Tri Lanka

Koggala Lake, Galle & South Coast, Sri Lanka Book from US$270

Reviewed by Emma Boyle
Luxe eco retreat on the banks of Koggala Lake, with inventive cuisine and inspirational yoga classes
The owners of Tri couldn’t have found a more peaceful, inspiring and positive location to build their sustainable design hotel, with its firm focus on wellness. First-class yoga facilities, a soothing spa, oodles of space and a fusion menu go hand-in-hand with the hotel’s stunning setting, spiralling around the palm-shaded banks of Koggala Lake. The 11 rooms, the infinity pool and the contemporary lounging deck are all positioned to gaze across the water.

Brand new in December 2015, Tri will appeal to artistic couples looking for digital detox and inspiration, while nature lovers will be drawn to the hotel’s wildlife-filled location. Kayaks sit poised for explorations of the lake; perfect for photographing wallowing water monitors or capturing kites and kingfishers swooping low in the sky. The atmosphere is pin-drop peaceful, and when not relaxing you can indulge in Quantum yoga and heavenly treatments.

Highs

    • Refreshingly remote, but only 15 minutes to the beach and 30 minutes to Galle Fort and whale-watching hotspot, Mirissa
    • Incredibly tranquil
    • Inspiring eco design: we loved the ‘living’ roofs and cinnamon-bark Water Tower
    • Panoramic lake views from the infinity pool and all bedrooms
    • The food is an adventure - we were wowed by the inventiveness and novel flavour combinations

Lows

    • Not for those seeking nightlife, frenetic activity or the beach on their doorstep
    • No TVs, tea/coffee-making facilities or minibars in the rooms
    • The lake looks inviting but you can't swim in it
    • Some may find the food too 'gourmet' for a longer stay
    • No twin rooms

Best time to go

December to April are the driest months on the south coast, but bear in mind that December to March is the height of the tourist season, so you'll need to book accommodation well in advance. May and June are the wettest months of the year; July and August are pleasant but the Indian Ocean is rough. October and November can be sunny, but heavy rain and humidity are typical. Availability may be limited during January’s annual Galle Literary Festival.

Our top tips

Bring your binoculars! Koggala Lake is a paradise for birds and wildlife. Land monitors and lizards can be seen striding across the grounds, and from your sunlounger you’ll likely spot electric blue kingfishers diving into the lake, eagles gliding through the sky and butterflies and dragonflies floating between the tropical lakeside foliage. The glass-walled library is equipped with wildlife handbooks for identifying your sightings.

Great for...

Eco
Foodie
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
Spa
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 11
  • Restaurant & bar (open daily)
  • Best for older children
  • 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
  • Yoga Shala and private lessons
  • Kayaks
Room:

Rooms

Tri’s rooms spiral around the curve of a lush lakeside promontory. Hidden amidst landscaped gardens, they feature living roofs and floor-to-ceiling windows, which maximise light and the panoramic lake views.

All are decorated identically; the difference is in size and setting. Some perch higher on the bank than others, some have long balconies or private gardens. The cheapest rooms occupy 3 floors of the cinnamon-clad Water Tower (amazing architecture) but are considerably smaller in size than the suites and villas.

We stayed in a Lake Villa, which came with more living space than a Lake Suite, and a slightly more defined bathroom. Ideal for honeymooners, ours was the only Lake Villa to have a plunge pool, although all have nice long lake-view balconies for relaxing and dining. The Tri Villa is the most spectacular, with 2 balconies, gorgeous views, a big bathroom and a plunge pool.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes (on request)
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer (on request)
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

Tri’s menu is one of the most inventive we’ve seen in Sri Lanka. The hotel prizes itself on high-quality local produce and the nutritious menus are based on deconstructed traditional dishes, revamped into modern presentations.

The 6-course gourmet dinner is a journey of flavours. Ours included a kurrakan, cocoa and cinnamon ‘risotto’ starter; manta wing with pomelo, hathawariya leaf, drumstick and sticky rice for a main; and a dessert of white tea pannacotta with jaggery ice cream and coconut crumb.

Their all-day menu lists more familiar dishes with a twist - burgers (we tried a novel cauliflower burger) with thrice-cooked chips, salads dotted with ‘secret’ dressings, sushi rolls flavoured with village vegetables and mini versions of Sri Lanka’s famed hoppers for breakfast. Standouts included their roasted cashew, jackseed and buffalo butter inventions, as well as sublime curd ice cream.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Cooking classes
  • Restaurant
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Join an early morning yoga class in the treetop shala, open to the swaying bamboo, or have a treatment in the spa
  • Borrow a kayak to explore Koggala Lake, visiting a cinnamon island to see how the quills are produced, observing bird life or photographing the stunning aquatic scenery
  • Visit a tea estate; there's a lowland tea factory nearby, renowned for its ‘Virgin White Tea’. You can take a guided tour of the gardens and antiquated factory, followed by a tea-sampling session
  • Swim in the Indian Ocean at Kabalana Beach (also a popular surfing spot) then have lunch across the road at Café Ceylon
  • Take a whale-watching tour from Mirissa beach - blue whales and dolphins
  • Stroll through Galle’s 17thC colonial fort, exploring the café- and boutique-flanked lanes, before ending up atop the coral and lime ramparts for an iconic sunset

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Boat trips
  • Cooking classes
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Kayaking
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Private guided tours
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming
  • Tea plantation tours
  • Whalewatching
  • Yoga

Kids

Children over 12 are welcome, but there are no facilities for them, and the hotel’s relaxed atmosphere is more conducive to couples than to families. Independent teens interested in nature will feel most at home here. Note that all beds are kingsize (no twins) though the daybeds in all rooms (except the Water Tower rooms) can be made up as a single bed.

Best for:

Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Extra Beds Available, Family Rooms

Families Should Know:

The lake is unfenced. The hotel is set on a verdant rise, and hazards include drop-offs, steps and banks.

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

9/
Rooms
10/
Food
10/
Service
10/
Value
10/
Overall

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