The RAF chose this grand old house as their headquarters during the Second World War, with good reason. It’s a scant half hour from all the delights of Colombo, a swift drive from the airport, and yet seems in the middle of tropical nowhere. The Wallawwa has to be the best place to start or finish a stay in Sri Lanka.
Sprawling gardens, spot lit by almost neon flowers amidst an expanse of green, enhance the prevailing sense of peace. There are just eighteen rooms to choose from. Each is thoughtfully laid out, with four poster beds and terrazzo lined bathrooms and rain showers. For a one-night stop over from and to the airport, a standard room more than suffices, for longer stays, the suites, in particular the Mountbatten, with its private pool might be more the thing.
The Wallawwa is worth a long stay though – an elegant respite in a rural setting, close enough to Colombo to dip in and out of that fascinating commercial capital with ease, this old manor house is a destination in itself. This is partly due to the hotel’s Z Spa – a soothing and luxuriant space – but mostly due to the thoughtful touches throughout and the tropical gardens. The pool stretches out tiled blue and striking against the lush green surrounds, with loungers and a shallow ledge to linger on, well out of sight of the main building.
The colonial-style veranda is a fine spot for sun downers, but also for splendidly generous breakfasts or a superb supper. In between it is possible to order pretty much any thing that takes your fancy while settling into the smart rattan furniture, looking out over tropical trees and gardens. The menu is wide ranging, but the local curries and specialities are highlights of a stay here.