Family Hotel Review: Apa Villa, Thalpe, Nr Galle, Sri Lanka
A globetotting favourite is this family-friendly villa located on a private strip of beach just down the road from Galle Fort.
Best For: A dose of stellar Sri Lankan hospitality; kids of all ages.
Reviewed by: Katja Gaskell
Why You’ll Love It
This family-favourite hotel is a wonderful place to stay. Located just 8 km from Galle, the property is divided into three villas that house seven individual suites. The villas open onto a grassy lawn peppered with palm trees and the ocean beyond. At the centre of this tropical idyll lies a cobalt blue, 25m-infinity pool.
The seven suites are similar in style and design with separate sleeping and lounge areas. The beds are positioned on cement bases and sofas are built into the walls of the living area, separated by built-in wooden bookshelves. Every suite has its own veranda or terrace and it’s here where all meals are served.
You’re extremely well looked after Apa Villa too, all you need to do is ring the bell in your room and a member of staff will magically appear. Apa Villas is the creation of Hans Hoefer, the founder and publisher of Insight Guides. Having travelled the world creating guidebooks (the full collection can be seen in the lounge), he landed in Sri Lanka and used his experiences to build the perfect beach retreat. Steps lead from the property down to a narrow strip of beach beach and while the ocean is gorgeous to look at (and listen to at night) families should be aware that it is not safe for swimming owing to the rips and undertows. A number of equally beautiful sandy coves are not far away and these offer much safer swimming options.
Why The Kids Will Love It
Apa Villa is extremely easy with kids of all ages. Little kids will love splashing in the shallow stepped area of the infinity pool while you watch them from the veranda or one of the many sun loungers. The beach, while not great for swimming, is a fun to wander along in search of shells and hermit crabs.
There are a number of activities nearby that will appeal to big kids and teens in particular. Wijaya beach offers some excellent surfing opportunities, as does Kabalana or Weligama beach breaks (these are more suitable for beginners). You can rent a surfboard or book a lesson.Big kids and teens will love whale watching at Mirissa and children of all ages can enjoy glass bottom boat rides and splashing in the waves at Unawatuna. What we also like about Apa Villas is the accommodation that is wonderfully flexible for families.
The suites are very good sizes and there’s a combination of rooms to suit families of all sizes with kids of all ages. The garden is enclosed, which means you can keep an eye on little kids from the comfort of your terrace. Even better, children under 10 sleep and eat breakfast free of charge. In short, it’s the perfect Sri Lankan family beach retreat.
Apa Villa consists of three separate villas (Cinnamon, Cardamom and Saffron) that in turn house seven spacious suites. Each suite is open-plan with a sleeping and lounge area as well as a large ensuite bathroom. Six of the suites open onto the front garden with views over the pool and ocean beyond. Cinnamon Suite 2 opens onto a private walled garden. The décor is simple and beachy; every villa has heavy wooden doors and the lounge areas have built in sofas that double as extra beds. All beds come with mosquito nets and coils are placed outside every villa in the evenings.
Cinnamon Suite 1: This corner suite opens onto a shared veranda overlooking the garden. It houses one double bed and a single bed under one large canopied mosquito net. There’s also a separate dressing area.
Cinnamon Suite 2: This suite inter-connects with Cinnamon Suite 1. The lounge area opens onto a private walled garden. Inside you’ll find a double and a single bed.
Cinnamon Suite 3: The largest of the Cinnamon suites, this room has two double beds and two dressing tables as well as a master bathroom offering an additional outdoor shower. This is the only room not to have a lounge area. This room is positioned next to the library and communal lounge area.
Cardamom Villa 4: This suite opens onto the infinity pool and has a lounge area, bedroom, ensuite bathroom and walk-in dressing area. The veranda has a cement-based banquette to one side.
Cardamom Suite 5: This suite is identical to Suite 4 and shares a veranda with its neighbour where all meals are served.
Saffron Suite 6: This spacious suite has its own veranda overlooking the garden and ocean and comes with a double bedroom and extra large living area with built-in sofas on both sides of the room. This suite is also the only room to come with a bath.
Saffron Suite 7: This room is positioned in the corner and separated from Suite 6 by a lily pond. The property is also available to rent in its entirety or you may choose to hire one of the villas.
Best Rooms for Families: All the suites can accommodate two adults and two kids. Cinnamon Suite 1 interconnects with Cinnamon Suite 2 making it ideal for larger families or families with big kids and teens. Saffron Suite 6 is a good choice for larger families as it has a spacious living area with built-in sofas. Suites 6 and 7 are a good option for families travelling together or larger families requiring more space. None of the rooms have kettles, fridges or TVs.
Apa Villa’s food is fantastic and a real highlight of a stay here. All meals are served on the veranda outside your villa, unless you are with a big group in which case there is a large dining room available. Every Villa has its own bell that you can use to call a member of staff.
Breakfast is ready whenever you are and is served on your veranda. Breakfast includes fresh fruit, blended fruit juices, Ceylon tea or local grown coffee, eggs cooked to order, bacon, sausages and more. Traditional Sri Lankan breakfasts of plain or egg hoppers (a type of pancake made with rice flour, coconut milk and an egg) are also available although you must order them the night before. Hoppers are served with kiribath (a light, coconut curry) and sambol (spicy onion relish). The buffalo curd topped with treacle is delicious.
Guests are asked at breakfast whether they will have lunch or dinner at the villa so that the cooks can prepare accordingly. The lunch menu consist of light snacks including the fantastic Apa Villas Power Salad, hummus and pita bread, spring rolls, fried rice or noodles with vegetables, fish cutlets with salad and more. Dinner is a choice of continental or Sri Lanka and includes four courses. We loved the local dinners when we stayed and feasted nightly on soup, lots of curries and fantastic deserts. The continental dinner options include tuna steaks and Thai-style chicken with veggies and rice.
For Kids: The kids’ menu includes toasted sandwiches, fish cutlets and fries, spaghetti with fresh tomato sauce, fried chicken bites and more. The staff are more than happy to warm milk and wash bottles for infants. Teatime is between 3pm and 5pm daily when tea, scones and banana fritters are served. An all day dining menu is available until 6pm.
Activities for Parents: Wander the colourful streets of historical Galle, visit the Dutch churches and do some shopping. Enjoy a relaxing massage in the comfort of your own room and then lie by the pool with a good book. Visit the nearby beach of Unawatuna, a beautiful crescent of golden sand and turquoise waters. There’s also a dive centre here with qualified instructors for scuba diving enthusiasts. If you’ve timed your visit right, head to Galle Stadium and watch a game of international cricket. Marvel over the coastline on a dawn hot air balloon ride or hire a bicycle and explore the area at your own pace. Make an appointment with Juliet Coombe for a family-friendly tour around Galle Fort.
Activities for Kids: Run around the gardens and play around in the pool (there’s a stepped area for younger swimmers). The beach directly in front of Apa Villas is too rough for swimming but it’s a great place for finding hermit crabs and shells. Take your bucket and go beachcombing for treasure. Take a tuk tuk ride to gorgeous Unawatuna Beach or visit Galle Fort and watch the locals dive off the fort ramparts. Ride the waves with a surf lesson at Wijara Beach and treat yourself to a pizza afterwards. Head to Mirissa and set sail on a whale-watching trip; this corner of Sri Lanka is home to Blue whales and more. Visit Hummanya blowhole, thought to be the second biggest in the world. If you visit in October you may witness the annual Children’s Festival held over two days in Galle Fort. The event includes pottery and book making, treasure hunts and rock pooling adventures.
A/C, babysitting (for an additional charge), common areas, cots, doctor on call, nearest hospital is in Galle (7km), extra beds, inter-connecting rooms, kids’ dining facilities, laundry service, swimming pool, travel desk, WiFi.
Rates at the time of writing were as follows:
Cinnamon Suite 1: from USD $137 – 282
Cinnamon Suite 2: from USD $129 – 258
Cinnamon Suite 3: from USD $137 – 298
Cardamom Suite 4: from USD $149 – 209
Cardamom Suite 5: from USD $149 – 298
Saffron Suite 6: from USD $157 – 314
Saffron Suite 7: from USD $157 – 314
Rates shown are per room per night. Rates depend on season. Rates include accommodation and breakfast. Please contact the hotel directly for an exact quote based on your family’s requirements.
When to go:
The most popular time of year to visit Sri Lanka is from December to April. During these months the days are sunny and the sea serene. From May onwards the humidity rises and the rain begins to fall in stormy bursts until June. A second monsoon passes through from October to November, although the rainfall is unpredictable and showers never last for long. Visit at this time of year and make the most of discounted hotel rates! Book well in advance if you plan to visit over the Christmas period. This corner of tropical Sri Lanka enjoys an average temperature of 27C. The best months for whale watching are December to April.
Location & Travel:
Apa Villa is located in Thalpe, 8 km from Galle, on the South West coast of Sri Lanka.
Contact This Hotel
For more information or to make a booking enquiry, visit the hotel’s own website by following the link below:
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