Malabar Hill

Weligama, Galle & Environs, Sri Lanka Book from Book from £226 per night

An enchanting escape perched on a sea-facing hilltop, where honeymooners and friends can soak up mesmerising views and fabulous food

Once a cinnamon plantation, Malabar Hill has been transformed into a resplendent hideaway, where endemic birdlife and vegetation abound. Created by two friends who have lived in Asia for decades, this sumptuous small hotel fuses design elements from across the region to craft a serene sanctuary for romantic couples and friends travelling together.

Rajasthani-inspired architecture and Middle Eastern furnishings meet Sri Lankan craftsmanship and natural materials in the Hill House, an imposing restaurant pavilion offering 240° views of tropical treetops and the sea. Just alongside sits the 35m infinity pool, where four-poster daybeds invite guests to bask in the sunshine, zingy cocktails in hand. The villas themselves are hidden along meandering garden paths, each with private plunge pools and panoramic vistas. Feast on Cordon Bleu-trained chef Roshini’s delectable fare, try your hand at cooking classes, yoga and guided birdwatching, or head out to explore this very special corner of Sri Lanka’s south coast. Beautiful and secluded, Malabar Hill’s real secret is its superb team, whose warm welcome and flawless service had us absolutely charmed — and made it very tricky to leave.
Covid update: see our Flexible Booking Policy.

Highs

  • A design lover’s dream, the hotel fuses Sri Lankan, Rajasthani and Moroccan influences to create an indulgent, bohemian vibe
  • The friendly team’s attention to detail is exceptional — including messaging on WhatsApp to ask if we’d like another round of cocktails on our terrace
  • An abundance of biodiversity: birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts can marvel at myriad plants and birds
  • The sublime sense of seclusion is ideal for honeymooners
  • Surfers are a short drive from the waves of Weligama, Ahangama and Mirissa – also the place to go for airborne whale-watching tours

Lows

  • Children must be age 12+ to stay; this is a tranquil, adult-focused hotel
  • If you plan to arrive by car, you’ll find the hill road very steep. Ask the hotel to send their electric cart to meet you at the gate
  • Polished concrete floors can be slippery — all the more reason to take your time when stepping out of your plunge pool
  • No spa yet, but plans are underway to build one in the grounds. At the moment, restorative in-room massages are a great way to relax

Best time to go

Malabar Hill is open year-round. Sri Lanka’s south coast is in season between November and March, when you can expect balmy temperatures and lots of sunshine. This is also the best time of year for surfers, who can hone their skills at nearby Weligama Bay.

April is Sri Lanka’s hottest month, and perhaps best avoided — although villas are air-conditioned and there’s generally a breeze on the hill.

Our top tips

Ask for breakfast in your villa, and perch either on your terrace or on round cushions at the low wood-and-brass table just inside, facing the panorama. You’ll spot yellow orioles and fluttering butterflies as you sip your morning coffee and tuck into fresh fruit and Sri Lankan specialities. The service that we experienced was seamless, and the egg hoppers with fiery lunu miris — an onion, chilli and lime dip — were delicious.

Great for...

Foodie
Great Outdoors
Romantic
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 14 villas
  • Restaurant and bar (open daily)
  • Over 12s only
  • 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
  • Concierge Service
  • Bicycles Available
  • Laundry service
Room:

Rooms

Fringed by leafy vegetation and promising spectacular views, each of the 14 standalone villas feels like a magical retreat of its own. Ochre-painted walls hide airy, 82sq.m spaces embellished with big cosy beds, Indian carved wooden furniture and inviting block-printed cushions. Little details — yoga mats, refillable toiletry jars and organic Sri Lankan teas — feel carefully considered, reflecting Malabar Hill’s wellness focus.

Pad across glittering polished concrete floors to find refreshing rain showers set behind bamboo doors. Ready for a dip? Don a blue-and-white dressing gown before folding back floor-to-ceiling glass windows, opening up an entire wall to reveal an infinity pool and terrace seating. Vistas of glistening paddy fields, tea-clad hills and the distant Indian Ocean are revealed: your immersion into nature is complete.

We stayed in Villa 113, the closest to the main restaurant pavilion, delighting in lantern-lit evening cocktails on our terrace as the sun set over Weligama Bay.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Coffee maker
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Plunge pool
  • Safe box
  • Terrace
  • WiFi

Eating

Big breakfasts of Mediterranean or Sri Lankan favourites are the perfect way to start the day. We tore merrily into egg hoppers — rice flour pancakes with fried eggs at their centre — accompanied by vegetable curries and fresh fruit.

Lunches, dinners and punchy cocktails — we loved the passion fruit margaritas — can be savoured in the candlelit Hill House or on your private terrace. Dishes feature vegetables and herbs grown in the hotel’s gardens, as well as freshly caught seafood from Weligama’s fishermen. We feasted on flavoursome tuna carpaccio, sticky aubergine salad and beetroot-three-ways, rounded off with a delectable panna cotta.

For foodies, a Sri Lankan cooking class with chef Roshini or chef Charitha is a hands-down highlight. We made our own roasted curry powder, fragrant fish curry in mustard sauce and moreish brinjal pickle, all with a view of the ocean. Devouring our creations with a cold glass of wine at lunchtime was a real treat.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Coffee maker
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Guided biodiversity tours of the hotel grounds yield everything from black-hooded orioles to endangered purple-faced leaf monkeys. Keep an eye out for the elusive Malabar Hornbill, for which the hotel was named
  • Take a chef-led Sri Lankan cooking class, before enjoying the fruits of your labour at lunch
  • Cycle along paths through the surrounding paddy fields, spotting parading peacocks and blue kingfishers
  • Private yoga, pilates and meditation classes can be arranged — just ask
  • Discover cinnamon production at Top House, or delve into the island’s tea industry at Handunugoda Estate
  • Keen culture buffs can journey 40 minutes to explore UNESCO-listed Galle Fort, whilst the elephants, birds and leopards of Yala National Park are 2.5 hours away

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Cooking classes
  • Cycling
  • Historical sites
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Private guided tours
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Well being
  • Whale watching
  • Wildlife
  • Yoga

Kids

With a focus on sophisticated serenity, the hotel welcomes guests above the age of 12. The villas’ infinity pools are too shallow for diving and there’s a dramatic drop on two sides, so parents may need to keep an eye on dare-devil teens.

That said, teenagers will love the big shared swimming pool and the nearby games area. Cycle rides, safaris and cookery classes could be a huge hit.

Best for:

Teens (over 12)

Kid Friendly:

Location

Malabar Hill is set between the expressway and popular crescent-shaped Weligama Bay, on Sri Lanka's south coast.

By Air:
Colombo’s Bandaranaike International Airport is the island’s main international hub and is served by flights from Europe, the Middle East and elsewhere in Asia. Swift and straightforward, travel from the airport takes just over 2 hours by car on the island’s one highway, and staff can arrange transfers.

By Car:
It you want to hire a car and driver for your entire trip, enquire through our Tailormade Tour Operator. Otherwise, drivers and tuk-tuks can be arranged for day trips and local journeys.

Detailed directions will be provided when you confirm a booking through i-escape.

More on getting to Sri Lanka and getting around

Airports:

  • Bandaranaike International Airport 171.0 km CMB

Other:

  • Beach 4.0 km
  • Shops 4.0 km
  • Restaurant 4.0 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 1 independent review from i-escape guests

10/10
Room
10/10
Food
10/10
Service
10/10
Value
10/10
Overall

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