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“An Essential, Magical Stop on Your Bawa Pilgrimage” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Lunuganga

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Lunuganga
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4.0 of 5 Hotel   |   Dedduwa Lake, Bentota, Sri Lanka   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #7 of 27 Hotels in Bentota
Cape Town Central, South Africa
Senior Contributor
24 reviews 24 reviews
24 hotel reviews
Reviews in 22 cities Reviews in 22 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
“An Essential, Magical Stop on Your Bawa Pilgrimage”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 11, 2013

Visiting this most beautiful, charming and understated 'home' was a dream come true for me. It was such a privilege to be able to explore the magnificent gardens at leisure and to enjoy the lovely interiors of the house. Our dinner and breakfast were wonderful and the staff were so extremely hospitable. Even if you are not familiar with Bawa's work, I would still recommend this tranquil and beautiful spot. One note: Lunuganga is not signposted and locals had not heard of it, so be sure to have clear directions. Moreover, this is not a hotel with modcons and bling; it has been maintained as Bawa wanted it; a little 'cloakroom' at the entrance has a wooden door and bare cement surrounds for example. The staff can also arrange tours of Bevis Bawa's 'Brief' garden.

  • Stayed February 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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37 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (5)
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English first
London.England
Top Contributor
51 reviews 51 reviews
36 hotel reviews
Reviews in 32 cities Reviews in 32 cities
41 helpful votes 41 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 24, 2012

We visited the Bawa Estate in 2011 for a garden tour and decided we would try staying in one of the rooms on our next holiday. We were not disappointed. As well as the obvious benefits of having the freedom to explore the enormous landscaped gardens alongside a beautiful lagoon, one can stay in a small number of individual rooms created by the architect. Most of these were not designed to be bedrooms but have been adapted. We had the gallery room which is a two - level suite of large size. The bathroom is obviously a recent addition or update and works very well. The kindness and attentiveness of the managers, Damien, Asha and Michael cannot be over-emphasised. Indeed all of the staff were truly considerate and excellent. Meals are tailored to your individual requirements and were all of high quality; we particularly liked the Sri Lankan cooking which was very varied and tasy. We also had a boat ride on the lake which was very attractive and gives new perspectives on the landscape. Birdlife here is also very good and we watched the unusual spectacle of the huge sea eagle hunting and catching flying foxes over the lake every evening from the terrace. In total this is a unique experience in Sri Lanka at the home of Bawa's country retreat. There is a special atmosphere arising from the location, the tranquility and the warm hospitality provided.

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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Copenhagen, Denmark
Senior Contributor
32 reviews 32 reviews
16 hotel reviews
Reviews in 19 cities Reviews in 19 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 10, 2012

Renowned Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa's home and garden. In his home are six places of accomodation, which we didn't have a chance to try, but we saw them all. I'd rent any one of them in a heartbeat, even if they are w/o some modern amenities. The house and not least the incredible garden are marvels of beauty and tranquility, dominated by long vistas and monocromatic colour.
The place is practically impossible to find as there are absolutely no signs directing you there. However, every villager in the area knows Lunuganga and Mr. Bawa and will direct you there. Even when you get to the locked gate, it looks closed and dilapidated. But don't let any of that fool you - everything about this place is magic, including the food.

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  • Stayed August 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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London, United Kingdom
Senior Contributor
23 reviews 23 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 16, 2012

This in many ways was the highlight of an extraordinary trip around Sri Lanka.

The house and out-buildings are beautifully furnished, and the gardens are extraordinary. Staff were very charming and eager to help - the food was of the highest quality (and authentically Sri Lankan, so my companion assured me). Utterly peaceful, and very remote.

We stayed in the two-bedroom Cinnamon Hill House - which is a 5 minute walk from the main house. The bathrooms are open air: and showering under a tree is a lovely experience.

A word of warning to the squeamish: the location means that you'll share your table and accommodation with insects and the odd creepy-crawly. A good local citron-based repellent should take care of the mosquitoes, and the larger insects are harmless enough. Don't let this put you off!

  • Stayed February 2012, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
LONDON
Top Contributor
127 reviews 127 reviews
97 hotel reviews
Reviews in 91 cities Reviews in 91 cities
208 helpful votes 208 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 6, 2012

LUNUGANGA

When travelling perhaps the greatest luxury of all is to be invited into somebody‚s house. The joy of staying at Lunuganga is that it is like staying in someone‚s home, and the somebody, moreover, an artist of great international distinction. Though Geoffrey Bawa died in 2003, eight years after his death his spirit infuses all the buildings and every landscape. He created an enclosed world of assured style and equilibrium, entirely free from any sense of alienation and yet full of surprises and confidently modern.

The architecture at Lunuganga is not so much that of the drawing board as that of visual habitation. Countless decisions created the world of Lunuganga, decisions moreover that were informed by half a lifetime of world travel. Hours of the day, seasons of the year and decades of creative refinement have shaped the environment to make a place that delights the eye and calms the spirit.

Many of the staff were employed here during his lifetime and while it is fanciful to imagine that he could appear in the doorway at any moment, such a conjecture is in itself, a manifestation of the success of the trust in sustaining the atmosphere of his home.

The visitors‚ books record the impact that Lunuganga has had on hundreds of visitors who have taken the trouble to try to set down how deeply their visit has affected them. There can be very few places in the world where travelers have found themselves so moved and inspired in such an intimate way.

If you could spend a week as house-guests of the Frank Lloyd Wrights, or a holiday above Nice at Cimiez, staying in Matisse‚s house and studio, or a weekend at Giverny chez the Monets, you would have something of the flavour of what is on offer at Lunuganga ˆ at home with a great modern master.

Though not officially a World Heritage Site, Lunuganga is indisputably part of the world‚s heritage. It is far from a fossilized institution. The forward-looking staff and trustees have ambitious plans for future developments that will ensure the site remains relevant to current concerns and responsive to the challenges of future development.

We found it to be an unforgettable place to stay (and the reviews we have lodged on Trip Advisor are for some great hotels). But it isn‚t for everybody. What it offers is unique. It is a haven of peaceful beauty. There are no television sets, spas, pools, bars, or communal dining. For those wanting to be indulged and entertained there are countless places in Sri Lanka and all over the world where this is on offer. Lunuganga is a secure refuge for anyone wanting to enjoy one of the world‚s great gardens and unique houses. The one disadvantage we considered to be the lack of wifi facility. There are people who may consider that a plus.

The six cottages and houses are all different and each of them has something special. Cinnamon Hill House is the most secluded. The guest quarters in the main house, which is where we stayed, are closest to the day-to-day life of Lunuganga but is completely tranquil. All the staff ferociously guard the privacy of guests. People who come for a tour of the gardens are not permitted in or near the house.

We had a magical early morning boat ride when we were paddled around the lake looking at bird-life. We were visited by a salt-water crocodile who seemed to come to converse with the sculpture of a leopard that guards the watergate. An iguana caused a great stir when it panicked and fled through the house. But these were rare moments of action in a week of utter peace.

We made use of a most helpful tuk-tuk driver, Kapila, recommended by the staff. He lives nearby and is honest and reliable. You could, if you wished, use him to go out to eat in Bentota, to visit the beach or make use of hotel swimming pools. He regularly took us to the Internet café and sightseeing to local temples.

Meals at Lunuganga are delicious. It is a variant of village cooking with fresh menus every day. The breakfasts are superb.

As we were interested in the house and garden the staff spent a great deal of time showing us round, lending us books and other material and talking to us. After we returned from visiting a cinnamon cutter‚s workshop our hostess loaned us a book of poems by Michael Ondaatje with a marvelous poem on the subject in it. No one was ever intrusive but the staff had an outstanding sensitivity to out wishes and needs.

Paradise.

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  • Stayed January 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Melbourne, Australia
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 21, 2012

this place is awesome. this scenic place is ideal for nature lovers

  • Stayed April 2011, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London
Senior Contributor
25 reviews 25 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
102 helpful votes 102 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 15, 2012

We stayed for two nights in the Gate House and enjoyed every moment of it. The place feels as though it has been landscaped by Capability Brown himself. With each step a new vista seems to open up giving you a glimpse of another hidden view of the estate.

The Gate House is a set away from the main house but just as comfortable and inspiring. Our room was made up every morning and beds also folded back in the evening.

I was particularly tickled by the response I got when asking for the menu: 'when you would like to eat' and 'what you would like to eat...'. So we had a beautiful seafood treat that evening, local fresh catch of the day. Just plain magic. After being there for a few hours you begin to feel how the world seem to slowly start to fade back and you fall into the spell of this place. It's a place to sit in the garden with a good book and be spirited away to outer tranquility.

The lake at the foot of the estate looks incredibly inviting but is apparently not suitable for swimming although we did see people washing and swimming at the side of it. We took a tuktuk down to one of the hotels at Bentota — also designed by Geoffrey Bawa — and enjoyed a swim in the ocean, lunch, and a spot of complimentary wifi as well (withdrawal symptoms were beginning to set in). Just ask one of the ever helpful house sprites.

Our driver did initially have a little trouble finding the place but a few calls to his friends and relatives soon resolved this. We drove up from Galle which was about 2.5 to 3 hours. Next time we would try and take a water taxi and head straight to Bentota.

It's the ideal hideaway to escape from everything for a few days. Thank you again to Asha, Michael and Damian for letting us feel so at home.

  • Stayed February 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Lunuganga

Address: Dedduwa Lake, Bentota, Sri Lanka
Location: Sri Lanka > Southern Province > Bentota
Hotel Style:
#2 Luxury Hotel in Bentota
#8 Romantic Hotel in Bentota
Hotel Class:4 star — Lunuganga 4*
Number of rooms: 6
Also Known As:
Lunuganga Hotel Bentota

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