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The Big Six: Sri Lankan retreats


Cinnamon Bey, Beruwala

This luxurious 200-room resort opened on the golden sands of Sri Lanka's south-west coast last month. Located in the small fishing village of Beruwala – which was first settled by Muslim traders in the 8th century – the hotel nods towards the area's Arabic roots with intricate Mashrabiya windows, lattice work, mosaics and vibrant colours. Work your way through eight restaurants, relax at the spa or venture out to the Sinharaja forest, home to purple-faced langurs, butterflies, birds and reptiles.

Cinnamon Bey, Moregalle, Beruwala (00 94 34 229 7000; cinnamonhotels.com). Doubles start at US$190 (£119), including breakfast.

Lunuganga, Bentota

A decade after his death, Geoffrey Bawa endures as Sri Lanka's most eminent architect. During his prolific career, he built schools, hospitals, hotels and government buildings – but his real labour of love was Lunuganga. After buying it in 1947, when it was still a tropical wilderness, Bawa spent the next 50 years sculpting his dream home. It stands on the shore of Dedduwa lake, with peaceful gardens and six bedrooms decorated with antiques, sculptures and artwork from the architect's personal collection.

Lunuganga, Dedduwa, Bentota (00 94 34 428 7056; lunuganga.com). Doubles start at US$185 (£116), B&B.

Amangalla, Galle

Amangalla rests inside the ramparts of the 17th-century Dutch fort at Galle, overlooking the town's historic harbour. One of two Aman properties in Sri Lanka (the other is in the seaside resort of Tangalle), it oozes period charm, with teak floorboards, chaises longues and planters' chairs scattered amid its compact collection of 28 rooms and suites. A breezy veranda spans the full length of the ground floor, leading to the Great Hall, with soaring ceilings, chandeliers and an extensive library. Amangalla, 10 Church Street, Galle (00 94 91 223 3388; amanresorts.com). Doubles start at US$500 (£312), room only.

Ulagalla Resort, Thirappane

Ulagalla is in the heart of Sri Lanka's "cultural triangle", with the Sacred City of Anuradhapura to the north, the city of Kandy – home to the sacred Temple of the Tooth – to the south and the ancient rock fortress at Sigiriya to the east. It offers 12 secluded and solar-powered chalets (each with a private plunge pool) and one villa, all set amid 58 acres of lush paddy fields, rugged scrubland, lily-covered pools and lakes.

Ulagalla Resort, Ulagalla Road, Thirappane (00 94 11 567 1000; ulagallaresorts.com). Doubles start at US$403 (£252), including breakfast.

Casa Colombo, Colombo

Casa Colombo is a flamboyant 12-suite retreat set within a 200-year-old Moorish mansion in the capital. The look inside is altogether modern, with natty neon lighting breathing new life into the historic building, with its mosaics and carved ceilings. Its owner-cum-designer, Lalin Jinasena, used local craftsmen and materials to create everything from beds to bathtubs – but the overall concept is entirely his own. The Zaza bar is the place to sip Ceylon tea by day and sink cocktails by night amid flickering candles.

Casa Colombo, 231 Galle Road, Colombo (00 94 11 452 0130; casacolombo.com). Doubles start at US$200 (£125), B&B.

Ceylon Tea Trails, Hatton

Perched high in Sri Lanka's picturesque Central Highlands, this working tea estate harks back to a bygone era. Its four self-contained bungalows are spread throughout the fields in the Bogawantalawa Valley – with some separated by a distance of up to 15km. They are united inside by butler service and a private chef, king-sized beds and rain showers. Guests can take a tour of the estate to learn how Ceylon tea is harvested or go hiking and mountain biking through its undulating green pastures.

Ceylon Tea Trails, Hatton (00 94 11 230 3888; teatrails.com). Doubles start at €381, all inclusive.