Why House

Galle & Environs, Sri Lanka
Book from Book from £242 per night

Relaxed, family-friendly boutique hotel near Galle, with a pool, tropical gardens and a personal touch

Relaxed, family-friendly boutique hotel near Galle, with a pool, tropical gardens and a personal touch

Turning off the highway towards Why House, we were taken back in time to a genteel world of colonial elegance and laid-back village life. This tranquil hideaway near Galle in southern Sri Lanka is very special indeed. The rooms are surrounded by palm trees and acres of lush gardens, where ripe fruit and spices scent the air. The buildings’ graceful style is cool and calming, while the staff are warm and welcoming, greeting visitors with a glass of fresh juice and broad smiles. Because there are so few rooms, they are able to give excellent service (including an amazing welcome ceremony!) and make sure your visit is as relaxing as possible.

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.


  • Family-friendly with lovely pool, interconnecting rooms, kids menu and large 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 beautiful rooms, all with high ceilings and antique furniture; we particularly liked the 2 suites in the main house, with their 4-poster beds and glass-roofed bathrooms
  • Delicious food with special requests and diets accommodated
  • Great base for exploring the coast and historic Galle


  • The hotel is located just inland, but it's only a 15-minute walk to the beach, and the rural surroundings of verdant rice paddies offers a more authentic slice of Sri Lanka
  • No bathtubs in the rooms
  • Guests at the hotel may hear barking from local dogs at night
  • Strict cancellation policy

Best time to go

The best time to visit Sri Lanka is between November and April when it's mainly dry on the south and west coasts (the main beach areas). May and June are the wettest months of the year; July and August are pleasant but the Indian Ocean is rough. September and October can be sunny, but heavy rain, humidity and high seas are typical.

Our top tips

Ask the hotel to arrange a couple of bespoke activities for you - perhaps a tour of nearby tea and cinnamon plantations or a guided bike ride through the paddy fields.

Great for...

Great Outdoors
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 10 rooms
  • Restaurant + bar
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • Beach Nearby
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • WiFi
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service
  • Yoga pavilion


Why House is spread across a number of buildings. The look is simple, traditional Sri Lankan luxury: white walls and polished dark-wood furniture. 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.

Our favourites are the 2 Suites, which both sit off the colonaded communal area in the sociable main house. They have 4-poster beds, windows on 2 sides letting in plenty of light, and double doors leading to living areas (which can accommodate 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 2 single beds so works for a family. The Garden Bungalows can interconnect so are also a great option for families. 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.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • DVD player
  • Extra beds
  • Family friendly
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • Phone
  • Radio
  • Safe box
  • Satellite TV
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries


Meals are served in the convivial dining pavilion, an open-sided building near the main house. Henrietta is usually around, and she'll often hop between tables to chat with her guests. If you’d prefer some privacy, you can dine à deux in various locations in the gardens or by the pool.

The food is a mix of Western, Lebanese and Sri Lankan. We tucked into the best curry we had during our whole trip on one evening, and a Lebanese feast 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 spread of fresh fruit, curd, cereals and toast, 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. We headed to buzzy Wijaya Beach Restaurant, which serves delicious oven-baked pizzas and sunset beers overlooking the ocean.

Features include:

  • Children's meals
  • Communal dining
  • Family friendly
  • Fridge
  • Organic produce
  • Restaurant
  • Room service
  • Tuk-tuk to restaurants (offsite)
  • Vegetarian options
Eating: Dining


  • Relax around the pool with a glass of fruit juice, enjoy a yoga session, book an Ayurvedic treatment or massage with a visiting therapist, or aqua aerobics classes
  • 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 the 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
  • Cycling
  • Elephant rides
  • Fishing
  • Historical sites
  • Kayaking
  • Museums / galleries
  • Pool rugby, badminton & volleyball
  • Private guided tours
  • Scuba diving
  • Shopping / markets
  • Snorkelling
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Turtle hatchery
  • Well being
  • Whale watching
  • Wildlife


Families will adore Why House, the gorgeous pool works really well for all ages and the lawned, walled gardens are great for tearing about and exploring. Children will also like the stuffed dachshund dog awaiting them in the room. We went with our 2-year-old twins and it was unanimously our favourite hotel in Sri Lanka. There’s also a great kids menu and staff are extremely accommodating. Most rooms can fit an extra bed.

Why House is also ideal for big family reunions. All details of a stay can be personalised including special meals, entertainment and events, along with bespoke activities for guests such as fun tuk tuk scavenger hunts around Galle Fort.

Best for:

All ages

Family friendly accommodation:

The 2 main house Suites are good for families, as each can fit 2 rollaway beds. The 2 Garden Bungalows can interconnect so also work well for families. One of the Garden Double rooms has a mezzanine floor with 2 single beds on it, in addition to the double bed below. 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 equipment:

  • Baby cot

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

Children's meals:

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
Kid Friendly:


Why House is in the small village of Mihiripenna. It's 9-10km south of Galle, 20 minutes drive from Galle Fort itself, and 4-5km from Unawatuna on the southwest coast of Sri Lanka.

By Air:
Colombo Bandaranaike International (161km away) is the closest airport - click on the links below for a list of airlines serving it.

From the Airport
It takes around 2 hours by car to reach Talpe from Colombo airport and you can arrange a transfer through the hotel. Alternatively, Sri Lankan Airlines runs a convenient air taxi service from Colombo airport to Koggala. From there you can jump in a tuk-tuk.

By Bus / Train:
Take a bus or train to Habaraduwa, then a tuk-tuk to the hotel (4-5km).

Getting Around
If you want to hire a driver and car for your whole holiday, enquire through our Tailormade Tour Operator. The hotel can also arrange a driver and car hire by the day.

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

More on getting to Sri Lanka and getting around


  • Colombo Bandaranaike International 161.0 km CMB


  • Beach 1.0 km
  • Shops 0.5 km
  • Restaurant 0.5 km

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