Why House

Galle & Environs, Sri Lanka Book from Book from £283 per night

Bijou 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.

Highs

  • 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 pool flanked by coconut palms and frangipani trees
  • Simple Sri Lankan luxury throughout, with colourful murals and photographs of old Ceylon

Lows

  • The main hotel isn't directly on the beach, but it's only a 15-minute walk away, and the area 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
World Favourite Family Hideaway

    Best rooms for families

    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.
  • Baby cot

Some equipment may need to be requested in advance

Available by arrangement

Kids menu available

  • 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
  • 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

Great for...

Beach
Family
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
Wedding
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 10
  • Restaurant + bar
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Babysitting
  • Creche / Kids Club
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service
  • Yoga pavilion
Room:

Rooms

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
  • Cots Available
  • DVD player
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Fridge
  • Hairdryer
  • Phone
  • Radio
  • Safe box
  • Satellite TV
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

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:

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

Activities

  • Relax around the pool with a glass of fruit juice, enjoy a yoga session, or 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 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
  • Yoga

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.
Kid Friendly:

Location

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

Airports:

  • Colombo Bandaranaike International 161.0 km CMB

Other:

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

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 3 independent reviews from i-escape guests

8/10
Room
9/10
Food
9/10
Service
9/10
Value
9/10
Overall

This was our best stay in Sri Lanka on our 3.5 week trip. We stayed for 5 nights and wished we could stay longer. It was very relaxed and felt like your own home. A luxurious stay and a very special place. The hospitality, food and surrounds were perfect. Thank you to all the team. We'll be back!

10/10,

Definitely enjoyed my few days with Henriette and team. Really felt at home and the food was amazing. I also enjoyed the morning bike ride, the evening Sri Lankan dance show and the elephant visit in the garden. This is a great place to come back to, as Henriette and her team take great care of you and make you feel at home.

10/10,

This is a very interesting place. From the first minute we felt very welcomed. Family-like staff that you are gonna miss when back home. Beautiful garden carefully maintained. Henrietta and Sanath managed to create a special "East meets West" athmosphere with the best of both worlds. The service is excellent, nothing too much to ask. In case of emergencies, they take their guests problems like their own and put all their heart to solving it. The real owner of the place is Jelly the dog, and our 3-year old wanted to bring Baboo to her school. We will be back.

9/10,

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