The Notary's House

Nr Colombo, Colombo & around, Sri Lanka Book from Book from £115 per night

A laid-back lakeside haven with 6 bedrooms and fabulously friendly Sri Lankan hospitality, just 45 minutes from Colombo airport
Perched on the banks of a lotus-filled lake within easy reach of Sri Lanka’s main international airport, The Notary’s House makes for a serene first or final stop on your island adventure.

Tranquil and relaxed, each of the six high-ceilinged rooms overlooks lush, well-manicured gardens and the calm waters beyond, while the fusion of contemporary architecture with quirky antique decor adds character. Standout elements include batik wall hangings throughout, commissioned as an ode to Sri Lanka’s heraldic flag tradition, as well as an impressive frescoed Buddhist shrine. Remnants of the original house - along with a portrait of the notary after whom the hotel is named - have also been carefully preserved and tastefully integrated.

Whether you’re looking to freshen up after a long flight or to pause before your return journey, you shouldn’t struggle to kick back and unwind here. Cycle along jungle tracks, soak up the sun beside the pool and sample top-notch curries on the terrace, as bright birds flit between the trees and swimmers gather purple flowers for the nearby temple. Our hands-down highlight? The team of wonderfully attentive staff, whose smiles and service will leave you wanting to delay your flight home.
Covid-19 update: some services and facilities may be changed as a result of Coronavirus measures.

Highs

  • An intimate atmosphere, with just six bedrooms but large, verdant gardens to spread out in
  • Warm, personal service from a friendly team who really go the extra mile
  • Proximity to the airport makes this a great start or end to any trip
  • Delicious homecooking using vegetables grown in the hotel’s own gardens; cookery classes are offered
  • Unlike most small Sri Lankan hotels, the house has a liquor licence

Lows

  • Menus are limited, but the kitchen were happy to adapt to our vegetarian curry requests
  • The architecture is modern and breezy rather than charming, but the antique furnishings more than make up for it
  • Some guests have commented that there isn’t much to do on long stays; this is primarily an airport hotel so unlikely to be an issue

Best time to go

The hotel is open year-round and makes for a brilliant first or last stop if you’re heading to/from the Cultural Triangle. You’ll be especially thrilled to have cool air-conditioned rooms and a refreshing pool if travelling in March or April, the hottest months.

Our top tips

Cycle around the lake in the early evening to see the sky awash with pink and orange hues as the sun slips away beyond the paddy fields – this was one of our favourite moments. Do ask the team for detailed directions to avoid disappearing into the jungle! The short stretch along the main road is not for the faint-hearted, and it’s worth being very careful as trucks and buses zip past.

Great for...

Family
Foodie
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 6
  • Breakfast + dinner on request
  • All ages welcome
  • 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
  • Bicycles Available
  • Laundry service
Room:

Rooms

Six bright, generously proportioned rooms boast balconies with lake views and planter’s chairs perfect for bird-spotting. Huge red, white and black batiks created by a Sri Lankan artist hang behind big, cosy beds – many of which are antique four-posters – flanked by lamps shaped like the lotus flowers outside. All rooms come with long desks, enormous mirrors and ample storage nooks, as well as modern ensuite bathrooms. The three spacious Deluxe Rooms also feature indoor sitting areas and enough floor space for an additional single bed if required.

Request Deluxe Room 1 if you’d prefer to be on the ground floor - and slightly closer to the pool - or ask for Rooms 3 and 4 to be interconnected if travelling as a family or group. Slightly apart from the others, we’d recommend Room 2, the Deluxe Double in which we stayed, for those seeking a little extra privacy.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

Ease into the day with breakfast in the open-sided garden pavilion. We feasted on delicious egg hoppers (rice flour pancakes with fried eggs at their centre) whilst admiring bright blue kingfishers in the nearby palm trees, spotting a secretive mongoose and noticing herons hunting on the water.

There’s a simple snack menu available throughout the day. Intimate dinners – pre-ordered a few hours beforehand – are served either at candlelit tables on the main terrace or in the garden pavilion. Arrive early to enjoy a G&T or a cold beer while reclining in an antique planter’s chair or trying your hand at the assorted board games, before moving to your table for the main event.

We loved the evening rice and curry spread, devouring dhal, beetroot, potato, pumpkin and fish curries, along with spicy coconut sambol. This is a seriously good way to round off your experience of an island so famed for its culinary fare.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Restaurant
  • Room service
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Try your hand at Sri Lankan cooking with an in-house class sampling fragrant spices and flavoursome curries, including vegetables grown in the hotel’s own gardens.
  • Play a late afternoon game of volleyball on the grass once the heat has gone out of the day.
  • Borrow a bike to cycle through the nearby jungle, past villages of brightly painted houses and around the lake.
  • Cover your knees and shoulders to visit the beautiful Buddhist temple complex nearby. Better yet, ask the team for a tour – recent guests have been hugely positive about their guided wanderings.
  • Explore coastal Negombo (30 minutes away), home to colonial churches, canals and fabulously fresh seafood, and legions of fisherman who haul in their catch on the beach.

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Cooking classes
  • Cycling
  • Fishing
  • Historical sites
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Traditional cultures
  • Volleyball

Kids

Children are welcome and staff will happily kick a football around or showcase the island’s famous passion for cricket. There is no barrier between the garden and the lake, although the pool has raised sides. Bear in mind that this is a rural location, so it may not appeal to older kids.

Best for:

All ages

Family friendly accommodation:

Nab the two-room family suite (Standard 3 interconnected with Deluxe 4), ask for an additional single bed in one of the Deluxe Rooms or request a cot if travelling with a baby.

Baby equipment:

  • High chair
  • Baby bedding
  • Bottle warming

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

Distances:

  • Airport: 50 minutes
  • Hospital: 15 minutes
  • Shops: 5 minutes
Kid Friendly:

Location

The Notary's House is 29km / 50 minutes northeast of Colombo airport and about 90 minutes' drive of Colombo city centre. The beaches of Negombo are 30 minutes away. The nearest town is Makandura.

By Air
Fly into Colombo's Bandaranaike International Airport (29km).

From the Airport
The hotel can organise a car to collect you from Colombo airport, which takes 50-60 minutes depending on traffic.

By Car
If you want to hire a car, bear in mind that Sri Lanka’s roads are in bad condition and speed limits are low, so even short distances take a long time. It can take up to three hours to cross Colombo at rush hour! We recommend hiring a driver and car if you’re planning to travel around Sri Lanka. There's plenty of parking at the hotel.

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

Airports:

  • Colombo Bandaranaike 29.0 km

Other:

  • Beach 15.0 km
  • Shops 2.0 km
  • Restaurant 2.0 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 1 independent review from i-escape guests

10/10
Room
10/10
Food
10/10
Service
8/10
Value
10/10
Overall

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