Mawella Hideaways

Mawella, Tangalle & South Coast, Sri Lanka
Book from Book from £82 per night

Three relaxing hideaways (for 2-4) around a shared pool near Tangalle, with stylish interiors and staff to cook, clean and shop

On Sri Lanka’s beautiful south coast, near the market town of Tangalle, three enchanting hideaways await. You’ll find them nestled within verdant tropical foliage at the western end of the sweeping 2km curve of Mawella Beach, set around a shimmering pool. Here you can chill on a sunlounger, shade in the pool house, or wander through your homely hideaway's garden gate and down to the beach, where a plethora of colourful fishing boats lay poised for action. Aside from short periods at dawn and dusk when the boats come and go, the beach is blissfully quiet. Expect a few fishermen hard at work mending their nets, which lay in giant coils at their feet, and little else.

The three comfortable hideaways, each a former fisherman’s house, are nestled between the headland and the breakwater, which creates calm waters for leisurely swims. Each has 1 or 2 bedrooms, an airy living and dining space, and a basic kitchen for self-catering (a cooking team is available, shared between the hideaways). Though their layouts vary they all brandish the same minimalist, monochrome interiors.

Escapist couples and adventurous families with older children will cherish the seclusion of these laid-back localities. Rock-top temples, hidden coves and turtle sanctuaries all lie within easy reach.

Highs

  • We loved the privacy and barefoot informality of the simple hideaways
  • Mawella Beach (just steps away) has a breakwater to reduce waves and help fishermen land their boats, so the sea is shallow and good for swimming. There's also a pool beckoning within the gardens
  • Waking up at dawn to watch fishermen hauling in their catch
  • The staff are extremely helpful and friendly, the food delicious, and the housekeepers are always on hand should you need anything
  • The air charter/taxi service from Colombo lands on the nearby lagoon, so it’s easy to reach (500m)

Lows

  • No bar, but you can BYO at no charge or ask the team to purchase it on your behalf
  • Restaurants are a beach walk or tuk-tuk ride away
  • Nature often finds its way indoors, so don’t be surprised to come across an insect or two – particularly in Kumbuk, which is set a little further inland
  • Full pre-payment is required by bank transfer only

Best time to go

November to April are considered the best months in this part of Sri Lanka, both for their hours of sunshine and for their calm seas. Temperatures hover around 29C throughout the year, but heavy rain usually falls in May/June and September/October.

Our top tips

Be sure to bring your own books, digital entertainment and toiletries (including insect repellent).

Great for...

Beach
Family
Great Outdoors
Romantic
  • Beach Villas
  • 3 houses for 2-4
  • Self-catering (+ cook)
  • All ages welcome; best for older kids
  • 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
  • Laundry Service
  • Housekeeper
  • Bats, balls and body boards to borrow
Room: Kahumba

Rooms


Kotamba & Kahumba: 1-bedroom beachfront hideaways
Sharing the same simple yet chic décor and facilities, these 2 hideaways sit in leafy surroundings on either side of a private strip of grassy garden (owned by the owners) facing onto Mawella Beach and the sea beyond. They have four-poster beds wrapped in mosquito netting, big ensuite shower rooms and living rooms with oversized daybeds made from local kithul wood. Doors and windows open onto wraparound verandas; monochrome photographs of local life set the scene (we loved the portrait of a wizened old fisherman in Kahumba’s bathroom).

Kotamba is a renovated fisherman’s house, enjoying the longest stretch of beachfront. Kahumba was built from the ruins of an old house and features a lovely open-air shower, plus a guest bathroom and an alfresco table under its namesake tree.

Kumbuk: 2-bedroom coastal hideaway
Kumbuk is set a little further back, just behind Kahumba Hideaway. It has 2 bedrooms (a double and a twin) and a larger garden to compensate. The setting offers a greater sense of privacy while still being within strolling distance of the beach (20 metres away).

Features include:

  • Family friendly
  • Fan
  • Mosquito net
  • Terrace
  • WiFi

Eating

The hideaways have simple kitchens equipped with fridges, stoves, kettles and toasters, plus the option of a cook if you so wish. Eat in your hideaway or in the pool house dining area. Chat with the cooking team each morning about what you’d like and they’ll do the rest; you just pay retail prices for the ingredients. Staff can shop on your behalf – useful if you want to order mixers for drinks, midnight snacks, or specific items such as cereal.

If you do have a cook, meals tend to emphasise local cuisine. For breakfast you might try string hoppers with creamy curries and sambols, or go continental with bread sourced from the local musical tuk-tuk; we would highly recommend the delicious buffalo curd, too. Lunches are light affairs such as salad Niçoise (the fresh local tuna is fabulous), while dinner options might include barbecues, grilled fish or a Sri Lankan curry spread. We dined by candlelight on Kotamba’s terrace and ate spicy chicken cooked in a clay pot, along with deliciously herby aubergines.

Features include:

  • Barbecue
  • Children's meals
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Family friendly
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hob or stove
  • In house cook
  • Oven
  • Shopping service
  • Toaster
Eating: Kumbuk
Activity:

Activities

  • The main Mawella Beach just steps away, is ideal for walking, jogging and swimming (the sand shelves slowly into the sea)
  • Simply chill out by the large pool. It's shared between guests and has a pool house with shaded sofas for reading and relaxing, plus a kitchen for preparing poolside meals and snacks
  • Unakuruwa Beach has reef breaks for surfers; if you want to take lessons, Bandula's Surf School will pick you up and take you to the best beaches for your ability level, but be sure to book early as he is very popular!
  • Keen photographers will love the Mawella Beach fishing scene; dawn is usually a hotbed of activity. Staff can arrange for you to head out to fish with one of the boats (cost negotiable with the fishermen)
  • Thai-style massages can be arranged in the privacy of your hideaway (request in advance)
  • Take a tuk-tuk to Tangalle, whose bustling harbour and markets offer an insight into local life
  • Observe marine turtles hatching and laying eggs at the Rekawa Turtle Sanctuary
  • Hike to the top of Mulkirigala, a sacred Buddhist rock temple, to admire the cave murals and stunning 360-degree views.

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Boat trips
  • Body boarding
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Shopping / markets
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Traditional cultures
  • Well being
  • Wildlife

Kids

The hideways are great for free-range families. Children of all ages will enjoy Mawella Beach (there's no life guard) and the bats, balls and bodyboards, and the anchorage beach is virtually wave-free for safe swimming. There's also a large shared pool (unheated) complete with a pool house - perfect for shade and comfort.

Best for:

Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Kumbuk hideaway has 2 bedrooms (a double and a twin) and a fenced garden; it's tucked 20 metres back from Mawella Beach for added privacy (just behind Kahumba). The other 2 hideaways are beachfront, with one double bedroom each, plus 2 daybeds in their living rooms. Note that Kahumba has a guest bathroom and larger living area. A baby cot is available if requested in advance.

Babysitting:

English-speaking childcare can be arranged with advance notice.

Baby equipment:

  • Baby cot
  • Booster seat

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

Children's meals:

The cooks can tailor meals (and spice levels) to young taste buds, and the kitchens are handy for whipping up kids' snacks.

Kids Activities on site:

  • Large pool and pool house
  • Four boogie boards
  • Bats
  • Footballs
  • Board games

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Mawella Beach is excellent for swimming
  • Yala National Park (100km) for leopard, elephant, fish eagles
  • Seasonal turtle hatching (Rekewa 20km has 5 endangered species)
  • Udawalawe National Park (65km)
  • Kalametiya bird sanctuary, go bird watching via boat across fresh water lagoons
  • Whale watching excursions from either Mirissa (40km) or Dondra (22km), December - April

    Families Should Know:

    The gardens are fenced, but the proximity of the sea means it's not best suited to toddlers, and you'll need to keep an eye on youngsters in general as there may be currents. The pool is unfenced and is 1.4 metres deep with no shallow end.

  • Distances:

    • Airport: 2.5-3 hours (Colombo)
    • Hospital: 15 minutes (Tangalle)
    • Shops: 15 minutes (Tangalle)
    Kid Friendly:

    Location

    The hideways are located at the western end of Mawella Beach, between Dickwella and Tangalle, in southern Sri Lanka.

    By Air:
    Most guests arrive via Colombo Bandaranaike (215km away) and then take the air charter service to Mawella Lagoon, just 500m from the bungalows. Alternatively, staff can arrange transfers from the capital's airport in a comfortable minivan (a 2-3 hour drive).

    By Train:
    You can take the slow but scenic train from Colombo to Matara (30 minutes away), where staff can arrange for a taxi to meet you.

    By Car:
    It you want to hire a car and driver for your entire trip, enquire through our Tailormade Tour Operator. Otherwise, the bungalow staff can arrange cars, drivers and tuk-tuks 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:

    • Colombo Bandaranaike International 215.0 km CMB

    Other:

    • Beach 0.1 km
    • Shops 1.0 km
    • Restaurant 6.0 km

    Our guests' ratings...

    Based on 3 independent reviews from i-escape guests

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

    The location was great and each of the hideaways spitting distance from the sea, whilst retaining some privacy. The pool house is really wonderful and where food is served. Staff were amazing, very attentive and willing to help in every way possible. The food was a real highlight and every meal was delicious. A walk along Mawella beach is a real highlight with different places for drinks/food. Loads of other beaches nearby to explore too if you want to leave the immediate area, although lots to do on the door step! Everything is a tuk tuk ride away. We would love to return!

    10/10,

    What a spectacular place! We were there for 4 days and didn’t want to leave! We loved every bit of the beautifully designed houses that you could lounge around in for days on end, the pool and pool house… and then there is the food which is simply amazing: It’s the freshest and best Sri Lankan food we had an all our trip! The Hideaways team is lovely and take care of you very well! We will definitely come back!

    10/10,

    We absolutely loved our stay at Mawella hideaways. Mawella, is a true hidden gem. What a stunning beach and the hideaways complement the environment perfectly. The food cooked for us daily, with fresh ingredients, was some of the best curry we have ever eaten and the friendly staff went out of their way to make us welcome. We were travelling with our 10 month old and the staff loved him and cooked for him too. They provided a mosquito net for his cot as well, which was very helpful. As an aside, there is no air conditioning at Mawella hideaways, which we did know before arrival, and our son was ok with the heat (it was 29 degrees in the bedroom) but young babies might struggle with the heat in the peak of summer. It was also great to stay in the Hideway with a separate toilet, so we did not have to disturb our son once he was asleep. We really enjoyed the privacy, relaxing environment and the living space that the hideaways provided. The pool and pool house are really lovely too.

    9/10,

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