There’s something quite magical about Sri Lanka, where tropical island splendour meets cities that blend old and new. Spend a couple of days exploring capital Colombo, a bustling metropolis with diverse cultural influences from British to Arabic, before heading south along the coast where idyllic boutique boltholes rest beside soft sand beaches. Sri Lanka is one of travel experts Mr & Mrs Smith’s favourite destinations, so they have prepared an itinerary of three family-friendly spots in this exotic locale.
Casa Colombo, Colombo
Style Historical hipster
Setting Southern ’burb of Bambalapitiya
The jazzed-up, 200-year-old Casa Colombo boutique hotel, in the city’s southern Bambalapitiya quarter, overloads the senses: hip, hedonistic and highly styled, the design-driven interiors were created by owner Lalin Jinasena, a protégé of legendary local architect Geoffrey Bawa. Here, personal domos (butler/concierges) tend to your every whim, and a spa and bubblegum-pink pool entice you to relax and unwind.
Sleeping Let staff know on booking if you need a cot added to your room; unfortunately, though, extra beds can’t be added for older children. Try to bag the Schofield Road and Tikal Road suites if your kids are a bit older. These rooms are opposite one another on the first floor, so you can keep a close enough eye on them to discourage serious shenanigans.
Activities Older children will love splashing in the shaded pool. There is a shallow end, but the deep end is very deep, so little ones will need to be watched closely. Although there is no organised children’s activity programme at the hotel, there is plenty to do in Colombo. Go paddle-boating on Beira Lake, pose with the resident tusker elephant at Gangaramaya Temple, play on the swings and slides at Viharamahadevi Park or fly a kite on shoreside Galle Face Green. If you run out of ideas, just ask the domo.
Feasting There are a number of dining options at Casa Colombo and although none of them have specific children’s menus the chefs are always willing to grant culinary wishes. The main restaurant HVN was once the mansion’s grand hall and serves a range of western and Sri Lankan dishes. T Republic is an alfresco option, offering iced teas and light bites throughout the day.
Sassy savings Book through Smith and you’ll receive a bottle of wine on your arrival at Casa Colombo.
Style A shore thing
Setting Divine Dalawella Beach
Tucked into the postcard-worthy coastline on Sri Lanka’s southern sands, bijou beachside Ambalama hotel near Galle is all yours. Easy-breezy interiors by Australian architect Bruce Fell-Smith frame blissful sea views, a fab chef ensures you’re well fed and discreet staff members attend to your every need. Plus, you don’t have to worry about the family making too much noise – this is an exclusive-hire villa, so there’s no one else here to get all sensitive on you.
Sleeping There are four bedrooms in all, each with a divine four-poster bed and private terraces looking into the garden. The two larger bedrooms both have deep window sills plumped with a soft mattress that can be converted into a unique place to sleep for little ones. Older kids and teens will want to nab the twin room. Baby cots can be added to any of the rooms – simply word up the booking team so that it’s organised when you arrive.
Activities We anticipate the kids will be spending all their time outside. The pool – which has a shallow ledge running along one edge – and garden will delight your brood, as will the tranquil swimming beach just a five-minute walk from the hotel. Here, an offshore coral reef transforms the shallows into a glorious turquoise lagoon with turtles often popping their heads above water to catch a breath. In Habaraduwa, a few minutes’ drive south-east of the hotel, there’s a turtle hatchery (www.seaturtlefarm.org) where kids can get even closer to these gentle creatures, freeing turtle tots into the sea.
Feasting Chef Roshan is on hand at all times to make sure no one goes hungry. His repertoire is wide – curries, barbecues, juicy steaks, even breakfast pastries – and each day he’ll find out if anyone has specific preferences. Of course, that means you can order whatever you want the kids to eat. Leave the choice up to them if you dare. Ambalama has a full, modern kitchen if you fancy whipping up a feast, and there are some lovely local restaurants along the beach.
Sassy savings Book your break through Smith and you’ll receive a bottle of wine when you arrive at Ambalama.
The Last House, Tangalle
Style Breezy Bawa beachpad
Setting Serene Seenimodera
Beachside bolthole The Last House hotel in Tangalle, on Sri Lanka’s south coast, is incredibly seductive. Designed by respected Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa, this luxury seaside escape was his ultimate commission, and is a true representation of his work, where airy, antique-filled interiors spill into alfresco spaces as if no boundaries exist at all.
Sleeping There is no problem adding an extra bed or a cot to any of the six rooms, but if there are a few of you – maybe you’re bringing extended family – book the first floor of the Main House for your exclusive use. There’s a double bedroom and two twin rooms, plus glorious balconies that overlook the beach.
Activities Beyond the hotel’s lawn is a two-kilometre stretch of sand with gently rolling surf, perfect for paddling or teaching the kids to body board. There are surfboards available, too, as well as cricket bats, badminton rackets and balls they can take down to the beach. Ask staff to escort you on a fishing expedition on the hotel’s boat. To the east, take a peek at the erratic eruptions of the Hoomaniya Blowhole. By night, visit the Turtle Conservation Project to observe marine turtles laying and hatching eggs on the sand under the cover of darkness.
Feasting The whole family will love the outdoor tables on the veranda overlooking the beach. Chef Ananda prepares Asian-fusion cuisine that’s reasonably famous in the local area, but he also caters to visiting littlies – there are sandwiches, pastas and grilled fish on the menu or you can ask if there’s something special you want made up. A small guest kitchen is available for heating milk and baby food.
Sassy savings Book through Smith to get a one-hour boat trip for free.
To book a child-friendly Smith stay visit www.mrandmrssmith.com or call the expert Travel Team on 800 905 326. What’s more, BlackSmith membership is now free for life, so reserve through Smith to receive life-enhancing extras and exclusive offers at more than 900 hotels and holiday houses around the world.