Family Hotel Review: The Wallawwa, Kotugoda, Sri Lanka
Positioned amongst three acres of Jungle Book type gardens, just 20 minutes from the international airport, The Wallawwa offers the perfect place to start or end your holiday. And, as the guestbook confirms, this is a wonderful place for children.
Best For: A family-friendly boutique retreat with all the trimmings; kids of all ages.
Reviewed by: Katja Gaskell
Why You’ll Love It
The wonderful Wallawwa is a stylish boutique hotel that has parents and kids jumping for joy. Positioned amongst three acres of Jungle Book type gardens, just 20 minutes from the international airport, the ‘W’ offers the perfect place to start or end your holiday. In fact, we like it so much we think you should stay twice.
Wallawwa means ‘colonial house’, and this 18th-century manor home once belonged to the head chieftain of Galle. In later years (1939 to be exact) the Wallawwa provided a base for the RAF under the command of Lord Mountbatten (today he has a suite named after him).
Today the single-storey home is a classy hideaway with 17 beautifully furnished bedrooms and suites (all Balinese wood and bright, floral fabrics), a wonderful garden, fantastic restaurant and excellent Z Spa. Spend your days swimming in the slate-lined pool, relaxing with a massage or two and indulging in the Mad Hatter inspired tiered plate of cakes during afternoon tea.
Why The Kids Will Love It
As the guestbook at the family-friendly Wallawwa confirms, this is a wonderful hotel for children. Sure it might look like a member of the Design Hotels but the atmosphere is so relaxed and the staff so helpful, that kids of all ages automatically feel like they’ve arrived home.
Plus, a lot of thought has gone into making this a family-friendly destination. From the Family Suites and complimentary baby cots for infants under two years to the in-room games (Jenga, Uno and a Rubik’s Cube) and the excellent kids’ menu, a stay here with kids is simply easy. There’s even a Kidz massage at the Spa that’s been specifically designed to help relax little ones.
The garden is wild and jungly full of tropical plants including the magically-named cannonball flowers, there are cricket bats and croquet mallets, the library is stocked with board games and there’s a computer for kids’ to use on rainy days. And if you do feel like leaving the cosy confines of the hotel then the beaches of Negombo and the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage are both easy day trips away.
The 17 enormous bedrooms and suites share the same Indonesian feel as the rest of the property. The rooms enjoy high ceilings, plenty of light and are furnished with king-size four-poster Balinese beds are draped in white linen. The bathrooms are vast and come polished cement floors and high-powered monsoon showers. Spa style bathroom products are available to use but not take away. In room facilities include flat screen TV with satellite channels, WiFi, coffee/tea making facilities, an electronic safe and, our personal favourite, in-room games of Jenga, Uno and a Rubiks’ Cube.
Wallawwa Bedroom There are two of these rooms (35 sqm) one with a king-size bed and the other with large four poster twin beds.
Garden Suites The 12 garden suites (55 sqm) are more spacious and have a sitting area opening onto a small private veranda and garden. These rooms come with either a king-size bed or twin beds. These rooms have a window seat that can be transformed into an extra bed.
Family Suites There are two family suites (90 sqm) each consisting of a Garden Suite and an inter-connecting twin Wallawwa Bedroom, which has its own separate entrance and bathroom.
Mountbatten Suite (150 sq. metres) This vast suite has a large sitting room, additional twin bedroom for children, and a private garden with a plunge pool. This is the only room to have a bathtub in the ensuite bathroom.
Best Rooms for Families: The Wallawwa Bedrooms can accommodate a baby cot but nothing more. The Garden Suites have an extra bed (a window seat that is transformed into an extra bed) that is ideal for younger kids. These rooms can also accommodate a baby cot. The Family Suite is made up of one Garden Suite and one twin Wallawwa Bedroom and works well for larger families or families with big kids and teens. The Mountbatten Suite is a two-bedroom suite that comes with one king-size bed and two queen-size beds. It can also accommodate an additional baby cot. Baby baths can be provided upon request.
Food: Opening onto the garden is The Verandah the main dining space at The Wallawwa. It’s a lovely place to eat with red-cushioned rattan chairs, tiled floors and ceiling fans whirring overhead. You may also choose to eat in the garden or in your room. The menu is Asian Fusion with a strong emphasis on Sri Lankan cuisine. The food is phenomenal and easily some of the best that we sampled in Sri Lanka. The daily breakfast includes fruit juices and a fruit platter, freshly brewed Sri Lanka coffee of tea, homemade pastries and then a choice of eggs cooked to your liking. Other options include eggs benedict, French toast, American pancakes and buffalo curd with jiggery, sugar or treacle.
The lunch menu is also the all day dining menu and offers light bites and more substantial meals (homemade beef burgers and coconut and mustard seed fish curry).
Dinner is phenomenal and is largely Sri Lankan fare. On offer when we stayed were grilled Mahi Mahi fillets, slow braised pork belly, cadju nut and green pea curry (amazing) and Ceylonese red chicken curry. One of the most popular dishes is the Malay beef curry. The desert menu is equally impressive with homemade wasabi and chilli and jaggery ice cream to choose from.
For Kids: The kids’ menu is fantastic with spaghetti Napolitana, cannelloni with spinach and cheese, fish and chips, tuna kebab, grilled chicken and a range of milkshakes all on offer. High chairs are available. High Tea is served daily between 3pm and 5.30pm and is generally a huge hit with kids. 24-hour room service is available.
Activities for Parents: Ease into your holiday with a soothing massage at the Z Spa, lie by the pool, lounge in the library, take a day trip to Colombo and enjoy lunch at the famous Galle Face Hotel, head to nearby Negombo for a day at the beach and head out to sea on a traditional catamaran, or tee off at the Royal Colombo golf course.
Activities for Kids: Kids aged two to 17 can enjoy a Kidz massage at the spa (the only requirement is that they lie still for 30 minutes!), indulge in afternoon tea, visit the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage and watch these playful creatures splash in the river, explore the tropical gardens and search for the wonderfully named cannonball flowers, swim in the pool, bowl an over or two of cricket and then challenge your parents to a game of croquet.
A/C, common rooms, cots available, doctor on call, extra beds available, inter-connecting rooms, kids’ activities, kids’ menu, laundry, pushchair-friendly, spa, swimming pool, WiFi.
At the time of writing the rates were as follows:
Wallawwa Bedroom: Rates from USD $160 – 225
Garden Suite: Rates from USD $195 – 280
Mountbatten Suite: Rates from USD $360 – 460
Family Suite: Rates from USD $275 – 355
Rates depend on time of year and all rates are subject to applicable Government taxes and Service Charge, totalling 26.71%. Please contact the hotel directly.
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.
Location & Travel:
The Wallawwa is located near the town of Kotugoda, 10 km from Colombo airport in Sri Lanka.
Contact This Hotel
For more information or to make a booking enquiry, visit the hotel’s website by following the link below:
Reviewer’s Top Tips!
1) Bring insect repellent; the gardens are lovely but filled with mosquitoes when we visited!
2) Enjoy the hotel, you’ll have plenty of time for sightseeing later, this is the perfect hotel in which to sit back and relax.
3) Have afternoon tea! The food is amazing at the Wallawwa, we left several kilos heavier than we arrived.
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