The Saffron House occupies one of the finest locations on the south coast of Sri Lanka. Set in nearly three acres of tropical walled gardens, this fully staffed villa provides stunning panoramic ocean views, sea breezes, simple luxury and complete privacy.
The villa lies about 15 kms from the southern tip of the island and about 45 minutes from Galle. It has four double bedrooms, with extra beds available for children. All bedrooms have mosquito nets, fans and air conditioning, with en-suite bathrooms. The house has broadband Wi-Fi and receives a 3G signal.
The entrance gates lie up a quiet lane, 30 metres above sea level, the highest point on this small headland and sandwiched between two of Sri Lankaâ€™s most beautiful beaches, each just a few minutesâ€™ walk away. The villa mixes traditional and contemporary design, reflected in hand-built furniture, hand-finished floors and simple tropical architecture, all from local materials.
The house is set around a central paved courtyard, about 20 metres above sea level. The courtyard is flanked on two sides by a large covered veranda with an adjoining kitchen, an open veranda for sunbathing and a 6 x 10 metre swimming pool. All have stunning views to sea. The pool's infinity edge faces directly south through the coconut trees and over the surf to the horizon. The main covered veranda is the centre of the house with a dining area by the Koi fish pond and large sofas for relaxing at the south end, overlooking the terrace, the pool and the ocean beyond.
The bedrooms are cool and airy, with polished concrete floors and contemporary furniture, hand-built from local teak and mango. Thick 12" mattresses and fine linen lie on striking, under-lit polished concrete beds topped with huge mosquito nets. Each room has a selection of thick white towels, coloured beach towels and lots of flowers.
The two Master bedrooms are set on the north side of the courtyard, each with large adjoining bathrooms partially open to the sky. While both of these rooms face the courtyard, they also look onto separate small gardens of their own. The Courtyard bedroom lies on the west side of the courtyard and has wonderful elevated views across its own small private garden and lawn to the sea. Behind the bedroom is a simple, stylish bathroom.
The Sea bedroom lies much closer to the sea and provides more privacy. A similar size to the Courtyard bedroom, it is bright and airy, with the whole of the south end of the room opening onto its own private terrace, just 30 metres from the sea and the sound of the surf.
Beyond the flower and vegetable gardens lies the main lawn and a coconut grove which slopes down to 100 metres of dramatic rocky shoreline. We have seen blue whales passing close to the bottom of the garden. There are also monkeys, tortoises, many types of birds, including sea eagles and most evenings the local peacocks arrive to roost in the coconut trees.
Saffron House, 1 kms from the town of Dikwella, is about 15 kms from Dondra at the southern tip of Sri Lanka. Once around the southern tip from the Galle coast, the main road is mostly set well back from a complex coastline, with small sandy bays, jagged rocky seafront and quiet, bird-filled lagoons. The historic town of Galle with its spectacular Dutch fort will be about 45 minutes away when the final section of the Southern Highway opens in March 2014. The Dondra to Tangalle south-east stretch of coast is well known for its beauty and is blessed with many kilometres of stunning, empty beaches and not far inland, serene paddy fields, cinnamon estates and wooded hills bursting with wildlife.
Dikwella is an excellent place to break a tour of the south/central part of Sri Lanka, particularly if you want to head north into the mountains via Ella Gap or plan to go east to Yala National Park or Arugam Bay's surf a few hours further on.
For a longer stay, this part of Sri Lanka has plenty to keep you occupied. For beaches, the closest is 250 metres down a quiet lane to the east. Hiriketiya bay is a stunning tiny horseshoe which offers safe swimming year round and is usually deserted. 5 minutes walk to the west brings you to Dikwella beach, a safe, sweeping 2 km stretch, with good boogie boarding waves. There are many other deserted beaches within easy reach.
There's a market in Dikwella on Saturdays and one in Tangalle on Sundays, or for something less stressful, we can organise massage or yoga. The Dikwella Beach Resort, the other end of the beach, has windsurfing and diving and we have boogie boards available. A new hotel in Dikwella, Under The Mango Tree, has a lovely Ayurvedic Spa and the Amanwella Hotel, just a few kilometres away, is spectacular for sunset drinks.
It's 40 minutes to Mirissa for great surfing, whale watching or deep sea fishing. Or visit the excellent rock temple at Mulkirigala (1 hour) or the largest seated Buddha in Sri Lanka a few kilometers away in Dikwella. About 20 kms to the east is Rekawa, a protected beach where you can watch turtles lay their eggs. Ude Walawe National Park is just over one hour away and has an elephant orphanage. There are large herds of elephants in the park and also monkeys, birds and buffaloes. Although Yala National Park is about three hours away, an early start can make a day trip to see the leopards, perhaps combined with a visit to the Kataragama temple complex. Alternatively you can simply relax by the pool.