Watching peacocks parade across the open grasslands in front of our terrace was a hands-down highlight. A gorgeous place to relax with a cup of tea after climbing Pidurangala!– Saskia, visited in April 2019
Priding itself on excellent service and a small, boutique feel in vast natural surroundings, Kumbukgaha is a memorable retreat, tucked far from the strip of guesthouses lining the road to Sigiriya Rock.
Guests choosing to stay in the hotel’s enormous rooms are opting to immerse themselves in rural bliss, accompanied only by fluttering birds, curious geckos and – if you’re really lucky – a glimpse of a herd of elephants wandering through the nearby paddy fields, tracing the ancestral migratory routes that they have followed for centuries.
For tranquil, luxurious living, characterised by traditional Sri Lankan architecture, Asian antiques and a warm, welcoming team, this is a brilliant base from which to explore the best of the Cultural Triangle.
With seven spacious bedrooms in stunning, secluded surroundings, Kumbukgaha encourages visitors to embrace a rural eco-retreat vibe, without compromising on comfort or charm.
Large, luxurious rooms come in three categories. Two-storey Bungalows boast gorgeous garden views and can accommodate up to three guests, whilst large ground-floor Private Villas overlook the nearby paddy fields and open onto wonderful walled outdoor bathrooms. An extra bed can also be added for a third guest.
The largest of the offerings, Family Villas sleep four guests – with space for extra beds or cots – and consist of two Private Villas connected through a spacious sitting area.
Regardless of category, rooms are generously proportioned and beautifully appointed, with antique wooden furniture and characterful decor. Pieces come from all across Asia – from iconic Sri Lankan batiks to Chinese wedding chests and Balinese statues. The resulting atmosphere is one of peaceful relaxation and a real sense of space. Perch on the rattan armchairs of your private terrace, chill out in the indoor reading nook and spend a wonderfully restful night in your huge cosy bed.
One of the real highlights of our stay was the open-air bathroom, tucked away behind our Private Villa. With yellow-painted walls and leafy trees where little birds flitted in the late afternoon sun, we soaked up the striking outdoor rain shower – perfect for catching glimpses of the stars on clear nights.
Modern in-room amenities include a fridge, kettle and a safe, as well as Bluetooth speakers – and air-conditioning to take the sweaty edge off toasty evenings.
Drinking & dining
Amble to the beautiful open-sided pavilion – based on traditional Sri Lankan architecture – for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as peacocks parade past in the paddy fields beyond.
Tuck into a hearty breakfast – the Sri Lankan options come highly recommended – before heading out to explore, or sink into cosy cushioned bliss with a cup of tea at one of the antique tables on the edges of the pavilion. Round off quiet evenings with a cold beer and a delectable rice and curry feast by candlelight.
We found staff wonderfully friendly and the service here excellent: a serious highlight for a spot which feels very much off the beaten track.
Facilities & activities
An oasis of tranquility, Kumbukgaha boasts a small outdoor pool for paddling in the sunshine, as well as generous communal areas for resting and relaxing. Lounge pool-side with a good book, or nab a spot on one of the armchairs in the main pavilion for a late afternoon game of cards, after you’ve hit some of the area’s top sights.
The ancient rock fortress of Sigiriya is one of the island’s most famous attractions, whilst vastly underrated Pidurangala Rock, just opposite, also makes for a striking sunrise or sunset climb, with magnificent views across the valley. Do bring a torch if descending after dark – the route is poorly lit and the night falls fast in Sri Lanka!
Also within easy reach of Kumbukgaha is Dambulla, known for its extensive cave temples, and two gorgeous national parks: Minneriya and Kaudulla.
Peer at beautiful birds, spot enormous crocodiles and marvel at families of elephants in both places – an incredible outing, especially if travelling with children. Do your research in choosing a reputable guide and ask the hotel for advice as to which park to visit depending on the time of year.
The ancient cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa are both just over an hour away – an excellent day trip for the historically minded, or the ideal next stop on your Sri Lankan adventure.
• Gorgeous outdoor bathrooms for starlit rain showers
• Well-appointed rooms with modern amenities
• A real sense of space and tranquility: the hotel is surrounded by nature, and spaces are generous and airy
• We’ve never seen so many peacocks in one afternoon!
• This is a very quiet spot: bring books for lounging by the pool and cards for some healthy after-dinner competition
• The hotel’s remote nature means a car or trishaw is necessary for exploring the local area, something which the hotel can easily arrange
• Though the food is very good, the restaurant menu may be a bit limited for those choosing to stay more than a few nights
When to visit
Kumbukgaha is open year-round, but the highest rainfall is expected between October and December, which makes climbing Sigiriya and Pidurangala Rock less appealing. Visit between May and August to catch the world-famous elephant gathering at Minneriya National Park (2o minutes away), when huge numbers of elephants congregate during the dry season.
Location & information
The journey from Bandaranaike International Airport to Kumbukgaha Villa takes just less than four hours by car, and Sigiriya is a great place to stop on the way to the beaches of the East Coast or before heading north to explore Jaffna.
For more information about getting around in Sri Lanka, check out our travel tips.