Water Garden Sigiriya

Sigiriya, Cultural Triangle, Sri Lanka Book from Book from £296 per night

Serenity, spaciousness and style at this stunning, water-lined hotel near the Cultural Triangle's main sites
Sigiriya, one of Sri Lanka’s most treasured World Heritage sites, is the literal focus of this boutique hotel in the island’s Cultural Triangle region. Although the 200m-high rock is a few km away, it rears clearly above the surrounding grassy plains, and the hotel's stunning symmetry — designed by Channa Daswatta, a renowned student of Geoffrey Bawa — gives vistas of the ruined fortress from every angle.

The namesake water gardens are crafted out of former rice terraces, and the hotel's mature tree-edged setting is incredibly tranquil. The 30 reed-fringed or over-water villas are freestanding, with cutting-edge facilities; most have private plunge pools. Communal areas are smart and chic, too, with open-sided terraces for drinking and dining, and a huge swimming pool, all carefully positioned to view Sigiriya. The local heritage sites are why you come to this region, but the hotel's idyllic setting is motive enough for staying put and relaxing for a few days, rather than simply whistling through on a tour. And thanks to its spa, gym and separate kids pool, there's plenty to keep everyone happy.

Highs

  • An inspiring architectural design focused on Sigiriya’s silhouette
  • Delicious Sri Lankan food, or Western options if you prefer
  • The peaceful grounds teem with wildlife, particularly peacocks, lizards and monkeys, which you can spy from your terrace
  • Luxurious villas are huge, with 1-2 bedrooms and separate living areas. Most have private plunge pools
  • Well located for visiting Sigiriya, Dambulla's Unesco-listed cave temples and the ancient capitals of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa

Lows

  • Only 2 Deluxe Villas have views of Sigiriya
  • No other restaurants within easy distance; book half board
  • The road leading to the resort is unpaved and can get bumpy after heavy rain
  • When we visited, some pathways weren’t lit at night, but there are torches in the rooms or you can call a golf buggy
  • Snakes inhabit the marshy grounds, but all pathways are raised from the watery gardens

Best time to go

The Cultural Triangle tends to be drier than Sri Lanka’s southern and western regions. The rainy season is May, June, September and October; however the monsoons aren't relentless and the upside of coming in those months is less crowds touring the area’s main cultural sites (and lower rates). May’s Buddhist Wesak festival is a colourful time to visit the region as jewel-hued lanterns are strung up outside village homes, and temples festooned with lights.

Our top tips

Sigiriya is best visited first thing in the morning as it is a hot and sweaty climb. The route to the summit should also be less crowded. Buy your tickets the day before you go as this means you’ll avoid the queues that sometimes occur when the ticket office opens at 7am. For alternative views of Sigiriya, scramble up adjacent Pidurangala Rock – hardly anyone goes there.

Great for...

Family
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
Spa
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 30
  • Restaurant and bar 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
  • Bicycles Available
Room:

Rooms

The 30 stylish villas are some of the largest 'rooms' in Sri Lanka. All have smooth floors, full-length windows and smart contemporary furnishings, including cloud-like king-sized beds dressed in pillowy duvets and finely woven bedspreads for melting into. The lounge with TV, sofa and dining table is totally separate from the bedroom. Some villas are a little hike from the main areas but you can always call for a buggy if you're feeling lazy.

All villas have coffee machines, fast WiFi, Bluetooth speakers, even binoculars for spotting wildlife from your bed or private terrace. Bathrooms have tubs and walk-in rain showers. The Superior Deluxe Villas are essentially identical to the starter-level Deluxe Villas, with the luxurious addition of a private plunge pool on their terrace. The 4 Duplex Villas also have plunge pools and sleep up to 5 in 2 bedrooms (a ground-floor twin and a first-floor king). They also have roof terraces with views of Sigiriya.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Coffee maker
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Mosquito net
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • Satellite TV
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

Although there's a lovely glass-walled air-conditioned dining room, we preferred sitting outside on the wraparound veranda for meals. There are no other restaurants nearby so most guests book on a half-board basis; you choose from a handful of main courses as part of a substantial 5-course set dinner. If you’d prefer more choice or lighter meals, opt for B&B basis to access their a la carte menu, too.

Food is delicious - and beautifully presented. For breakfast, Sri Lankan curries and sambols are paired with a medley of sides (milk rice, string hoppers, hoppers and coconut roti) as opposed to just one option, and we enjoyed everything we tried. The rice and curry for lunch, which comprised multiple bowls of individual curries, was also very good. On the dinner set menu there’s always a local option alongside a few Western mains such as rack of lamb, grilled chicken or fish.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Children's meals
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Coffee maker
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Room service
Eating:
Activity: Bernard Gagnon

Activities

  • Unesco-listed Sigiriya is why you're here. The hotel offers guided visits to help you understand its religious and cultural significance and history
  • Dambulla’s sacred cave temples are another must, each festooned with Buddhist statues and vibrant well-preserved murals
  • The hotel has bicycles for exploring your rural environs independently or step out on foot on their 2-hour guided nature walks
  • Day trip to the ancient capitals of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, or admire Mihintale's incredible frescoes
  • Safari in Minneriya National Park, home to wild elephants and diverse bird life. Sightings are most frequent between August and October
  • Lounge by the huge swimming pool oror indulge in a wide array of relaxing massages, body scrubs, wraps and holistic treatments at the Ayurvedic spa

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Cycling
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Private guided tours
  • Traditional cultures
  • Well being

Kids

The hotel welcomes families and has a children's pool, Duplex Villas with 2 bedrooms apiece, a kids menu and a babysitting service. Children will be fascinated by Sigiriya's history and dominating presence on the landscape, and by the nearby Dambulla caves.

Best for:

All ages

Family friendly accommodation:

All villas can fit an extra bed or baby cot, but the most suitable rooms for families (with up to 3 children) are the Duplex Villas. These have a ground-floor twin bedroom and a first-floor double bedroom, plus a roof terrace with views of Sigiriya. Each has a private terrace and plunge pool.

Babysitting:

With advance notice

Baby equipment:

Baby cots, high chairs and night lights

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

Children's meals:

A dedicated children’s menu

Families Should Know:

The paths through the water gardens are unfenced and unlit at night.

Distances:

  • Airport: 146km (Colombo)
  • Hospital: 12km
  • Shop: 3km
Kid Friendly:

Location

Water Garden Sigiriya is just 7km from Sigiriya rock, a World Heritage Site, set in rural countryside amidst Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle region.

By Air:
Most people fly into Colombo Bandaranaike interational airport (146km). Sigiriya’s domestic airport, serviced by Cinnamon Air, is a 15-minute’ drive away. The hotel can arrange a car and driver to pick you up from either airport.

If you want to hire a car and driver for your whole holiday, enquire through our Tailormade Tour Operator; they can collect you at Colombo airport when you land, drive you to the hotel, then drive you to your onward destination(s) after your stay, as well as taking you on all day trips etc.

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

Airports:

  • Bandaranaike International Colombo Airport 146.0 km CMB

Other:

  • Beach 110.0 km
  • Shops 3.0 km
  • Restaurant 0.0 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 1 independent review from i-escape guests

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

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