Hiking
    • Historical sites
    • Kayaking
    • Mountain biking
    • Museums / galleries
    • Nightlife
    • Scuba diving courses
    • Shopping / markets
    • Snorkelling
    • Surfing
    • Swimming
    • Well being
    • Whalewatching
    • Yoga


    Kikili is as ideal for a couple with 1 child as it is for lovers. We had our 11-month-old daughter with us when we did this review 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. 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.

    Best for:

    Babies (0-1 years)

    Family friendly accommodation:

    Cots Available, Extra Beds Available


    By arrangement

    Baby listening:

    Enquire when booking

    Baby equipment:

    High chairs and travel cots are available on request

    Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

    Kid Friendly:

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