Owl and the Pussycat Hotel, Sri Lanka

As you might have guessed (!) this charming little hotel is inspired by the 1871 Edward Lear poem, ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’. The concept was thought up by Indian-born Reita Gadkhari and Sri-Lankan co-owner Shane Thantirimudalige, who wanted to incorporate all the magic of the story into their fun and quirky hotel. In 2017, just a year after opening, Owl and the Pussycat Hotel was awarded ‘Most Instagrammable Hotel’ at the Small Luxury Hotel Awards, thanks to the playful attention to detail in the rooms and common spaces.

Owl and Pussycat

Hidden down an unlikely path off the main road in Thalpe, this boutique hotel is right on the beach and nearby to the popular destinations of Unawatuna and Galle. There are three buildings (blue, yellow and pink) housing 17 unique rooms. The spaces are all designed with colourful mismatched furniture, unusual artwork and fun owl and cat details. The owners have been influenced by world design with Moroccan-style colourful walls, Greek Islands fabrics and Indian furniture.

Owl and PussycatOwl and Pussycat

There are a few different room categories; we were very at home in our Suite Dreams room – number 8 on the second floor – named The Piggy-Wig. With a vibrant pink bedroom (with luxurious four-poster bed) and a beach-inspired living room with kitchenette, our room also had a small balcony that overlooked the sea and featured an impressive hanging chair, perfect for afternoon reading and relaxing. The bathroom was small and functional with a walk-in shower and basic toiletries.

Owl and PussycatOwl and Pussycat

The sheltered outdoor pool, bar and Runcible Spoon restaurant are all sociable areas to spend time. Shaded by giant palm trees and decorated with elegant tiling, they are simple but pretty places to sit. If you are in need of some pampering there is an outdoor treatment platform for a massage by the beach, accompanied by the sound of the surrounding waves.

Owl and the PussycatOwl and the Pussycat

We enjoyed a delicious regional dinner at the Runcible Spoon, and if you are intrigued about the finer details of this cuisine, the hotel can organise a cooking demonstration with the kitchen team so you can learn to make the dishes at home. We had a short class with the Sous Chef and learnt to cook rice with a fragrant and delicious assortment of vegetarian curries. Breakfast was also a highlight of our stay, a beautiful array of tropical fruits and Sri Lankan specialities, all enjoyed in the comfort of our room.

Owl and Pussycat

If you are looking for an eclectic and fun place to stay Owl and the Pussycat Hotel, on the edge of the Ocean, will provide a colourful home for your Sri Lanka holiday.

More information and book a stay at the Owl and the Pussycat hotel here.

Chena Huts, Yala, Sri Lanka

Chena Huts has a reputation throughout Sri Lanka as being one of the best hotels in the country. Found in the heart of the Yala jungle region (the nearest town is 25km away), this boutique property hosts guests in ultra-luxurious huts. There are just 14 in total, ensuring the service is totally personalised and bespoke. Needless to say, we felt special from the moment we arrived on site.

Chena Huts

The iPad check-in is swift and is accompanied by a refreshing citrus drink and a flag ceremony (where each guest is invited to put a flag from their country on the Welcome entrance board – a fun touch). Within minutes we were enjoying the air-conditioned haven that was our hut… spacious and lavish, decorated with dark wood expensive furniture, soft refined furnishings and with an alluring cinnamon room scent. Outside, a private plunge pool and sunbeds provided a quiet place to relax.

Chena HutsChena Huts

The intelligently designed open plan room concealed a modern and indulgent bathroom, dual sinks, freestanding bath, separate shower and toilet rooms. Chena Huts provide ample amenities and have their own branded toiletries for guests to use.

Chena Huts

During our short stay we managed to squeeze in two safari trips (one the afternoon we arrived, and another the next morning), with knowledgable and enthusiastic ranger Sudheera Mendis. After exploring the tea plantations and paddy fields of central Sri Lanka, it was exciting to experience a completely different side of Sri Lanka’s landscape.

Chena Huts

Yala National Park is just 15 minutes from the hotel and is known best for its population of Sri Lankan leopards, but if you are lucky you may also see an elusive Sloth Bear. Yala also have their own version of the Big Five, which includes these two animals along with elephants, samba deer and saltwater crocodiles. With Sudheera’s expert guidance, we saw a wide range of amazing animals and beautiful birds including four of the Yala Big Five (the rare Sloth Bear sadly didn’t make an appearance!).

Chena Huts

Each night, after returning from their safari, guests enjoy dinner at the Basses Restaurant, which is attached to the reception and hosts all meals. There is also a bar for complimentary pre and post dinner drinks. Following our afternoon safari, we enjoyed well-made G&Ts and chatted to other guests before settling down to eat. The dinner menu offered a select choice of dishes, with both Sri Lankan and international cuisines represented.

Chena Huts

The next morning we enjoyed our second safari (which included a special encounter with a family of elephants and a thrilling leopard sighting) before an appetising breakfast. We feasted on the freshest tropical fruit, pastries, omelettes and sampled Chena Huts’ take on French toast with caramelised apple and local honey. I was also thankful for a hot cup of coffee after the early start!

Chena Huts

From the moment you arrive until when you depart, Chena Huts aim to make you feel at ease and looked after… included in the room rate are all food and drinks (including alcohol), daily laundry service and safari drives. It is a beautiful hotel with immaculate service and my stay here was one of the highlights of my week in Sri Lanka.

More information and book a stay at Chena Huts here.

Jetwing Kaduruketha, Sri Lanka

Jetwing Kaduruketha opened in 2015, an eco-friendly hotel, 30 minutes from Ella. The hotel is discreet but luxurious, away from the backpacker hub in the centre of town. Surrounded by mountains and lush paddy fields, the property is hidden and the 25 cabins (rooms) are disguised among the greenery. Bikes rest by the entrance of each room for guests to travel around the grounds.

Jetwing Kaduruketha

We were in cabin 24 with amazing views of the paddy fields and mountains in the distance. Simplicity reigns in the Kaduruketha rooms – a large bed takes centre stage with a small writing desk in the window. The decor is accented with deep red throughout the room. Several cupboards house the safe, lightweight dressing gowns, and tea and coffee facilities to use as you please. A separate indoor bathroom has a powerful shower, sink and toiletries in reusable glass bottles (plastic is not used anywhere in the property).

Jetwing Kaduruketha

The hotel tries to bring as much nature into the room as possible. There are no glass windows, instead they have mesh mosquito nets to keep out unwanted bugs while letting in the sounds of the neighbouring animals.

To keep electricity use down, there is no air conditioning in the rooms – the mesh windows and a ceiling fan keep the rooms cool.

Jetwing Kaduruketha

In the main building you will find a scenic infinity swimming pool, an al fresco restaurant, and the bar. A small library has an amazing collection of National Geographic magazines to keep you entertained during the spectacular tropical storms. The small spa specialises in Ayurvedic treatments with several modest private rooms for relaxing and revitalising treatments.

Jetwing Kaduruketha

When guests are not out exploring the countryside, they can enjoy activities in the hotel’s large grounds. The hotel hosts morning and night-time tours (charged at extra cost) so guests can get to know the animals that are local to the area. Bird watching takes place with a guide at 6.30am each morning and evening wildlife walks are given at 10pm. Some of the animals you might be lucky enough to see include fishing cats, hornbills and flying foxes – they also have a butterfly garden that you can visit in your own time.

Jetwing Kaduruketha

In the evening, we enjoyed a romantic private dinner experience by the pool. To start, we sampled complimentary Sri Lankan snacks including spiced savoury doughnuts and pakoras. For the main course I chose the Sultana cashew pulao rice, served with bhindi masala, salt and pepper vegetables and mint & mango chutney. The rice had a good balance of sweetness from the sultanas and crunch from the roasted cashew nuts and the assortment of sides were fragrant and delicious. My guest chose the Sri Lankan putti with potato white curry coconut curry leaf sambol, which was also tasty but he found the putti quite a dense carbohydrate. For dessert, we went for a light and refreshing milk and white chocolate mousse.

Jetwing Kaduruketha

The next morning, we started the day with a decadent breakfast on the terrace of our room. We were overwhelmed by the array of Sri Lankan dishes (sambal, potato curry, putti) and European classics (Eggs Florentine) they brought to the room. Beautiful to look at but also very flavoursome and tasty.

Before rushing off to our next destination, we had just enough time for a quick dip in the hotel’s infinity pool and a few minutes of much-needed sun worshipping.

More information and book a stay at Jetwing Kaduruketha here.