Beautiful, restful serenity with one of the most gorgeous infinity pools we’ve ever seen.
– Saskia, visited in September 2019
Nestled amidst the dramatic peaks of the south-eastern hill country, Living Heritage Koslanda celebrates traditional Sri Lankan design with laid-back luxury – perfect for epic relaxation and rejuvenation.
A nine-room oasis set in a remote area of unspoilt natural beauty, Koslanda champions sustainability, eco-conscious living and stellar local craftsmanship. Envisioned by Manik Sandrasagra and completed by his wife, Lucy, with the help of renowned architect Channa Daswatte, the hotel was a real labour of love.
Materials were brought in from across the island and ancient techniques resurrected to build heritage-style pavilions with cut-stone floors. Furnished with thoughtfully chosen antique pieces, luxurious rooms chime harmoniously with their timeless surroundings in 80 spellbinding acres of what locals call ‘God’s Forest’.
With nine rooms scattered throughout the property in three different styles, Koslanda’s bedrooms are out of this world – choose wisely for maximum bliss.
Nestled alongside the hotel restaurant, the enormous Villa Suites are wood-and-stone wonders. Built like traditional Sri Lankan houses, large courtyards keep spaces cool. Imposing antique cupboards reveal tasty tea and coffee, as well as stacks of board games fit for the whole family. Additional beds can also be set up for those travelling with small children.
Beautiful bedrooms and generous bathrooms lead onto hidden back courtyards. The far wall is clad in clinging ferns, an outdoor stone-floored rain shower stands to one side and a plunge pool awaits.
Designed along similar lines, romantic Pepper Cottage offers next-level privacy for honeymooners or those hoping to hide away.
Close to the stunning infinity pool, the recently built Forest Pavilions – timber and canvas-sided structures raised to overlook the treetops – make for a seriously special stay.
We spent three nights here and waking up to a view of the verdant hills from our cosy bed was an absolute highlight. With sheer cotton tucked in on all sides, king-sized beds feel like nests. Pull canvas seats out onto the deck to glimpse birds and monkeys as you sip your morning coffee and embrace a fabulous luxury safari feel. Wood-panelled bathrooms are ensuite, with rain showers open to the stars during the dry season and covered in woven palm roofs for the monsoon.
In keeping with the hideaway vibe, guests are not issued with keys but there are safes in each room for valuables – and to ward off curious monkeys. Mobile phones enable guests to ring reception from anywhere on the property, so lunch and tea are just a call away.
Outdoor rain showers
Drinking & dining
Stroll to the open-sided restaurant pavilion for fabulous fruit and an ever-changing array of cooked-to-order Sri Lankan breakfast options. Egg hoppers are served with crispy bacon and herb-and-spice infused omelettes are followed by toast with homemade jam. There is, of course tea and coffee aplenty – you are within sight of Lipton’s Seat, after all.
Cosy dinners begin with convivial drinks and nibbles with fellow guests, followed by flavoursome rice and curry (a Sri Lankan staple), a five-course special menu, or Western dishes. Unlike many hotels in Sri Lanka, Koslanda has a liquor licence, so you’ll find a selection of wine, beer and spirits to enjoy.
A mix of snacks and light Western options are available for lunch, which can be served wherever you desire: in the pretty, quirky café or beside the pool.
Relaxation is top of the list at Koslanda and there is a wonderfully soothing, slow-living feel throughout the property. Curl up under one of the traditional wooden pavilions – ambalamas – with a book, or admire the shifting mists in the valley below the hilltop infinity pool – an absolute showstopper.
Join the chef for a Sri Lankan cookery class, help the Living Heritage initiative by planting a tree or lace up your boots and explore God’s Forest. Hotel staff will happily direct you on a hike to the estate’s private waterfall for a refreshing dip in a natural pool, up to impressive Diyaluma Falls, or down to the village for a wander. Guided walks can also be arranged.
Things we love
• A real sense of serenity – structures chime with a lush natural environment
• The hotel’s commitment to sustainability & celebration of beautiful traditional design
• The awe-inspiring infinity pool
Things to note
• Leeches (which are ultimately harmless) appear after the rains. The hotel is well-prepared with leech socks for forest walks, but we’d avoid taking a stroll directly after a storm.
• Evenings here are quiet: we were thrilled to have a pack of cards for some hearty after-dinner competition and books for lazy poolside days.
• The menu is limited and rice and curry (which is delicious!) needs to be ordered in advance.
• Forest Pavilions are best suited to adventurous travellers: some creepy crawlies are inevitable at night.
When to visit
Koslanda is open year-round and the hill country stays cool in comparison to the tropical heat of the coast. The rainy season in the hill country usually falls between May and September – we would recommend visiting in the dry season to make the most of exploring the area on foot (ideally leech-free) and for showering under starry skies if you’re staying in a Forest Pavilion.
Location & information
The journey from Bandaranaike International Airport to Koslanda takes 5-6 hours by car. For more information about getting to and from the airport, check out our travel tips.