“Bijou boutique hotel near Galle, with a pool, tropical gardens and a personal touch”
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 is slightly smaller than the others and has a mezzanine sleeping level. 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.
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 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. 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.
Families are very welcome at Why House, whose big lawned walled gardens are great for tearing about and exploring. Most rooms can fit an extra bed. There are plenty of activities to entertain kids, the most exciting being the option to book an elephant to visit for the afternoon and give rides around the garden (children can feed and wash it, too!). There's also a snake charmer who can bring his python, Barbara, and monkey, Otto, for the afternoon. External family activities can be booked by the hotel.
The 2 main house Suites are the best for families, as each can fit 2 rollaway beds in an ante room or a mezzanine. 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
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
Kids menu available