Santani Wellness Resort

Near Kandy, Kandy & Hill Country, Sri Lanka Book from Book from £296 per night

A stunningly minimalist mountain retreat in the Kandy countryside that delivers big on spa facilities, cuisine and epic panoramas
If you’re looking for the perfect sanctuary where you can escape the stresses of everyday life, Santani is the place for you. Looking out from its treetop balconies in the lush Sri Lankan hilltops, time itself seems to hold its breath. Panoramic views unfold across a forested river valley, and on the horizons, an endless game of hide and seek plays out between the mountain peaks and the swirling clouds. Indeed, calling Santani a sanctuary isn't going far enough: it's a refuelling station for the soul. The 20 striking chalets are purposefully minimal, the architecture modernist, the setting free of unnecessary clutter. It's all about inner focus. With meals included and no distractions, a few days here will make you feel refreshed, revitalised and ready for anything.

Still, it’s not just the setting that takes the breath away. This is a first-rate wellness destination with world-beating facilities. The tri-level spa, which appears to be carved out of a hillside, has an open-fronted design (inspired by the region’s monastic cave dwellings) that houses an impressive array of international therapies (like deep tissue and lomi lomi massages) and Ayurveda treatments by a resident doctor. Free sunrise and sunset group yoga, use of the sauna, steam room and thermal salt bath are also included in your stay, and the thoughtfully curated cuisine – based on the ancient yet au courant concept of '6 tastes' – aims to nourish from the inside out. With time on your side, take a meditative walk through the surrounding countryside, then follow with a brisk swim in the local river – it will enhance your wellbeing like never before.

Highs

  • The dramatic mountain setting lets nature nurture your ruffled feathers, and is very calming
  • It’s peaceful without being overly quiet – fall asleep to chirruping crickets and frogs, then wake to vibrant birdsong
  • We loved the spa, its hydrotherapy facilities and the gentle healing hands of our Keralan therapist
  • The food is exceptional – nutritionally balanced yet gourmet at the same time
  • No children under 12 - so no distractions

Lows

  • Don’t come for two nights expecting a quick jaunt out to Kandy – it takes an hour to get there
  • The rooms aren't soundproofed (the focus is on having natural ventilation), so you can hear your neighbours if they're chatty. However, it's serenely quiet by 11pm or earlier
  • Expect a few leeches while walking the local trails
  • The hush-hush atmosphere won’t suit everyone – leisure guests are just as welcome as wellness guests, but this is a 'WiFi optional' resort, and WiFi is only available in your room on request

Best time to go

Weatherwise, Kandy is generally fine throughout the year, although showers can arrive unexpectedly due to the peculiar micro-climate. It's wettest in May, October and November.

Our top tips

Stash your smartphone in your room and don’t look at it until you leave. The opportunity to unwind in tranquil surroundings should be cherished. Instead, pack your yoga gear, and bring plenty of books for evening reading on the balcony.

Great for...

Foodie
Great Outdoors
Spa
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 20
  • Full Board
  • 12+ year olds only
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Bicycles Available
Room:

Rooms

Simplicity is key here. The cabin-like rooms are furnished with the barest essentials: comfortable kingsize beds wrapped in mosquito netting, timber framed armchairs, cupboards (with drawers for your suitcases) and open plan bathrooms with walk-in rain showers. The mixture of grey cement, off-white furnishings, glass and timber add to the minimalist aesthetic, while the air con (which isn’t needed) is eschewed for natural ventilation and ceiling fans.

The 16 Mountain View Chalets jut out from a steep grassy hillside and feel like modernist treehouses. Their obvious draw is the panoramic views across the valley which you can survey from bed, or from a floating balcony furnished with deck chairs.

A further 4 Garden View Chalets are located in a secluded grove and conceived for families, since each pair of rooms share a living area. These rooms have traditional bathrooms as opposed to the open layout of the Mountain View Chalets.

Features include:

  • Bathrobes
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Mosquito net
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

Santani follows the Ayurvedic principle of ‘six tastes’ (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent) which serves to harmonise food cravings by ensuring a balanced nutrition in all meals. Dishes tend to be light on carbohydrates yet still very appealing, so even after a gourmet 4-course dinner you’re not left feeling uncomfortably full. The restaurant sits on the first floor of a light-bathed, glass-framed modernist building that surveys the valley and hills.

Note, the resort has no menus. Instead, the chefs share the day’s lunch and dinner choices with the guests. These meals are flexible – dietary and personal preferences are taken into account while those staying on wellness packages will have meals curated for them. Breakfasts include tropical fruit, vegetable and fruit juices, granola, and eggs cooked any way. Lunch might be a vegetable soup followed by grilled tuna with couscous and greens, and a pudding of rhubarb crumble. Sri Lankan curry is always an option, too.

Features include:

  • All meals included
  • Bar
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Minibar/fridge
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Make a beeline for the spa – treatments range from massages, scrubs and wraps to Ayurvedic treatments by Keralan therapists.
  • You can also indulge in the hydrotherapy facilities – a thermal pool, steam room and sauna – and join one of the twice-daily yoga classes (or book a one-on-one session with a visiting master).
  • Included in your stay is a 2-hour guided nature walk down to the Hulu River for a refreshing dip in its clear waters, or you can trek a little further to the Hanging Bridge of Narampanawa and visit a Buddhist temple.
  • Float in the free-form outdoor pool, meditate on the hillside, or practice yoga anywhere on the resort.
  • Visit a handloom workshop or watch the intricate goings-on at a local tea factory.

    Activities on site or nearby include:

    • Hiking
    • Historical sites
    • Swimming
    • Trekking
    • Well being
    • Yoga

Kids

No children under 12 are allowed due to the tranquil nature of the resort. Families with older children are welcome, though independent children able to appreciate the quiet surroundings are best suited.

Best for:

Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Families are offered the Garden View Chalets which have 2 pairs of rooms connected by a central passageway. The rooms are airy and shady, and offer a degree of privacy and isolation, but lack the views of the Mountain View Chalets.

Kid Friendly:

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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