Tabula Rasa Villa Hotel

Habaraduwa, Galle & Environs, Sri Lanka Book from Book from £456 per night

A peaceful, convivial small hotel carved out of a refurbished antique house, 10 minutes from beaches, 20 minutes from Galle
Within moments of our arrival, we felt completely at home in this sensitively converted century-old villa, set in a rural village just inland from Galle. The 4 rooms are booked independently but there’s a convivial feel to the shared living and dining areas, which spill onto a breezy sofa-clad veranda that was once the villa’s entrance porch. Beyond is a sunny pool, which sits amidst a lush walled garden, home to peacocks, exotic birds and monkeys.

Dutch owners Arnaud and Anouk converted and extended the house in 2017, adding a first floor and removing a few interior walls to create an airy and contemporary living space on the ground floor. Colonial-style furnishings were custom designed by the couple, and the framed photographs adorning the walls were taken by Arnaud on their travels around Asia, which led them to Sri Lanka in the first place. They still live nearby and pop in frequently, while the in-house team who cook, clean and provide night security are absolutely charming. Perfect for independent-minded, sociable travellers looking to get under the skin of this fascinating region.
Covid-19 update: some services and facilities may be changed as a result of Coronavirus measures.


  • Location: the peace of an inland setting but an easy tuk-tuk to Koggala Lake and a handful of the region's best beaches
  • We enjoyed being left to our own devices, with staff on-hand if needed
  • Excellent prices
  • Bookable on an exclusive basis; a wonderful staffed rental for 8
  • Very relaxing. No children under 10 are allowed, which keeps things super peaceful


  • Only a small menu of European food on offer (plus Sri Lankan meals on request) and restaurants are a tuk-tuk away
  • The lush surroundings attract mosquitoes
  • The floors get very slippery when wet – dry yourself thoroughly after a swim before going indoors
  • Be aware the vibe is communal; living and dining areas are shared

Best time to go

The best/driest weather is from late December to April, though this is also the region’s high season. Shoulder seasons of late April to early May or July and August are popular times, when there are occasional showers but not monsoon rains. The villa makes a good base for dipping in and out of Galle’s January Literary Festival as it’s just 20 minutes from Galle.

Our top tips

This would be a great first stop on a round tour of the island as the relaxed, easygoing atmosphere makes it easy to acclimatise to Sri Lanka’s climate and culture. It also works as a last stop – for shopping, beach time and eating out.

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 4 rooms
  • Breakfast + other meals on request
  • Over 10s only
  • 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
Room: Deluxe Double


The 4 rooms are located in pairs on the ground and first floors. Essentially their facilities are the same: generous four-poster kingsized beds draped with mosquito nets, ample cupboards and ensuite bathrooms with twin sinks and showers. All rooms are air conditioned yet also have ceiling fans.

The ground-floor bedrooms (#1 and 2) are located side-by-side, just off the entrance courtyard. They are very similar, with theatrical sweeping drapes inside instead of doors. Room 2 has a hidden terrace with an L-shaped sofa, offering more private space.

The upstairs bedrooms are reached via an open staircase; Room 3 overlooks the garden and pool, Room 4 has a view of a tea plantation. Both rooms are adequately sized and, unlike the ground-floor rooms, they also have a flat-screen TV and DVD player.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Hairdryer
  • Mosquito net
  • Toiletries


The housekeeper prepares meals in the pantry kitchen, and you can dine in the living room (separate tables) or in a dining pavilion along one long table. Breakfast is generally a spread of fresh fruit, fruit juice, buffalo curd, toast and eggs cooked any way.

For those who are feeling lazy, there’s a concise menu for lunch and dinner (both on request). Daytime snacks include a club sandwich, hummus with Arabic bread and vegetables, or pesto and tomato bruschetta, all amply filling. For dinner, there are just 4 dishes, including sesame-crusted tuna or a beef burger, plus a take away pizza option from a popular beach restaurant. The housekeeper can also cook traditional Sri Lankan food on request.

Most evenings, you'll probably want to head out, either to Habaraduwa and Koggala (10 minutes in a tuk-tuk) or further west to Dalawella and Unawatuna. Or head into Galle Fort (20 minutes) where you’re spoiled for choice with lovely restaurants.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Organic produce


  • Book a bicycle tour with Idle Bikes, who can guide you on a number of picturesque routes of varying terrains and distances
  • Explore Koggala Lake by boat, or visit one of the cinnamon or spice plantations that fringe its shoreline
  • Tuk-tuk to a golden beach – the closest is Koggala, where you'll see the famous stilt fishermen, but Dalawella, Unawatuna and Kabalana are better for swimming
  • Go shopping – we love Galle Fort, where you can wander the quiet centuries-old streets at will, hunting out colonial treasures and shopping in backstreet boutiques
  • Treat yourself to a massage or beauty treatment at a nearby beach hotel or in one of the independent spas in Galle Fort
  • Snooze in the sun, read, and swim in the lovely pool

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Boat trips
  • Cycling
  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Private guided tours
  • Shopping / markets
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Traditional cultures
  • Well being


10+ year olds are welcome but there are no extra beds or twin-bedded rooms; each room sleeps a max of 2 guests in a double bed. If booking the whole house, you can bring kids of any age, and there is a baby cot to borrow.

Best for:

Teens (over 12)

Families Should Know:

The stairs have no railing, and upon entering the villa there’s a pond with stepping stones. The smooth terrazzo floors can get very slippery when wet.

Kid Friendly:


The hotel is located in Meepe, a small village just inland from Habaraduwa. Galle, the nearest town, is a 20-minute drive away.

By Air :
Colombo Bandaranaike is the closest international airport (155km). From here you can book a transfer with the hotel or catch an air taxi service from Colombo to Koggala Lake, which takes 1 hour 20 minutes. It's then an easy tuk-tuk to Tabula Rasa.

Getting Around:
Tuk-tuks are the best way to get around, and the owners have provided names and numbers for a handful of drivers in the hotel’s welcome pack along with approximate prices for the most popular destinations (beaches, restaurants etc).

If you want to hire a car and driver for your whole holiday, enquire through our Tailormade Tour Operator; they can collect you at Colombo airport when you land, drive you to the hotel, then drive you to your onward destination after your stay.

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


  • Colombo Bandaranaike 155.0 km CMB


  • Beach 3.0 km
  • Shops 3.0 km
  • Restaurant 3.0 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 1 independent review from i-escape guests


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