Lunuganga is the former country residence of the internationally-renowned Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa. Set in rolling, Renaissance-inspired tropical gardens just inland from the west coast resort of Bentota, it is on a peninsular edged by the picturesque Dedduwa Lake. Not as much a staple boutique hotel as a living piece of history, it offers guests a rare opportunity to step inside the private life of one of the world’s most celebrated architects, a man dubbed “the father of Asian architecture”. Once within the 25-acre estate, after a bumpy ride down winding lanes, it is not difficult to understand why in 1948 Bawa bought this former rubber estate to craft into his garden idyll. After decades of careful, exquisite, creative thought and design, Bawa’s legacy and perhaps most personal life’s work is today a wondrous and inspiring place to visit and savour. With astonishing views and beautiful interiors, with many original Bawa artwork and blueprints on the walls, a stay in one of Lunuganga’s nine fine suites is guaranteed to be a highlight of any holiday. Dining is at the edge of the tranquil Dedduwa Lake. The golden beaches of Bentota are just three kilometres away. The whole property can be rented in its entirety or on an individual room basis.
Nine individually furnished rooms and suites sit within independent, uniquely-styled buildings spaced throughout the Lunuganga garden. By staying at Lunuganga, you enjoy a secluded niche of the estate. Rooms purposefully frame views of the garden, the lake, the treetops or of distant Buddhist stupas, and some suites also have private sit-outs where you can relax to birdsong. All nine bedrooms are furnished and preserved in the way that Bawa envisaged. Families may be drawn to the three rooms of No. 5 at Lunuganga, the former residence of a renowned batik artist, Ena de Silva, and a dear friend of Bawa, which was painstakingly transplanted from Colombo and reconstructed brick by brick in a far-flung corner of Lunuganga. All rooms have a/c, overhead fans and ensuite bathrooms with h/w showers.
Master Suite (56 sq m): Previously closed off to guests, the Master Suite is the original room occupied by Geoffrey Bawa at Lunuganga Estate. Located in the Main House, Bawa’s former suite is furnished with a king-sized bed, modern-day amenities, and a spacious living area adorned with a rare collection of original artworks, and his personal library..
Gallery Studio Suite (60 sq m): Lunuganga's largest suite. Originally a cowshed used to house farm animals, was converted over 20 years ago into Geoffrey Bawa’s private art gallery/studio. A stairway leads to a dramatic downstairs sitting room and doors adorned with art lead to the bathroom. As well as being filled with Bawa’s collection of special pieces of furniture, sculptures and artefacts from around the world, the walls of the living room showcase architectural blueprints of his works, such as the Heritance Kandalama hotel (Cultural Triangle). There is a king-sized antique four-poster bed fitted with mosquito netting and ensuite bathroom with Victorian bathtub and h/w shower. An outdoor private courtyard is surrounded by ochre-coloured walls.
Glass House (30 sq m): This is a long narrow room, edged on either side by large glass windows which give it a conservatory feel. Set on the upper level of the main house, this is a magical room beaming with sunlight and wonderful views. The front door opens out to the beautiful gardens. Furnished with Dutch-period antiques including a queen-sized four-poster bed, planter’s chairs and a desk.
Gatehouse Suite (40 sq m): Once the gatehouse of the plantation bungalow, this intimate and cosy suite overlooks the northern part of Cinnamon Hill. This upper floor room has alcove windows looking out into the gardens, a living and sleeping area and an ensuite bathroom with h/w shower and twin vanities. Furnished with a double bed and decorated with a beautiful batik mural created by the famous artist Ena de Silva.
Cinnamon Hill Rooms (25 and 30 sq m): Two breeze-freshened bedrooms set about 250 metres away from the main house at the southern edge of the gardens, on the summit of Cinnamon Hill. The rooms offer considerable privacy and are ideal for a family or friends travelling together. Rooms have with king-sized beds, indoor and outdoor living areas, secluded open-air bathrooms, and separate pantry and staff room. Cinnamon Hill House comes with its own butler.
No 5 - Ena’s Bedroom (25 sq m): One of three spacious guestrooms in the former house of Ena de Silva, which sits in blissful isolation on the edge of the estate. Located on the first floor, the room features a platform bed, delicate louvered window shades and traditional planters’ chairs.
No 5 – Guest Suite (50 sq m): Located on the ground floor of the former house of Ena de Silva, a separate three-bedroom property located in a far-flung corner of Lunuganga garden, this tranquil room features terracotta floors, whitewashed built-in furnishings, a king-sized bed and a private courtyard.
No 5 – Master Suite (35 sq m): This first-floor room in a separate three-bedroom house is a light-bathed suite with hardwood floors, delicate louvered windows and colonial-era furnishings. Formerly Ena’s husband’s bedroom, this is one of three guestrooms by No. 5 at Lunuganga that appeals to families or groups.
The main house has living and dining areas filled with Bawa’s favourite pieces of art and antiques and panoramic views of the Dedduwa Lake. There are several outdoor areas scattered around the estate - overlooking the lake, jungles, ponds or paddy fields – ideal for hours of inspired work or just relaxing. Lunuganga chefs take pride in their cuisine and are ever willing to serve meals where ever you wish – under a tree, in your own room, or even a picnic lunch or high tea to be enjoyed on a boat on the lake. From contemporary gourmet cuisine with Asian and Mediterranean influences to delicious Sri Lankan rice and curries, all meals are made using fresh ingredients purchased daily from the local market. The finest Sri Lankan teas with freshly baked scones are served throughout the day. Lunuganga’s restaurant is open to non-resident guests with prior booking. Garden tours are also conducted for non-resident guests daily from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Although Lunuganga doesn’t have a swimming pool, the beautiful beaches of Bentota and Hikkaduwa are just a short drive away offering numerous water sports and safe swimming (December – April). Guests are also welcome to use the swimming pool and dine at the nearby Club Villa – another Geoffrey Bawa creation.
Why We Like It
A magical place now benefiting from Teardrop Group management and with imaginative gardens that give a real insight into the mind of Geoffrey Bawa
Lunuganga, a unique and intriguing country estate house, is a 15-minute drive inland from the beach resort of Bentota on the west coast of Sri Lanka. The journey from Colombo’s international airport will take approximately two hours.
Location: Bentota, West Coast
Style: Heritage Hotel
No. of Rooms: 6
Key Features: Spectacular design as you would expect from Geoffrey Bawa's country house and gardens