Kikili House

Galle & South Coast, Sri Lanka Book from

Reviewed by Emma Boyle
Soulful 5-bedroom B&B in historic Galle, with colour-infused interiors, a convivial vibe and welcoming, in-the-know hosts
The positive energy of Kikili House’s engaging owners extends to every vibrant corner of this great-value B&B, set in a leafy residential area of Galle. From the outside, the modest 5-bedroom abode looks perfectly in tune with its well-to-do neighbours, but step across the threshold and the similarities stop there. Inside, Pakistani rugs, Indian bedspreads, eye-catching artwork, well-thumbed novels, montages of photographs and a mishmash of colourful textiles infuse the house with warmth.

The friendly, bohemian vibe means sociable couples and single travellers will feel very much at home here. The balmy roof terrace and fairylight-strung lawn are conducive to lazy drinks with other like-minded guests, and breakfasts are hearty affairs served by discreet staff who leave you to your own devices. Lunch and dinner are also available. Within easy reach are a number of idyllic beaches, whilst the famous Galle Fort - sprinkled with boutiques and cafés - is only a 10-minute stroll away.

Highs

  • The bedrooms are loaded with thoughtful extras: fluffy beach towels, printed bathrobes, fragrant Spa Ceylon toiletries
  • Delightful owners Henri and Koki happily share their invaluable local tips, from dolphin-watching to cycle tours, and also run a laid-back beach house nearby
  • Delicious home-cooked breakfasts are served until a leisurely 11am, and the other meals (on request) are equally good
  • The honesty bar is well-stocked with a selection of wines and international spirits, plus tasty local snacks
  • The rates are excellent. There's also a cheaper room for solo visitors, as well as discounts for long-term stays

Lows

  • The vivid, textile-stuffed interiors won’t appeal to lovers of minimalism or gadgetry (there are no TVs or music systems)
  • Communal meals and the sociable atmosphere mean it’s not ideal for those who prefer to keep themselves to themselves
  • There’s no pool, but you can spend the day by the pool at a nearby hotel
  • The windows in one room, Orpington, open onto the roof terrace, so you might hear other guests chatting in the evening
  • Not suited to families: only over 12s are accepted, and there are no twin rooms

Best time to go

November to April are the driest months on the south coast, but bear in mind that December to March is the height of the tourist season so you'll need to book accommodation well in advance; this is also the best time for whale-watching. May and June are the wettest months. July and August are pleasant but the Indian Ocean is rough. September and October can be sunny, but heavy rain and humidity are typical.

Our top tips

For a truly tranquil day beside the ocean, we love Why Beach, one of Galle’s best-kept secrets. This garden-wrapped restaurant has a beautiful deck where you can languish on sunbeds and watch turtles bobbing up for air. The food is Italian and wholly authentic, and the beach is deserted, offering some of the most idyllic swimming in the area.

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
Foodie
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique B&B
  • 5
  • Breakfast (+ other meals on request)
  • Children aged 12+ only
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Bicycles Available
  • Board games and books
Room: Deluxe Double

Rooms

Henri and Koki have a fascination for all things hen-related (kikili is Sinhalese for chicken), and the 5 bright and cheerful rooms are named after their favourite breeds. All are air-conditioned doubles adorned with Indian bedspreads, vivid local textiles, colourful artwork and freshly cut flowers.

Orpington, the light and airy front bedroom, is everyone’s favourite, although its windows open onto the communal roof terrace so it isn’t always the quietest. Second-largest is Plymouth Rock, whose bijou bathroom is compensated by a lovely private terrace. In the middle, and opening onto the main guest lounge, are Wali Kukula (where we stayed) and Faverolle, similarly sized rooms with four-poster beds. Further along the hall lies Silky Bantam, the most petite room, which comes with a smaller bed (and a cheaper price tag) than the others; known as the ‘Friend’s Room’, this intimate space is ideal for single travellers, though it can fit 2 people at a squeeze.

All rooms have plenty of amenities, including writing desks, big wardrobes with lots of hanging space, free WiFi, a choice of foam or feather pillows, bathrobes, beach towels, and Spa Ceylon toiletries. The ensuite bathrooms have showers only, but there’s a communal powder room with a tub off the hallway, which all guests are welcome to use.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Beach towels
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • Honesty bar
  • Mosquito net
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

The lush front garden is where most guests dine and imbibe; a communal round table takes pride of place under a vibrant pink parasol on the lawn. From here you can wander directly into the dining room (with a well-stocked honesty bar), which is separated from the sky-blue kitchen by a wide countertop bar. Meals can also be served on the roof terrace.

A generous breakfast spread is laid out every morning, with delicious homemade muesli, fresh tropical fruit salad, thambili (king coconut juice), and local buffalo curd with kithul (palm honey) for drizzling. There’s also bread for toasting, Marmite or exotic fruit jams for spreading, and hot dishes (bacon and eggs in our case) served by smiling staff. Sri Lankan breakfasts are also on offer, although you’ll need to order the night before. They comprise string hoppers (steamed rice-flour nests), egg hoppers (crispy bowl-shaped pancakes), tasty local curries (fish, dhal or potato) and fiery pol sambol, a mixture of grated coconut, chilli and lime.

Tea and cakes are served every afternoon, and lunches and dinners are available on request; the cook works until 5pm, but will prepare an evening meal and leave it in the kitchen ready for you to reheat. House specialities include curry, lasagne, a delicious fish pie and homemade ice creams.

If you want to eat out, there are a few good restaurants in Galle. Our picks include The Sun House just up the road, and Fortaleza in the fort.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Communal dining
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Restaurants nearby
Eating:
Activity: Galle Fort

Activities

  • Stroll (or cycle - Kikili House has 2 bicycles for guest use, plus a moped to rent) through Galle’s historic Dutch Fort. Potter up the café- and boutique-flanked lanes to the lighthouse, before ending up on the ramparts for sunset
  • Take a dip in the Indian Ocean at Dalawella, before savouring a seafood lunch at the laid-back expat hangout of Wijaya Beach. Henri and Koki can arrange an instructor if you want to learn how to surf
  • Enjoy a Sri Lankan cooking class with one of Henri and Koki's friends, who runs sessions in a gorgeous tropical setting just 15 minutes away by tuk-tuk, then sit down to sample the results in a garden enveloped by paddy fields
  • Explore the inland scenery on a guided bicycle or kayak tour with Galle-based Idle Tours
  • Take the train to Bentota to visit 2 magical gardens: renowned Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa’s expansive Lunuganga and his brother Bevis’ more intimate Brief
  • Go whale- or dolphin-watching by boat (December-March) or hop onboard one of local company Simplify’s aerial sightseeing flights, ‘Wings over Whales’ (weekends only)
  • Make for Tittigala, where you can wander through a lowland tea plantation, take a tour of the factory and sample a cuppa or two
  • Or just relax at the B&B. Head to the lounge, where you’ll find shelves brimming with board games and novels, or ask Henri and Koki to arrange a private yoga class or a massage

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Boat trips
  • Cooking classes
  • Cycling
  • Dolphin watching
  • Historical sites
  • Kayaking
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Private guided tours
  • Shopping / markets
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Well being
  • Whalewatching
  • Yoga

Kids

The relaxed atmosphere here is best suited to adults, and there are no facilities for families. Children aged 12 and over are welcome, but they will need their own room as no extra beds are available.

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

9/
Rooms
9/
Food
9/
Service
9/
Value
9/
Overall

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