Maya Tangalle

Near Tangalle, Tangalle & South Coast, Sri Lanka
Book from GBP Book from £433 per night

Maya Tangalle

Near Tangalle, Tangalle & South Coast, Sri Lanka

A stylish small hotel wrapped in bird-filled gardens and picturesque paddy fields, just inland from Tangalle and its beaches

A stylish small hotel wrapped in bird-filled gardens and picturesque paddy fields, just inland from Tangalle and its beaches

Like so many of Sri Lanka’s ancestral abodes, Maya was rescued from ruin in the noughties by a part-foreign, part-Lankan team. In this case it was the local architect Pradeep Kodikara and New-York-born designer Niki Fairchild: a winning duo. Pradeep masterfully fused a new wing with the older building under a single roof, while Niki refurbished the 19th-century manor house interiors and added a stunning L-shaped pool. Fast forward two decades and the boutique hotel was re-born, post covid, with new owners and a smart facelift courtesy of Channa Daswatta, friend and assistant to the ubiquitous Geoffrey Bawa, Sri Lanka’s most iconic architect.

The result is a calm yet striking take on colonial style, with 5 contemporary rooms available individually or together as a staffed villa for 10-15. Enveloping the house is a magical 2-acre garden, home to melodious armies of exotic birds, and this setting entices couples, families and nature lovers alike. Unspoilt Aranwella immerses the hotel in tranquility; borrow bicycles to peddle around this sleepy little village, or take a tuk-tuk to the south coast’s beautiful beaches, 8km away. But Maya’s star attraction is the mesmerising sea of paddy fields rolling out beyond its emerald lawns. Their colours change chameleon-like according to the season, and provide a stunning backdrop to lazy alfresco meals - some of the tastiest we’ve come across in Tangalle.

Highs

  • A very private, pampering retreat: wonderful secluded gardens and pool, plus a masseur and yoga teacher on call
  • Spacious rooms, all with verandas or courtyards; some have romantic four-poster beds, too
  • A new 'executive master chef', whose repertoire ranges from full English breakfasts to local rice and curry
  • Abundant wildlife - hornbills, parakeets and electric-blue kingfishers chatter in trees, and pompous peacocks pace the lawn
  • Beautiful sunsets over the paddy fields, best paired with a speciality arrack sour. Lie back in a hammock to watch the drama unfold

Lows

  • We have not visited since the new team took over, but early guest feedback looks promising
  • Prices are somewhat punchy
  • The nearest beach and restaurants are 15 minutes away, but transport is easily arranged
  • The lush garden attracts insects, especially after rain: wear repellent at dawn and dusk
  • No twin-bedded rooms

Best time to go

December to April are the sunniest and driest months, with December to February proving particularly popular. May and June are the region’s wettest months, with October and November a close second. The paddy fields in front of the hotel change from season to season, but if you long for a lush pea-green scene, you’ll need to visit in December, January, June or July.

Our top tips

Twitchers can borrow binoculars and birding books to spot the amazing array of birdlife that visits the garden, but if catching it on film is important then bring a good telephoto lens. This will also come in handy for snapping wildlife at the safari parks in the area.

You might hear local dogs barking at night; bring earplugs if you're a light sleeper!

Great for...

Family
Foodie
Romantic
Spa
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 5 bedrooms
  • Breakfast (+ other meals on request)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • Beach Nearby
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Car not necessary
  • Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • WiFi
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
  • Bicycles Available
  • Butler service
  • Games equipment
  • Boogie boards
Room:

Rooms

Maya’s 5 spacious bedrooms are divided between the old house and a new wing that faces it across the swimming pool. Expect soaring eaves, polished wooden floors and a mix of old and new furnishings; plus, in the suites, a vintage rug or perhaps a slipper tub. Every room comes with a kingsize bed, a veranda with chairs, and an ensuite shower room finished with white marble floors.

The 3 Deluxes are extremely spacious for an entry-level room: around 50 sq.m. in all. We like their white floors and airy ceilings (with both fan and A/C), plus generous louvred wardrobes and sliding windows to private patios. The Deluxe King is actually a little smaller, but with a four-poster bed in Burmese teak, and prettier views. Top of the pile is of course the Presidential Suite, a vast space with an open-plan bedroom-living-working space, a dining room for four, a private courtyard and a bathroom 'suite' with separate shower room and slipper tub.

Features include:

  • Bathrobes
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • In-room treatments available
  • Mosquito net
  • WiFi

Eating

We haven't yet had the pleasure of dining here since the new chef arrived, but by all accounts the cuisine is "out of this world" - and matched by "phenomenal" service. So we're looking forward to verifying this! Certainly, the setting is divine: you can choose to dine in the old house’s vaulted dining room, poolside in the new wing pavilion with paddy-field views, or in the privacy of your courtyard.

Hearty breakfasts start with a choice of Sri Lankan apas (bowl-shaped rice flour pancakes) with seeni sambol (red onion chutney) or filling Full Englishes with all the trimmings. This is followed by tropical fruit, cereal, creamy buffalo curd and kithu (palm sugar) treacle - a wonderful local speciality. Fresh bread is made in-house.

Lunches and dinners are three-course leisurely daily changing set menu affairs served when and where you want. The fusion food mixes Asian influences with western dishes, so perhaps chicken lemongrass skewers, zesty crab salad with a zingy ginger dressing, prawn tempura and fish curry with okra. Vegetarian options are always available - just ask. You can BYO alcohol with you to dinner, there's no corkage fee but you might need to bring the receipt for proof of purchase.

Maya is a 15-minute drive from the beaches of Tangalle, which is where you’ll find the best options for eating out; staff can arrange transport.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Kids' meals
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Organic produce
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian options
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Top up your tan by the pool, lounge in a hammock, or kick back on the veranda with a book

  • Be pampered by the masseur, or take your relaxation further by booking a session of yoga or tai chi with a visiting instructor in the Garden Pavilion

  • Watch the abundant birdlife in the villa’s garden. There are binoculars and birding books to borrow

  • Challenge the staff to a game of cricket on the lawn, or enjoy a leisurely session of croquet, volleyball, badminton or petanque (equipment is provided)

  • Learn the secrets of Maya's chef during a cooking lesson (available by arrangement from May to November)

  • Borrow a bicycle and head off to explore Aranwella and its hinterland - make your first stop the Buddhist temple next door. Villa staff can guide you around the area and pack up picnics if required

  • Head to the coast (staff can arrange transport) 15 minutes away to spend a day on one of the beaches; Silent Beach, Mawella, Palm Paradise and Seenimodara are some of the prettiest. Afterwards, travel back to Maya via the market in Tangalle

  • Travel 15 minutes to the north to marvel at Mulgirigala Rock Temple, a Buddhist temple perched 210m above the surrounding forest. The 360-degree views from its peak are sublime

  • Head to Rekawa Beach to wait for egg-laying marine turtles to come ashore. Combine this after-dark treat with dinner at nearby hotel Buckingham Place

  • Take off on a half-day trip to seek out wildlife in one of the region’s national parks - Yala, Uda Walawe and Bundala. You might spot leopards, elephants, monkeys and bears

  • Brave a crack-of-dawn wake up to go whale-watching off the shores of Mirissa, an hour up the road. It’s well worth the early start for the potential sightings of blue whales, sperm whales and acrobatic spinner dolphins (best from December to April)

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Boat trips
  • Cooking classes
  • Cycling
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Private guided tours
  • Safaris
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming
  • Tai Chi
  • Traditional cultures
  • Well being
  • Whale watching
  • Wildlife
  • Yoga

Kids

Although the hotel wasn’t designed with kids in mind, children of all ages are welcome and will adore having the run of the 2-acre garden. It’s big enough to kick a ball, and there are plenty of spots for playing hide and seek. That said, the atmosphere is very tranquil, and children could be disruptive to guests staying for wellness purposes; we advise staying during school holidays when there's a more family-friendly vibe. when we visited, the staff were great at keeping our kids engaged, arranging family-friendly films and even a kite-making class! For a bit of excitement there’s nothing like a tuk-tuk ride to the beach to go boogie boarding.

Best for:

Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

Travel cots are available, and extra single beds (free for children under 6) can be added to all rooms.

Cots Available, Extra Beds Available

Babysitting:

Babysitting is available by prior arrangement.

Baby equipment:

  • Baby cots
  • High chairs

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

Children's meals:

Maya’s chef can whip up special meals for children on request

Kids Activities on site:

  • Petanque
  • Volleyball
  • Cricket
  • Badminton
  • Board games
  • DVDs
  • Bicycles

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Beach and boogie boarding (boards are available to borrow)
  • Whale-watching
  • Turtle-watching
  • Trips to safari parks

Families Should Know:

The pool is unfenced, and many rooms open straight out onto the pool terrace, so keep a close eye on mobile toddlers

Kid Friendly:

Location

Maya is 8km inland from the coastal town of Tangalle, in southern Sri Lanka. It’s set in the rural village of Aranwella, a 3-hour drive (or a 45-minute flight) from the capital Colombo.

By Air:
Fly into Colombo Bandaranaike International (230km away).

From the Airport
The hotel can arrange road transfers from Colombo, or you can take the speedy Cinnamon Air or SriLankan Airline's air taxi service to Dikwella Lagoon (15 minutes from Maya). Maya staff can meet you at Dikwella.

By Bus:
You can catch a direct bus from Colombo to Tangalle (15 minutes from the hotel) or to Matara (an hour from the hotel). From there you can finish the rest of the journey by tuk-tuk, or arrange for staff to pick you up.

By Car:
If you want to hire a driver and car for your whole holiday, enquire through our Tailormade Tour Operator; they can collect you at the airport when you land, drive you down to Maya, then drive you to your onward destination after your stay. Drivers can be accommodated at a local hotel nearby.

Detailed directions will be sent when you book through i-escape.

Airports:

  • Colombo Bandaranaike International 230.0 km CMB

Other:

  • Beach 8.0 km
  • Shops 8.0 km
  • Restaurant 8.0 km

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