“Affordable private villas for 2-6 with a beautiful shared pool, gardens and all day dining, near some lovely beaches”
The 7 villas are simple but stylish with 2 large double bedrooms with four-poster beds draped with mosquito nets, and ensuite indoor-outdoor bathrooms with walk-in showers and a tub. You also get a kitchen, living-dining room leading out to a veranda and private walled garden, plus shared use of the lovely swimming pool.
All have a similar layout and are decorated with local touches, including handmade terracotta floor tiles, seagrass and cane chairs and heavy wooden furniture and shutters. Air-conditioning, fans, and 18-ft high wooden ceilings keep rooms as cool as possible. There's free WiFi throughout, but don't expect mod cons like TVs or DVD players.
We liked the bright flashes of tropical colours: a canary yellow section on the wall in the bathroom, burnt orange cushions, occasional lime-green walls and a flash of pink from the tumbling bougainvillea. We weren't so keen on the dim lighting in the bedrooms which made finding anything in the wardrobes after dusk rather tricky.
Each villa has a small basic kitchen with gas hob so you can self-cater if you want. Although we didn't bother, it was handy to have a big fridge for keeping drinks cold and to russle up snacks for our young daughter. There's no formal restaurant, but Tisara runs a great 'room service' style system with an extensive menu of international and local food. Meals can be served in your villa or outside by the pool. Note that the regular rates include breakfast but you can also book full and half board; just ask.
Typically, breakfast is pancakes, tropical fruit picked from the property, and you can order eggs any which way. We liked the yoghurt-like buffalo curd with palm treacle, chili omelettes and Sri Lankan string hoppers. For lunch and dinner, specialities include lagoon prawns with coconut hearts, swordfish steak with mango and pomegranate salsa, and pasta with granchi (with red lagoon crabs and tomatoes). There are also vegetarian options like rice paper wraps with avocado, sautéed vegetables and lentils, and tasty meat and fish Sri Lankan curries with all the traditional accompaniments. The manager, Neel, usually asks guests in the morning if they wish to dine at Tisara, so they can buy fresh ingredients from the market.
For a change of scene, there are plenty of eateries within a short tuk-tuk ride, on the beach or in Galle. We enjoyed lazy seafood lunches at The Frangipani Tree and Italian-owned Why Beach. For sundowners and wood-fired pizzas head to nearby Wijaya Beach (Sri Lanka's hippest beach hangout), and for a special treat, the lovely Sun House in Galle is a must (it was our best dinner in Sri Lanka).
Each villa has a fridge stocked with filtered water (free) and soft drinks (extra cost). A limited selection of beer and pricey wine can be purchased and you can also order smoothies, coconut juice, Ayurvedic tea and Ceylon tea whenever you want. You can bring your own alcohol (best to buy spirits or wine at the airport) without fear of a corkage fee, and there are local shops nearby for all your home-cooking needs.
Families are very welcome, and Tisara is an easy place to stay with kids thanks to the privacy and space of the villas, combined with the convenience of a meal delivery service and a kitchen to self-cater snacks. Each villa has 2 queensize beds and can fit up to 2 extra beds or 2 baby cots (1 in each bedroom, at extra cost), so it's also good for 2 couples with 1 child each, or a multi-generational holiday.
Babies (0-1 years), Toddlers (1-4 years), Children (4-12 years)
Cots Available, Extra Beds Available
With advanced notice, local nannies can be arranged for daytime or evenings
Children love the big pool and spotting colourful birds, monkeys, lizards, mongooses in the garden and surrounding trees.
The local sandy beach is large and unspoilt and you can hire loungers and parasols, but watch out for the strong waves. For more gentle paddling head to nearby Wijaya, Unawatuna or Mirissa. There is a small turtle hatchery nearby where you can visit and hold cute palm-sized turtles in your hand.
The pool is unfenced. The main double beds have mosquito nets but not the extra beds.