The Wallawwa

Colombo, Sri Lanka Book from

Reviewed by Kate Parsons
An elegant and tranquil retreat nestled in exotic tropical gardens, close to Colombo's airport
Whether you are disembarking from a long flight or preparing to embark on one, an icy cold drink, a friendly face, good food and a restful room seem heaven-sent. The W, as it's known, was once a country estate belonging to the head chieftain of Galle, and it's ideally situated for a stopover on your way in or out of Colombo airport. But with its small spa, excellent chef, gorgeous pool and exotic gardens, it's the kind of place you might want to linger. Use it as a base for exploring the city's shops, museums and nearby golf courses, or a couple of days' gentle acclimatisation.

The 17 rooms are spacious and comfy. Dark woods are offset by bright striped and floral fabrics, and fresh flowers waft their scent throughout. History buffs will love the background of the hotel; tired bodies will luxuriate in the comfy beds.

It's beautifully quiet - you would never know you're only 20 mins from the international airport, and 45-60 from the hustle and bustle of Sri Lanka's capital. And best of all, the staff are stand-out; as you get to know them by name, it feels like being with family. The Wallawwa is a great hotel by any standards - not just a great stopover near the airport.


  • Spacious rooms just 20 minutes from the airport - ideal for pre- or post flight stopovers
  • On-site spa with an excellent masseuse
  • Truly excellent service; staff have been trained in some of the best hotels in Sri Lanka and it shows
  • A refreshingly varied menu combining Sri Lankan curries plus adventurous western styles


  • When we visited, hot water was erratic due to the solar panels (but we are assured that this has been fixed by the installation of thermostats)
  • You're a fair way out of Colombo and need to take a taxi to other restaurants and shops

Best time to go

Any time of year - this hotel is open all year and is an ideal place to stop off on your way in our out of the country. A great base if you want to explore Colombo but not stay right in the city.

Our top tips

If you are making this your first stop after a long haul flight, make sure to book a 40-minute head and neck massage (you get 15% off by booking through i-escape). This will refresh you if you need to beat the jet lag, but also soothes enough to help you sleep.

Great for...

  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 17
  • Restaurant (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • 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


All rooms are vast - our jaws dropped when we saw the size of our bathroom - and high ceilings and lots of windows mean they are light, cool and very comfortable. Add huge beds, super comfy mattresses and black-out shades and you're pretty much guaranteed a great night's sleep.

Decor is stylish and rooms are well equipped with flatscreen TVs, plenty of wardrobe space and window seats (which can be made into an extra bed for a child) as well as a small terrace. Relaxing and calm, they impart a definite sense of serenity.

Our only quibbles were to do with the bathroom. Sizewise things were amazing, but we found the water pressure and temperature in our shower to be somewhat erratic (we gather that the addition of thermostats has fixed this); and we were slightly disappointed by the lack of a tub (heaven knows, there's space for one!). On the upside we loved the bamboo towel rails and bathroom products (which you can use but not take away - environmentally sound).

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • Mosquito net
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Terrace
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • Torch
  • Tv
  • Umbrella
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet


Breakfast and dinner are taken at the small open veranda restaurant at the front of the hotel; lunch too, if you are around. When we asked about dining times, we were told "Any time, this is your home now." And we really felt that we could order as we wanted (there's 24-hour room service if you feel it's too cheeky to do so in the restaurant).

The food was amongst the best we had in any hotel in Sri Lanka. The head chef on our visit was a cheery chap named Lee, a Sri Lankan who previously worked in top hotels in Las Vegas. He has since moved on (we gather his replacement is equally talented- and cheerful), but his legacy is a mouth-watering global fusion menu, combining everything from Balinese tuna skewers to eggs Benedict and excellent, authentic curries.

The menu is kept small so you're guaranteed high quality, fresh produce, much of it from the hotel's own gardens. The egg hoppers with a fresh and spicy sambal, and the buffalo curd with treacle, were just the breakfast ticket to set us up for our journey. For dinner we opted for the Sri Lankan curry and were delighted with the array of steaming bowls that arrived.

If you want to dine out, Colombo has a vast array of restaurants to choose from, including Nibonyashi for Japanese food, Bay Leaf for Italian and Chesa Swiss for steaks.

Features include:

  • Children meals
  • Organic produce
  • Restaurant
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu


  • Book a massage in the spa - a must for those coming off a long haul flight, but an affordable treat at any time

  • Head to the pool for a swim, or lounge by its side on those too-hot-to-move days

  • If it rains, curl up in the library with a book or play one of the board games till the storm passes

  • If you want to play golf, the team will arrange a game at The Royal Colombo course, or further afield at the Victoria Golf and Country Club in Kandy

  • The National Museum and the Dutch Period Museum are both worth a visit in Colombo

  • Colombo has the best shopping on the whole island, so ask the team for some advice and grab a taxi into town if retail therapy is your vice

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Cycling
  • Fishing
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Horse-riding
  • Hot air ballooning
  • Kayaking
  • Sailing
  • Scuba diving
  • Snorkelling
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Windsurfing
  • Yoga


A good option for families, with safe, lawned grounds (though the pool and pond are not protected in any way), and excellent, flexible service. The restaurant has a kids' menu and highchairs.

Best for:

Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Garden Suites have an extra bed for a child - actually a window seat made into a bed. 2 pairs of rooms are interconnecting (1 double Garden Suite and 1 twin Wallawwa Room, in each case). When booked together, there is a discount (ask for details).

Children's meals:

Kids menu available

Families Should Know:

There are unfenced ponds and a pool so keep an eye on small children at all times.

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...


{{ review.firstName }}{{ review.countryName ? ', '+ review.countryName : '' }},
Feedback is only from guests who have booked and stayed through i-escape

Rates for The Wallawwa