Illuketia is a wonderfully atmospheric place: an ancient planter's bungalow hidden in rural beauty in easy reach of the coast. Illuketia is a secluded haven of colourful flowerbeds, undulating lawns, mazy paths and tranquil waterways, a botanical wonderland that attracts over 150 species of birds. This is where its true attraction lies. The main plantation bungalow sits on at the top of sloping gardens and courtywards and verandahs, comfy sofas, wicker chairs and ornate wall hangings. This elegant villa houses four suites. A stroll down the gardens is the Pond House, an escapist spot with exclusive views of a large lily-pond loved by wildlife. Illuketia can be rented exclusively or by the suite.
Illuketia is the sister property of Apa Villa set on the picturesque beaches of Thalpe just five kilometres away. The two properties are owned by Hans Hofer, founder of the Apa Guides - later to become famous as the Insight Travel Guides.
The Main House located at the front of the property, has four suites and the Pond House, located downhill houses two additional suites. Names of flowers set the mood for each of the suites. Rooms are adequate, not exceptional; the attractions of the property lie elsewhere.
Main House: The four suites in the Main House – Hibiscus, Lotus, Citronella and Water Lily are all accessed through the central courtyard, and have a terrace or sitting area.
Hibiscus Suite: This spacious suite opens out to a large covered balcony overlooking paddy fields. With comfortable built-in seaters, the balcony is a perfect place to dine, read or relax. It has a king-size bed raised on a cement platform with mosquito netting. The ensuite bathroom has twin sinks and shower.
Lotus Suite: A spacious suite with a view to the tea plantation. King size bed, a comfortable sofa, and wicker recliners.
Citronella Suite: A smaller suite, compensated by a private garden terrace. Double bed and en-suite bathroom with shower and twin vanity basins.
Water lily suite: This single suite with views to the garden and opening out to the central pond and courtyard has a charming Dutch period antique four-poster bed, a cabinet and mirror stand. The en-suite bathroom has a shower.
Pond House: Located in the garden, the Pond House consists of two suites – Ginger and Jasmine – and a living and dining verandah overlooking a magnificent lily pond. The Pond House is serviced by a separate butler and can be rented in its entirety or as individual rooms. The Ginger Suite is spacious and has a king-size bed on a raised platform. The bathroom has outdoor twin bathtubs and showers. The smaller Jasmine Suite has two queen-size beds. The bathroom has a walled-in garden with shower.
Entrance to Illuketia is through a soothing central courtyard with a pond. Beyond is the grand living room with a two-tier roof highlighted with Balinese carvings and surrounded with doors that open out to a spacious verandah and gardens beyond. Bamboo furniture, lacquered Chinese cabinets, antique porcelains, chandeliers and paintings from Indonesia adorn this grand room. The upstairs consists of a lounging area with TV and DVD player; a library with a billiard table and extensive collection of books and magazines in English, French and German; and an office with an antique writing desk. A 25-metre infinity swimming pool, with a shallow children’s areas, sits amidst the greenery. Meals use produce from Illuketia’s own organic garden and fresh seafood. Mainly Sri Lankan and eastern dishes are offered and are served on the verandah of the main house and tea is served in a private corner of your choice. In-house massages and yoga lessons are organized on request.
Why We Like It
A slightly faded grandeur will delight those who prefer authenticity above sophistication.
This 200-year-old plantation bungalow is set on a 10-acre private estate in the village of Akuressa which is about 10 minutes inland from the Galle Coast beach town of Unawatuna. Galle’s 17C Dutch Fort is about 20 minutes away. The journey from Colombo’s international airport will take about 2.5 hours.