So quiet you can only hear staff sweeping up leaves in the courtyard, The Sun House feels a world away from the bustle of Galle, a town on Sri Lanka’s south west coast.
Set on a hill just a short walk from Galle Fort, you can see why a Scottish cinnamon merchant built The Sun House here in the 1860s.
Since the bungalow’s eight rooms opened to the public in 1992, its peaceful ambiance, original colonial features and artistic décor have attracted artists, authors and celebrities.
The Michelin star chef Skye Gyngell – formerly of Petersham Nurseries in London – names The Sun House as one of her favourite restaurants in the world while the British chef Rick Stein stayed for a week while learning to cook pumpkin and pineapple curry.
Highlights from its curry menu include lotus root curry and banana blossom curry, perhaps accompanied by jasmine rice. But even if you just stay for breakfast you won’t miss out – opt for the Sri Lankan breakfast and you can feast on coconut sambol made with grated coconut, onion and spicy tomatoes; egg curry, and string hoppers, or thin white rice flour noodles. If you have a sweet tooth, try the curd, sweetened with syrup collected from local trees.
Many of the restaurant’s ingredients come from the villa’s kitchen garden, which grows avocado, lemongrass, curry leaves and chilli among other vegetables.
Stein stayed in the Cinnamon Suite, which features an outdoor bath tub. It’s the largest of the eight rooms. I stayed in the Parrot Fish room, so-called because its twin four-poster beds feature turquoise parrot fish cushions.
Like its sister property The Dutch House just opposite, The Sun House has tall ceilings, ceiling fans and antique furniture in the rooms and shared lounge, which has a cool tiled floor, rattan armchairs and bookshelves.
But the highlight is no doubt the pool, which is bordered by frangipani trees. Go for a dip at night and you’ll have it to yourself. My guest and I were marvelling at the stars and full moon above us when a handful of fireflies fluttered around us – making us laugh out loud at the romance of it all.
Chancing upon The Sun House feels serendipitous, but maybe it’s meant to be; after all, Serendip is the old name for Sri Lanka.
The Sun House, 18 Upper Dickson Road, Galle, Sri Lanka
Tel: +94 91 438 0275
The Sun House is located on Sri Lanka’s south coast and close to the UN World Heritage site of Galle Fort, Buddhist temples, wildlife reserves and superb beaches. It’s just a five-minute tuk tuk ride or 10-minute walk from Galle Fort and Galle bus and train stations.
Type of Hotel: Boutique Villa
Number of Rooms: 8 rooms and suites
Price Band: Medium to High
Insider Tip: Ants can be an issue, so don’t leave food in your room.
Reviewer’s Rating: 9/10
Photographs courtesy of The Sun House