“Bijou boutique hotel near Galle, with a pool, tropical gardens and a personal touch”
Staying here is easy: it's just a 15-minute walk to the beach, and tuk-tuks can take you to Galle and beyond. The food is excellent, and with a pool and grounds to explore, you don't even need to leave if you're feeling lazy. It's popular with families, and also attracts couples and honeymooners; all in all, a wonderfully peaceful base for a beach holiday on Sri Lanka's south coast.
- The peaceful gardens, filled with butterflies, birdsong and snooze-inducing hammocks
- Warm and friendly service from Henrietta and her team (including Nigella the sausage dog), who make you feel instantly at home
- Spacious and restful rooms, all with high ceilings and antique furniture; we particularly liked the 2 suites in the main house, with their glass-roofed bathrooms, 4-poster beds and terraces
- The stunning pools - the hotel pool is flanked by coconut palms and frangipani trees, and the villa pool overlooks the Indian Ocean
- Simple Sri Lankan luxury throughout, with colourful murals and photographs of old Ceylon
- Henrietta often has friends to visit and meals are served communally unless you request a separate table in advance
- The main hotel isn't directly on the beach, but it's only a 15-minute walk away
- No bathtubs in the rooms
- Guests at the hotel may hear barking from local dogs at night
- Strict cancellation policy
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Boutique Hotel
- 8 rooms + 1 villa
- Restaurant + bar
- 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
- Concierge Service
- Yoga pavilion
Why House is spread across a number of buildings. The look is simple, traditional Sri Lankan luxury: white walls, polished dark-wood furniture, and ceiling fans to keep the heat down.
All rooms have private terraces, and sitting out in the evening listening to the tropical chorus as fireflies glow around you is a magical experience. They also come with air conditioning, walk-in wardrobes, Satellite TVs, DVD players (there's a film library to raid), WiFi and small fridges.
Our favourites are the 2 Suites, which sit off the colonnaded communal area in the sociable main house. Both have 4-poster beds, windows on 2 sides letting in plenty of light, and double doors leading to living areas with a desk and sofa (these can accommodate a couple of extra beds if needed). Their luxurious bathrooms are a highlight, with glass ceilings above the showers to make you feel like you're outdoors. The Double is similar in style but smaller, with space for 1 extra bed.
We stayed in one of the Cabanas, which are hidden in the gardens and work well for couples seeking a little more privacy. Each consists of 2 buildings linked by a covered walkway, one housing a bedroom and the other a huge shower bathroom.
The 3 Garden Doubles have smooth concrete floors, antique furniture and open-plan shower areas (there are separate toilets); one (no.6) is slightly smaller than the others and has a mezzanine sleeping level with two single beds so works for a family. If you're coming as a group, the Garden Villa can be rented as a whole, sleeping 6 in total, or the entire hotel can be booked for 16.
- Air conditioning
- Cots Available
- DVD player
- Extra beds
- Safe box
- Satellite TV
Meals at Why House are sociable affairs around communal tables in the dining pavilion, an open-sided building near the main house. It gives a weekend or house-party feel to staying at the hotel, which can be great fun - although if you’d prefer some privacy, you can dine à deux in various locations in the gardens and by the pool.
The food is a mix of Western, Lebanese and Sri Lankan. We tucked into a selection of local curries on one evening, and roast chicken on another; the seafood comes highly recommended by other guests, although we didn’t get the chance to sample it. The kithul tart with a side of peanut brittle ice cream was savoured for dessert. Lunch options might include club sandwiches, crab salads or spicy Nasi Goreng.
Breakfast is a buffet of fresh fruit, cereal and toast (with Marmite, for Brits with a craving!), along with eggs cooked to order. String hoppers (a kind of Sri Lankan pancake) are often served, too.
If you get hungry between meals, the homemade cakes and bread are very good. There's also a small but selective bar, with jovial bar-tenders and the likes of local arrack, as well as wine. It's quite unusual in small Sri Lankan hotels to find such a good selection.
If you want a change of scene, staff can recommend nearby restaurants, including Kahanda Kanda, The Fortress and The Kingfisher. We headed to the Wijaya Beach Restaurant, which serves good, fresh food and sunset beers in an excellent location overlooking the ocean.
- Children's meals
- Communal dining
- Organic produce
- Room service
- Tuk-tuk to restaurants (offsite)
- Vegetarian menu
- Relax around the pool with a glass of fruit juice, or enjoy a yoga session, book an Ayurvedic treatment or massage with a visiting therapist
- Wijaya beach is 5 minutes away by tuk-tuk or a gently paced 15-minute stroll from both the hotel and the villa. It has a selection of beach bars, and is pretty and sandy
- Entertain the kids by asking staff to book a visiting magician or a cupcake-decorating course with the chef. They can also go kayaking or cycling through paddy fields
- Take a tuk-tuk to Unawatuna beach (4km away) for swimming, diving, snorkelling and temples
- Go whale-watching, dolphin-spotting or deep-sea fishing - management can arrange local trips
- Or go surfing at Weligama beach, one of Sri Lanka's most renowned spots
- Take a day trip to Galle (15-20 minutes by tuk-tuk) to admire the UNESCO-listed Dutch fort, fortified town walls, lighthouse and cricket ground. It has some sensational interiors shops and lovely restaurants
- The sandy beaches nearby attract egg-laying turtles around Full Moon. Otherwise there's a small turtle hatchery nearby where you can hold palm-sized turtles in your hand
- Play pool rugby, volleyball or badminton at the hotel - the staff are trained to play and supervise!
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Cooking classes
- Elephant rides
- Historical sites
- Museums / galleries
- Pool rugby, badminton & volleyball
- Private guided tours
- Scuba diving
- Shopping / markets
- Turtle hatchery
- Well being
- Whale watching
Families are very welcome at Why House, whose big lawned walled gardens are great for tearing about and exploring. Children will like the stuffed dachshund dog awaiting them in the room. Most rooms can fit an extra bed. There are plenty of activities to entertain kids. External family activities can be booked by the hotel.
Family friendly accommodation:
The 2 main house Suites are the best for families, as each can fit 2 rollaway beds in an ante room or a mezzanine. Room no. 6 has a mezzanine floor with two single beds on it in addition to the double bed below. There is a triple with a double and single bed too. Some other rooms can fit 1 extra bed or baby cot. Larger families can book the whole Garden Villa, sleeping up to 9 people in 3 double rooms (2 of which interconnect). Note that there are no bathtubs
Available by arrangement
- Baby cot
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
Kids menu available
Kids Activities on site:
- Large pool
- Visiting magician and face painter
- Games: badminton, pool rugby, volleyball, quoits, cricket and football
- Board games and cards
- The chef can run cooking classes and cupcake-decorating sessions
- Karaoke machine on request
- In-room DVD players and a DVD library in the lounge with some family films
Kids Activities nearby:
- Sandy beach a 15-minute walk away (or on your doorstep if you book the villa)
- Paddy field cycling trips
- Kayaking trips
- Surfing at Weligama
- Whale- / dolphin-watching boat trips
- Turtle hatchery where you can hold tiny turtles
- Airport: 2 hours (Colombo)
- Hospital: 2 hours (Colombo)
- Nearest shop: 5 minutes