Of all the hotels we visited in Sri Lanka on our trip in January 2024, Malabar Hill might just be our favourite.
A relative newcomer (it sort-of opened during Covid but is only really spreading its wings now), Malabar Hill is one of those places that seems to have got everything spot on right off the bat – a stunning location, beautiful design, great facilities, and top notch food.
Malabar Hill is located about 10 minutes inland from the coastal town of Weligama, on a 33-acre hilltop site that used to be a cinnamon plantation. In all honesty, Weligama wasn’t exactly our favourite bit of Sri Lanka, but it’s very much worth stopping off here for a couple of days if you can stay at Malabar Hill, as it’s a totally different world to the slightly chaotic beachside town. Just a few minutes out of town, the traffic dies down and you are suddenly driving through lush green rice paddy fields, and a sharp turn up a hill through thick forest brings you to Malabar Hill. Perched high up, it has some incredible views, both looking back towards the coast and then further out to rolling hills and country scenery.
Aside from the striking views, the interior design is also notable for its uniqueness amongst Sri Lanka’s many Geoffrey Bawa tribute tropical hotels – lovely as those are, it’s nice to see Malabar Hill taking a totally different approach, combining Moorish and Indian influences to create the feel of a glamorous private home. There is just one central building, a two floored pavilion that houses the open-air restaurant and bar on the upper floor, and an airy shaded living room / salon on the ground floor leading out to the gardens, which features a huge 30-metre infinity pool and day beds. Despite the design references from further afield, materials used are locally sourced from the handmade terracotta roof and floor tiles through to reclaimed timber doors and windows.
There are just 15 rooms on the property, all of which are standalone villas spread out across the crest of the hilltop. Each one is bright and spacious with warm textured walls, vintage furniture, oversized floor cushions and chunky wooden chests. Floor-to-ceiling glass doors open out onto private terraces with salt-water chlorinated infinity pools and built-in seating areas, from which you can gaze out at the spectacular scenery.
One of our favourite things about the location, aside from the the views, is actually getting out into the countryside. There are several walks and bike rides you can take in the local area and we loved a late afternoon stroll through the paddy fields and local villages, spotting monkeys, birds, and even the odd snake. The hotel also offers free bikes that allow you to go a little further down to a lake and wildlife reserve. It’s well worth exploring and getting a glimpse of Sri Lankan life away from the more touristy beach towns.
You can more than happily spend the entire day at Malabar Hill however. It’s so peaceful and quiet, and that infinity pool is one of the best we’ve seen. There’s also a schedule of activities and things to do around the property, and we were lucky to catch one of the twice-weekly yoga sessions that take place on the grass right next to the pool amongst swaying palm trees.
Breakfast is served up in the main restaurant or around the pool area if you prefer. There’s the usual line-up of western options – omelettes and even avocado on toast – but also local Sri Lankan breakfasts of curry and hoppers. We’d slightly OD’d on curry at this stage of our trip having been eating it for breakfast and dinner nearly every day, so we did actually stick to the lovely fresh fruit and egg dishes here. At dinner however, we went in for local grilled whole fish with rice, prawn and veg curries, and fresh tuna with a zesty green mango salad, all of which were excellent.
Malabar Hill is truly a special spot and we were absolutely blown away by the place. If you’re planning a Sri Lanka trip we’d highly recommend making a stay here a priority if you can. It’s not only the best hotel in the area, but probably one of the finest in the whole country, and well worth making a special journey for. We already can’t wait to go back.
A. Palalla, Borala Road, Weligama 81700, Sri Lanka
Source From srilankatravel
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