The big trip

Amanwella hotel review: Sri Lanka’s southern comfort

With spacious suites, spectacular sea views and glorious sunsets, Amanwella is the perfect beach retreat

Aman Hotels

Before the sun sets over southern Sri Lanka, its golden light settles on a perfect sandy beach, fringed by a grove of coconut palms and an artful collection of just 30 luxury villas.

As it sinks towards a ridge of trees, the last place you will glimpse it is from Amanwella’s airy cocktail bar, high on a headland overlooking the rest of the resort – and the ideal venue to see out the evening.

Amanwela, Sri Lanka

Holden Frith

What to do

Your first stop is likely to be the beach (below), a glorious stretch of sand with shady palms and sunloungers, as well as cold drinks on demand. 

The sea itself can be boisterous – there are proper waves here – but it’s safe for swimming. Early mornings are best if you prefer calm waters, afternoons if you want to grab a body board and play in the breakers. The swimming pool, which is very nearly 50m long, is warm and welcoming at any time of the day.

Wellness is thoroughly integrated at Weligama, not only in the relaxed, rejuvenating vibe that permeates the resort, but also in the treatments it offers. Instead of being confined to a separate spa, they are offered in your own private suite – or on the beach. Yoga classes, either private or as part of a group, can also be arranged, as can meditation with a monk.

For an unusual sundowner cruise, the Amanwella team can transport you to the hotel’s “floating lounge” on the nearby Mawella lagoon. Your crew will provide the champagne and the commentary, while nature lays on a display of pelicans, kingfishers and, of course, a spectacular sunset.

Amanwela beach, Sri Lanka

Holden Frith

Further afield

The hotel is within striking distance of the verdant Sinharaja forest reserve, as well as the historic town of Galle, whose narrow streets and enticing cafes are well worth a day trip.

Yala national park (below), home to leopards, bears and elephants, is a little further away, but a two-night stay there (at either Chena Huts or the Wild Coast Tented Lodge), with early morning game drives, combines well with a relaxing stay at Amanwella.

Yala National Park, Sri Lanka

Holden Frith

What to eat

Everyone should order Amanwella’s Sri Lankan feast at least once, and potentially far more often. An opulent selection of richly spiced curries, fiery sambals and soothing coconut rice, it provides an excellent introduction to the island’s invigorating cuisine.

There is also an international menu, with strong Mediterranean and Asian influences, in which fresh seafood plays a starring role. 

A complimentary afternoon tea is served in the bar, a beautiful glass-walled building, classically furnished and well stocked with international wines and spirits. Linger over tea and you won’t have to wait long until cocktail hour...

For a change of scene, the Anantara Peace Haven resort, in the next bay, offers a range of restaurants. Aga Surf View, on the other side of the hotel, offers excellent casual dining – as well as fantastic coffee and cakes.

When to go

Southern Sri Lanka is warm and humid throughout the year, with temperatures reaching within a degree or two of 30C most days. The main monsoon season runs from October to December, while April and May are also slightly wetter than the months either side of them. January to March and June to September are generally dry and sunny, although tropical downpours are always a possibility.

Booking details

Rooms available for two people sharing from about £550 per night on the Amanwella website. SriLankan Airlines flies non-stop from London to Colombo from about £840 return. Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad fly via the Middle East from several UK cities, from about £550. 

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