“Step back in time to when the British Empire ruled the world... Explore, relax and indulge in this beautiful, tranquil retreat”
Built in the 1860s by a Scottish spice merchant, The Sun House was voted by Conde Nast as one of the 'Top 21 Hotels for the 21st Century'. Since then, the owners have also opened The Dutch House next door with its stunning infinity pool. With their proximity to Galle (one of Sri Lanka's most atmospheric towns), these white-porticoed colonial gems are a perfect base for exploring the south coast - a haven for romantic couples and solace-seekers wanting something different.
- The 7 beautiful bedrooms offer inspiring views, especially the vast and lovely Cinnamon Suite with its balcony and sitting room
- Large windows and open-plan living areas allow gentle breezes to waft the scent of frangipani throughout the hotel
- Delicious food is served in the elegant dining room, and breakfasts are a real treat (the signature chilli eggs will stay in our memory for a long time)
- Dick's Bar has a wonderful atmosphere - the ultimate spot for a sunset G&T
- The feel is one of romance and homeliness throughout
- The nearest beach is 5km away, although transport can be arranged and there's a small pool for lazing in the sun
- The atmosphere is quite bohemian, and some areas are beginning to look a little tired around the edges - it's not for those expecting slick hotel style and staffing
- If you're coming with a car and driver, there's no accommodation on site for the driver
- Like many places in Sri Lanka, mosquitoes can be a problem - make sure you bring plenty of repellent
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Boutique Hotel
- Breakfast (+ other meals on request)
- All ages welcome
- Open all year
- Outdoor Pool
- Spa Treatments
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
The Sun House has just 5 rooms and 2 suites, all with white walls, tiled floors, four-poster beds and the odd splash of vibrant colour that's deliciously cooling against the blue sky outside. Everything is spotlessly clean and fresh.
The "most beautiful room in the world" - the Cinnamon Suite - takes up the whole of the first floor. An airy triumph of simple and elegant colonial design melded with local style, it has its own sitting room, a private library and a balcony looking out over the jungle to the sea. There's also an indoor shower room, and an outdoor bathtub where you can soak under the stars. It is, however, the only room without air conditioning. The newer of the 2 suites, the Dumas Suite, has a separate living room, a bathroom with a tub and shower, and a balcony with views of Galle's tropical hinterland.
The 5 bedrooms are arranged around the mango garden. The 2 Deluxe Rooms, named Hibiscus and Araliya, are larger than the Standard Rooms (Sun & Sky, Kingfisher and the twin Parrot Fish), but all feature air conditioning, mosquito nets and comfortable beds with fine, crisp linens. Some bedrooms also have a writing desk - handy for those inspired by their surroundings - while Hisbiscus has an outdoor shower framed by tropical plants. Coral and handmade soaps are placed in the ensuite bathrooms, and blossoms are scattered around the bedrooms by staff.
- Air conditioning in most
- Cots Available
- Extra beds
- Mosquito net
The cuisine at The Sun House is renowned as some of the best in Sri Lanka. Meals can be taken in the dining room, on one of the verandas, or in the garden under the mango tree. As there is a live-in chef, guests are invited to discuss their culinary needs each morning.
As with the décor, the food seems to tread an invisible line between paying homage to the Sri Lankan surroundings while catering to the Western palate. The dinner menu changes daily, but always consists of a starter, a main course and a choice of desserts, all made with local ingredients. We tucked into Thai-inspired coconut curry, chili-roasted Mahi-Mahi with a lemongrass sauce, and spiced panacotta with roasted pineapple. There are also a few Mediterranean recipes such as tomato and basil salad and beef skewers.
Breakfast too is a mix of Western and Sri Lankan, with string hoppers, sambals and local tea alongside fry-ups, muesli, fresh fruit, toast and coffee. All the options we sampled were delicious, and we loved the signature chilli eggs. You can even tuck into a morning curry if you order it 24 hours in advance.
Light lunches are also available - we tried a tasty potato omelette with a rocket salad, but if you just want a quick snack, a fruit and cheese plate can be rustled up on request. And a simple menu of soups, salads, pies and afternoon teas is on offer at Dick’s Bar, which has a refined yet relaxed ambiance and a range of cocktails, fine wines and liquors.
- Dinner by arrangement
- Lunch by arrangement
- Room service
- Stroll down to Galle, one of the few Sri Lankan towns to have retained its colonial atmosphere, and wander through the labyrinth of narrow streets and boutique-lined alleys inside its 17th-century Dutch fort
- Spend the day on the beach. Unawatuna (5km away) is a small backpackers' resort backed by swaying palms, cafés and bars. It has some of the safest swimming on the coast and is also good for diving and snorkelling. If you want more seclusion, wander further down the coast and you'll find stretches of empty sand
- Ask staff to hire a tuk-tuk and take a ride through nearby tea plantations; a picnic lunch can be arranged on request
- Visit the small but untouristy Kataluwa Buddhist temple, tucked away in the jungle near Galle
- For the energetic, canoeing, rafting and mountain-bike tours in the lowland tea country can be arranged
- Back at the hotel, sit back by the pool with a G&T and soak up the peaceful atmosphere
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Historical sites
- Mountain biking
- Scuba diving
- Shopping / markets
- Traditional cultures