24-Hour Room Service: The Lighthouse, Sri Lanka

The lighthouse is an oasis of style on a Sri Lankan coastline that is sadly becoming overrun by concrete-block hotels. Perched on aspectacular rock outcrop outside the southern city of Galle, it was designed by Geoffrey Bawa, the country's most celebrated architect in a stylethat appears harmonious from without and radical from within.

The lighthouse is an oasis of style on a Sri Lankan coastline that is sadly becoming overrun by concrete-block hotels. Perched on aspectacular rock outcrop outside the southern city of Galle, it was designed by Geoffrey Bawa, the country's most celebrated architect in a stylethat appears harmonious from without and radical from within.

The reception is a large, cool, open space where everything seems hewn from the stone of the nearby mountains; the textures are earthy andminimal. The swimming pool (a sensible, neat square) overflows down a stone staircase and, wandering in from package-tour purgatory downthe road, you are instantly presented with a different landscape. Instead of reddening Anglo-Saxon tourists with over-visible guts, yourcompanions are suave, international glamour-types. My companion recognised a British fashion designer and a model.

The hotel is designed so that the bar, complete with full-sized snooker table, takes prime position on the first floor, looking down on the rocks andthe Indian Ocean below. With its sleek design and gently lit rows of single malts, it feels of an entirely different world to the ubiquitoustropical-themed beach bars that far-flung resort hotels are so enamoured of. Drinking here is rather a surreal experience, for with only oceanvisible below, the night's blackness makes it feel like you're on the deck of some very well-supplied spaceship.

Sri Lanka's seafood specialities are prepared well here: lobster and jumbo prawns, freshly caught and simply cooked, grilled with lemon or lime.Curiously, the Cinnamon Room - the main restaurant whose serenity is an overflow from the bar next door - doesn't serve traditional Sri Lankanfood. The manager said that neither visiting tourists nor wealthy Sri Lankans wanted the local cuisine, which says something about both groups.

Location, loccation, location

The Lighthouse Hotel is at Dadella, Galle, Sri Lanka (00 94 92 40 17, fax 00 94 92 40 21)

Galle is Sri Lanka's southern-most port and the old town, two miles from the hotel, is dominated by a massive Dutch colonial fortress. The town'sshops sell jewellery - gold, diamonds and cat's eyes, the local stone - at bargain prices and the view of the coast from the fortress is enchanting.

Transport: The hotel can organise a taxi to pick you up from Colombo's international airport - which is a three-hour ride away - for $40.

Are you lying comfortably?

Vision blended with consideration for guests - not always a factor in designer hotels - seem to be Geoffrey Bawa's forte. The bedrooms arelarge, light and sculpted in wood, and a sliding door to the bathroom means that you can languish in a huge tub and stare out at the oceanthrough the window.

Staying in touch

International telephones and CNN may come as a solace to some but seemed positively intrusive amid the tranquillity, althoughIndian MTV was a riveting experience. Your British mobile phone works there too, more's the pity.

The bottom line

Rooms start at $120 (£72) per night and discrimination reigns; if you can persuade them that you're a local, the rate is halved.

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