Upon landing in Colombo international airport,
we made our way to the baggage claim area in what was one of the busiest, most bustling airports we had experienced thus far on our journey. The fact that it was also humid and in the 90's didn't help much. Luckily our driver was right there waiting for us to escort us to the hotel. He quickly grabbed our luggage and we hopped into the air conditioned van! Ahh, it felt so good as the humidity, coupled with the crowded airport made the 90 degrees feel more like 110. He handed us a cold towel and some ice cold water which was perfection at that very moment. The ride to the hotel reminded me a little of a blend between Cambodia, Thailand and Costa Rica, as there were tuck-tucks everywhere and the surroundings looked very tropical. The ride was quick, just 20 minutes or so and we had arrived.
The minute we took the left turn off the main road and entered the property of The Wallawwa, you get a feeling like you have entered another world; as in a little hideaway or retreat amongst all the hustle and bustle of the fasting moving city life. The grounds have a spiritual and zen-like vibe, you immediately start to feel relaxed; which reminded me of the feeling you get heading into a relaxing spa treatment.
We were greeted with a very warm welcome by our host, and were provided with some cold lemon infused towels and two delicious welcome drinks(I can never get enough of those towels, I love them). Since the sun was going to set soon, our host wanted to provide us with a quick tour around the property. The expansive grounds sit on 5 acres of lush tropical landscape, that is manicured to perfection. The beautiful colonial style boutique hotel has 17 rooms/suites and is historic, retaining quite a bit of history.
Originally the house was owned by that of Nicholas Dias-Abeyesinghe and family, ‘Maha Mudaliyar’ (Head Chieftain), of Galle. Later, during the period of 1939-1945, the property was occupied by the Royal Air Force, which was the time when Lord Mountbatten was Commander-in-Chief of the South-East Asian command – of which the headquarters were located in Ceylon.
A little history in regards to the name: Wallawwa. In Sinhala, the term “Walauwa” or “Wallawwa” is used to express the Sinhala concept of aristocracy as well as the physical location of the primary seat of a particular Sinhala family who enjoy high connections to the local kings or colonial masters. There is evidence that dates back to the 18th century indicating that The Wallawwa is the most ancient of its kind in the entire province.
The special combination of the serene setting and the history of the property, really allow guests an escape or getaway from any outside noise or distractions. This is really a place to get away from it all, let go, and simply relax.
Speaking of relaxing, there are so many unique spaces throughout the acreage to do just that...
They have a game room (i.e. board games, cards, etc.) and library,
a business room with a computer you can use, a gift shop if you want to purchase a little something for yourself or a souvenir to bring back home,
they have a gorgeous spa (which we didn’t get to try, but it is on the list when we come back),
they have a beautiful manicured open grass area with games that can be played like croquet, lawn bowling, etc.,
they have walking trails to explore the beautiful lush landscape,
and one of the main highlights for me was their spectacular pool area and lounge, which is in a very tranquil setting.
And just to the left of the pool area is yet another expansive lawn with chaise lounge chairs and umbrellas setup to be enjoyed.
There are several other large open areas around the property with lounge furniture and tables where you can just sit back and enjoy a good book, take a nap, order food or open up your laptop and get some work done. (Note: they have a great Wi-Fi throughout the venue, you just need to connect once to the network and you are online no matter where you decide to relax for the day)
After our tour, we decided to unwind a little and enjoy some white wine in their restaurant lounge area prior to getting ready for dinner.
After the wine we headed back to our room which was located in another wing of the property, down a long hallway, which opens up to another beautiful landscaped garden area.
Wow, the rooms are beautiful with tall ceilings and they retain the perfect blend between the colonial and serene spa-like feel that the rest of the property has.
We had a garden room, so outside our patio was a beautiful table and chairs overlooking gorgeous views of bamboo stretching up into the sky.
The bathroom is also quite large and beautiful with the same spa like feel to it.
For dinner we had checked out their menu when we had the wine, so we knew we wanted to eat there. Every staff member was so nice and friendly and that didn’t stop with the waiters (Kapila) who assisted us with the menu, offering lots info about each dish we had questions about. We wanted to order everything Sri Lankan so we had them pick out some starters and the best entrees for us to try.
For the starters we had their yam chips and grilled cuttlefish (squid)...both were fantastic.
For the entrees we had their vegetable curry and fish curry and when it arrived we were very happy as each entree comes with many other dishes such as daal, chilies, and other curry dishes which are meant to be eaten together. We asked for everything to be spicy (8 on a scale of 1-10) and they delivered right on point.
For dessert we opted for the healthy route and went with their fresh fruit platter.
Day#2 / Departure
For breakfast we headed over to the restaurant area and grabbed a seat overlooking the beautiful garden.
I went the somewhat boring route and had my typical egg whites with grilled tomatoes and mushrooms and a platter of fresh fruit and juice (it was fantastic by the way).
And Jamie was the big winner by going for the traditional Sri Lankan breakfast which consisted of mung beans and coconut rice served with cashew curry and chili's….wow was this delicious. Sadly, Jamie couldn’t finish it all so of course I was happy to help. (Note: If you are interested in the Sri Lankan breakfast, please check with your host the day before as it takes time to prepare and sometimes you will need to request this dish in advance.)
For the rest of the morning we lounged in one of the areas looking out over the grass and waited there until our driver arrived to pick us up to take us to our next destination on our journey.
The Wallawwa is an absolute must visit if you have a stop-over in or around Colombo or even if you don’t and are planning to visit for a few days. The peaceful ambiance, great service, fantastic food and proximity to the airport(~20-25 min) make it a superb choice. I love how expansive the property is, you can really feel the breadth of all 5 acres. They have done a great job maximizing the space with how many different areas you can go an not see a single person. During our stay, they were over 60% booked and we only saw one other guest the whole time. Our only complaint is that we didn’t have enough time here. Next time we would love to lounge in all the different areas, take a dip in the gorgeous pool and get a spa treatment, which looks to be a terrific experience.
My favorite thing about this property is the feeling you get the minute you take that turn off the main road and enter the premises. The common words I have been using of serene, peaceful, zen-like, tranquil, spiritual all ring true about The Wallawwa. It is everything you would want when you just want to get away or escape from it all. Even-though we ran out of time for that spa treatment, we still left with the benefits as if we did.
Looking forward to our return trip back so that we can take advantage of all the amenities The Wallawwa has to offer. See you soon…