Reef Sri Lanka

Wadduwa, Bentota, Sri Lanka
Book from GBP Book from £289 per night

Reef Sri Lanka

Wadduwa, Bentota, Sri Lanka

Romantic, tropical hotel filled with original colonial antiques, set on a stunning beach on Sri Lanka’s southwest coast

Romantic, tropical hotel filled with original colonial antiques, set on a stunning beach on Sri Lanka’s southwest coast

Husband-and-wife team Brendan and Bernadette pooled their skills as architect and designer to create this stylish hotel on a beautiful section of Sri Lanka’s coastline. Set amid lily ponds and fringed by an exotic garden of frangipani and hibiscus, it has a calming view onto the Indian Ocean, only interrupted by swaying coconut trees.

Self-confessed antique hunters, the owners filled Reef with their Sri Lankan and Southern Indian collection, showcasing the opulence of the colonial era with heavy carved doors, deep verandas and cool marble floors. The 7 high-ceilinged suites pair traditional colonialism with modern, comfortable fittings - intricate four-poster beds dating back to 1850 (when they were built for the British Raj) are now dressed in 400-thread count sheets. In the lavish bathrooms, huge granite tubs gleam like modernist sculptures.

Outside, the cerulean pool beckons beside the thatched pavilion that houses the restaurant. Reserve evenings for a seafood dinner under a canopy of stars: this is a routine you won’t tire of.


  • Fabulous food with an emphasis on seafood: think lobster thermidor, crab ravioli, grilled fish and prawn curry
  • Indulgent champagne bar and good wine list
  • Vast suites with sumptuous bathrooms; some have their rain shower in a leafy outdoor garden
  • Polite, happy and attentive staff with good conversational English, who can't do enough for you


  • During monsoon season there are strong undercurrents in the sea, so it's not safe to swim during May-July
  • No good restaurants or shops within walking distance, so if you want a change of scene, you'll need to take a tuk-tuk
  • Rumblings of trains from behind the hotel are audible, although not enough to be a major disturbance

Best time to go

The hotel is open year round. The finest weather on the west coast runs from November through to April. During this time days are warm with temperatures rising to a daily maximum of 30°C. Evenings remain balmy. From May to July, the southwest monsoon brings rains to the west and southwest coastal region. August and September are drier months. In October and November, the northeast monsoon brings intermittent rain but the cooler, drier winds herald the start of the winter's calm seas.

Our top tips

  • This hotel is a lovely place to chill out, perhaps at the end of a holiday after travelling around the country first
  • Great for...

    • Boutique Hotel
    • 7 rooms
    • Restaurant and bar (open daily)
    • 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
    • Tennis Court


    The 7 suites, named after Sri Lankan flowers, share a wonderful sense of grandeur and comfort. Beautiful writing desks, tables, chairs and other antiques fill each room. Our four-poster bed had beautiful carved legs and was perfectly soft, and the louvered doors kept the morning sun at bay.

    All suites are large (100-120 sq.m) and have cool, tiled flooring. High ceilings show off Keralan roof tiles; below these hang enormous pankah fans with elaborate pulleys, as well as 1920’s rotating fans. You get modern additions, too, like air con and a dedicated app that you can download for hotel updates and activity recommendations.

    In the modern bathrooms, polished granite is prominent - you could practically swim in the vast tubs. Double sinks stand on a wooden slab in front of a huge Venetian-style mirror and a curve of stone hides your rain shower; some suites have their showers in a small garden. Ayurvedic toiletries include lime and lavender handmade soaps.

    Manel and Nelum, on the first floor of the main house, are the biggest and most expensive suites, with sea views and a refreshing breeze. Nelum has a balcony which overlooks the pond and is a good place for spotting birds. Manel’s shower is in a tiny garden at the rear. Olu is the smallest suite and has a Zen view of lily ponds, stepping stones and manicured foliage. It also has an adorable leaf-shaped jacuzzi set in a walled garden, and an outdoor shower.

    The Ocean Suites, Namal, Sepalika, Sapumal and Kekatiya, have lovely sea views, and shady verandas enclosed by exotic plants. Each has an outdoor garden shower as well as a traditional Indian swing covered in cushions - perfect for afternoon naps. Being on ground level, however, means they are not so private.

    Features include:

    • Bathrobes
    • Fan
    • Hairdryer
    • Minibar
    • Mosquito net
    • Safe box
    • WiFi


    We ate breakfast by the pool, in the shade of a coconut tree. There is a small thatched restaurant but staff are happy to arrange a table outside, so you get better views. We loved our beautifully arranged fruit platter and silver pot of tea. You should also try the delicious curd and local kithul honey. Also included is a surprisingly authentic English breakfast or a Sri Lankan breakfast: roti or string hoppers with egg and potato curry plus sambal and the obligatory dhal.

    The lunch menu offers a selection of sandwiches like BLT, or some lovely fresh pasta dishes, such as pumpkin ravioli. There are some tasty salads to choose from including a fresh chicken and papaya mix. Afternoon tea is either a homemade banana or coconut cake, or the full works: a cake stand filled with tiny cucumber sandwiches, fresh scones and cakes, plus a huge choice of teas.

    Evenings are romantic: the garden is lit up with clay lanterns and the waves act as background music. Courses follow each other fairly swiftly, but the food is fantastic. Starters are marine inspired; perhaps avocado and prawn salad, seafood bisque or fish brochette. For mains, we recommend the fabulous lobster ravioli, or a whole fresh fish served with lime slices, vegetables and sweet potato puree - note, the hotel does not serve red meat. Make sure you leave room for the cardamom and coffee pudding; delicious.

    The wine list is predominantly upmarket French (Chablis, Pouilly Fuisse, Chateauneuf-du-pape and Medoc). And there's an impressive selection of bubbles at the champagne bar, including Laurent Perrier and Moet & Chandon.

    If you prefer, meals can be served in your suite, and there's a room service menu (last orders 11pm). Choices include omelette, chicken burger and garden salad.

    Features include:

    • Bar
    • Coffee / tea making
    • Kids' meals
    • Organic produce
    • Restaurant
    • Room service
    • Vegetarian options


    • Relax on a lounger by the pool with a complimentary mango sorbet, or stroll along the beach

    • Take the hotel's tuk-tuk and driver to the 300-year-old Maha Vihara temple in Wadduwa, (15 mins' drive) and examine the relief sculptures of Lord Buddha

    • Visit the atmospheric 125-year-old mansion Richmond Castle, (20 mins by tuk-tuk), to appreciate this fine example of British and Indian colonial architecture. See if you can spot the picture of the Queen Mother as a young girl in the gallery

    • Head to tourist enclave Bentota, where the hotel can arrange a meandering boat trip through the thick mangrove swamps. Spot aquatic birds such as herons and kingfishers

    • Arrange the ultimate in luxury - a bath drawn for you by staff, scented with aromatic herbal oil and decorated with petals

    Activities on site or nearby include:

    • Birdwatching
    • Boat trips
    • Historical sites
    • Museums / galleries
    • Plantlife / flora
    • Private guided tours
    • Swimming
    • Table tennis
    • Tennis
    • Yoga


    The hotel welcomes well-behaved children. There's lots of space to explore, and the grounds include a large aviary with eclectus parrots, cockatiels, and love birds. For journeys, the hotel can provide a baby carseat.

    Best for:

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

    Family friendly accommodation:

    Interconnecting (through the dressing rooms) Ocean Suites - Namal and Sepalika - are ideal for a family; while Manel and Nelum are opposite each other. All suites except Olu Suite can fit at least 1 additional single bed, while most can fit 3.

    Cots Available, Extra Beds Available


    On request

    Baby equipment:

    3 baby cots (request in advance)

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

    Children's meals:

    The restaurant has a children's menu, children's cutlery and a highchair.

    Kids Activities on site:

    • 2 children's pools
    • croquet and board games
    • table tennis
    • volleyball
    • tennis

    Kid Friendly:


    Reef Sri Lanka is set in 3 acres of exotic gardens and lily ponds, facing a gorgeous stretch of beach on the edge of Wadduwa village, which is on Sri Lanka’s southwest coast. The nearest towns are Panadura or Kalutara. Wadduwa is an hour south of Colombo (2 hours from the airport), and 30km north of Bentota.

    By Air
    Flights arrive at Sri Lanka's only international airport, which is north of Colombo, approximately 2 hours from Reef Sri Lanka. The hotel can arrange a pick up to bring you directly to the hotel, or you could take a taxi.

    By Train/Car
    If you'd prefer to be independent, the train from Colombo runs all the way down the south coast to Galle. Get off at Wadduwa station, a 5-minute walk from the hotel. You might want to hire a car and driver if you are thinking of exploring more of Sri Lanka, and you can do this through our Tailormade Tour Operator. This hotel does not offer drivers' accommodation.

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


    • Bandaranaike Internatiponal Airport (aka Katunayake International Airport and Colombo International Airport) 58.0 km CMB


    • Beach 0.1 km
    • Shops 0.2 km
    • Restaurant 4.0 km

    Rates for Reef Sri Lanka

    Arriving on: