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.
- 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
- 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
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
- Boutique Hotel
- 14 villas
- Restaurant and bar (open daily)
- Over 12s only
- Open all year
- Outdoor Pool
- Spa Treatments
- Beach Nearby
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Car not necessary
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
- Concierge Service
- Bicycles Available
- Laundry service
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.
- Safe box
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.
- Coffee / tea making
- Coffee maker
- Room service
- Vegetarian options
- 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:
- Cooking classes
- Historical sites
- Well being
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.
Teens (over 12)
Malabar Hill is set between the expressway and popular crescent-shaped Weligama Bay, on Sri Lanka's south coast.
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.
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
- Bandaranaike International Airport 171.0 km CMB
- Beach 4.0 km
- Shops 4.0 km
- Restaurant 4.0 km