Family Hotel Review: Why House, Nr Galle, Sri Lanka
Combining the best of boutique hotels with all the things we love about private villas is the beautiful Why House positioned within two acres of tropical gardens just down the road from Galle Fort.
Best For: Fun-filled family gatherings; kids of all ages.
Reviewed by: Islay Lord
Why You’ll Love It
Combining the best of boutique hotels with all the things we love about private villas is the beautiful Why House. Located on the south coast near Galle, this eight-bedroom hotel can be rented either by room or as a whole as an exclusive, fully-staffed house – perfect for that large family gathering!
British-born Henrietta owns the property and runs a tight ship, making sure that all requests – no matter how big or small – are handled promptly and efficiently. Her second in command is Sanath, the manager, and between them they ensure that you have everything you need for a wonderful family holiday.
The eight bedrooms are divided between three properties, the Main House, the Garden Villa and the Cabanas. These are set within two acres of tropical gardens alongside a fantastic swimming pool and spacious living areas with views across the neighbouring paddy fields. Meals are prepared in the open-kitchen and served at communal tables overlooking the gardens.
Despite feeling like there’s no one else around when you’re staying here, you are in fact just a short tuk-tuk ride away from some of the area’s best beaches as well as charming Galle Fort.
Why The Kids Will Love It
The Why House is an excellent choice for families. There’s a good range of accommodation options; we particularly liked the Main House Suites that each have an anteroom where up to two children can sleep. If you’re travelling with friends (or organising that long overdue family reunion) then you can rent one of the Villas (either the Main House, Garden Villa or Cabanas) or the property in its entirety.
But more than just the accommodation, the hotel has really thought about its younger guests. Badminton rackets, footballs, rugby balls, volleyball nets and board games are all available and the chef will happily arrange cooking lessons and cupcake decorating sessions for kids. The gardens are perfect for exploring and younger kids have the freedom to roam while you keep an eye on them from the dining area.
Even better, however, are the ‘extra’ activities’ that the Why House can organise. Ask them to book an afternoon with an elephant and enjoy a ride around the garden before helping to feed and wash this gentle creature. Local magicians can come and preform tricks and the snake man has been known to turn up with his python and monkey in tow. And if all that’s not enough, the neighbouring beaches offer kayaking, surfing, snorkelling and much, much more.
Why House is made up of the Main House (two suites and a triple room), the Garden Villa (three doubles) and two Cabanas, each with a double room. All rooms come with satellite TV and DVD player, mini bar, safe and fabulous bathrooms with glass ceilings above the shower – an outdoor shower indoors! There are no baths but a baby bath was produced at a moment’s notice when we requested a bucket in which to bathe our children!
Main House: The two suites each have an anteroom and these rooms can sleep four comfortably making them ideal for families. The triple room has a double room and a single bed. The three bedrooms come with kingsize four-poster beds decorated with hand-stitched bedcovers. Each has a private veranda.
Cabanas: The cabanas are great fun. Each comprise a pair of octagonal cabanas linked by a private walkway. The sleeping cabana comes with a four-poster double bed, a writing desk and wardrobe and the bathing cabana comes with twin sinks and a shower. Both cabanas overlook the garden. These rooms are popular with couples.
Garden Villa: The Garden Villa houses three rooms; one large room that can accommodate two adults and two children, a slightly smaller room that can accommodate two adults and one child and a garden room with a double bed. These rooms also have a private veranda.
The property is also available to rent in its entirety. Why House can accommodate 20 guests in total.
Best rooms for families: The two suites in the Main House are ideal for families with two children as is the large room in the Garden Villa. The Cabanas are best left to couples. There is no charge for infants of the cots that the hotel provides; 3 – 13 year olds are charged a small rate per night.
Guests have reported great things about the food at the Why House and the food when we visited was excellent. Guests can eat at communal tables in the main dining room with 360-degree views of the garden, or at separate tables. Head chef Kumara sources fresh produce from local markets and makes the most of the plentiful fish and seafood that’s available.
Breakfast: The breakfast buffet offers international and Sri Lankan options including American style pancakes, croissants and English muffins, omelettes and lots of fresh fruit. Sri Lankan dishes include curries, string hoppers and sambals. Sri Lankan breakfasts must be ordered the night before. We enjoyed the most delicious curd/yogurt and they even bought cornflakes for our unadventurous daughter.
Lunch & Dinner: The lunch menu includes salads, soups, homemade hamburgers, club sandwiches, pasta and pizza and a handful of house specialities such as nasi goreng. The dinner menu features dishes from around the world such as roast chicken or lamb, Sri Lankan curries, Thai curries and even Bajan style fried fish with fries. Expect plenty of fresh seafood too, when we visited we enjoyed whole red mullet, calamari, prawns, crab and seared tuna. The deserts are equally tasty; expect very good banoffee pie, passion fruit ice cream and coconut pie. If the hotel is full then a more ‘family’ approach is taken to dinner with everyone eating the same thing for example from a buffet or BBQ. If the hotel is quiet then you are more likely to be asked earlier in the day what you would like that evening and given a choice.
Afternoon Tea: Homemade cakes and biscuits are served with tea and coffee whenever you fancy it; by the pool or on your verandah. There’s also a Nespresso machine although you have to pay extra for it.
For Kids: There is a kids’ menu but because the hotel is so small you can pretty much ask for anything you want. We had excellent pasta with fresh sauces, grilled fish, fish goujons, lasagne, grilled chicken and mash.
Activities for Parents
Jump in a tuk tuk and head to the historical coastal town of Galle. Wander the colourful streets, visit the Dutch churches, and go 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 Wijaya for surfing, snorkelling and swimming.
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
Ask the hotel to book an elephant for the afternoon and enjoy rides around the garden before helping to feed and wash it.
Come face-to-face with a python and monkey when the snake man comes to call or enjoy a performance by a local magician instead.
Take a tuk tuk ride to gorgeous Unawatuna Beach or visit Galle Fort and watch the locals dive off the fort ramparts.
Head to Mirissa and set sail on a whale watching trip; this corner of Sri Lanka is home to Blue whales and more.
Ride the waves at Weligama beach for a half-day surfing.
The hotel has all the equipment you need for games of badminton, pool rugby, volleyball or cricket quoits.
The chef can organise cooking classes for kids as well as cupcake-decorating afternoons.
A/C, babysitting can be arranged, common areas, handful of baby cots available, doctor on call, nearest hospital is in Galle, 10 km away, the Main House Suites can accommodated two rollaway beds each, the large Garden Room can take a single bed and a cot, the other rooms can accommodate a baby cot, the large Garden Room interconnects with the next-door room, kids’ activities, kids’ dining facilities, laundry, no hotel shop but shops nearby, small spa with Ayurvedic treatments, swimming pool, travel desk, WiFi complimentary and available throughout the property.
At the time of writing rates were as follows:
1 Rm Main House or Garden House or 1 Cabana: US $ 315
1 Superior Suite in Main House: US $390
Main House 2 Suites + 1 Double Room: US $1000
Garden House 3 Double Rooms: US $850
Cabanas 2 Double Rooms: US $600
Villa Rates for the entire villa
Personal and Private Rental ALL Rooms: US $2,450
Rates are per room per night and include breakfast and taxes.
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:
Why House is located 10 km from Galle, on the South West coast of Sri Lanka.
Colombo’s Bandaranaike International Airport is Sri Lanka’s only international airport. From here destinations include India, Dubai, Malaysia and Singapore. Sri Lankan Airlines operates a daily air taxi service from Colombo to Koggala Lake, near Galle (1 hr). The hotel can organise airport pick-ups and drop-offs.
Galle Railway Station is the main train terminus in Galle. In Colombo the main railway station is Colombo Fort. Trains run daily along the west coast and take about three hours to do the journey from Colombo to Galle. Apart from a handful of journeys, you cannot book train tickets online. Reservations for trains with reserved seating such as InterCity Express trains open 10-14 days in advance. For those with ‘unreserved seats’ you simply buy your ticket at the time of travel.
Why House is 155 km from Colombo airport and takes 3 to 4 hours to drive. The tiny coastal Galle Road links the beachside towns along the west coast although the new E01 Expressway, the island’s first motorway that opened at the end of 2011, has cut down the journey time considerably. The motorway does not currently link to the airport so you still have to travel through the congested eastern suburbs of Colombo before you reach the open road.
Contact The HotelFor more information or to make a booking enquiry, visit the hotel’s own website by following the link below:
Reviewer’s Top Tips!
Reviewed by: Islay Lord
1) Don’t be put off by not being by the beach. You’re away from the busy coastal road and only a 3 minute tuk tuk ride from Wijaya beach. Enjoy the lush gardens and peaceful atmosphere of the Why House!
2) This was the most relaxing holiday we’ve had yet with our two kids! Staying at the Why House is almost like being in your own villa with absolutely everything laid on– it was wonderful!
3) Bring snorkelling kit, especially for kids.
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