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“Lovely in every way” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Apa Villa Illuketia

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Apa Villa Illuketia
Illuketia Watta | Wanchawala, Galle, Sri Lanka   |  
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Ranked #20 of 43 Hotels in Galle
singapore
Senior Contributor
30 reviews 30 reviews
21 hotel reviews
Reviews in 19 cities Reviews in 19 cities
31 helpful votes 31 helpful votes
“Lovely in every way”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 14, 2012

My husband and I spent a very relaxing and amazing 4 days at Apa villas Thalpe and Apa villas Illuketia. We had been planning this trip for quite some time, but something always came up and we had to postpone the trip twice. We finally made it to the Apa villas properties and were really glad that we did. The pickup from Colombo was efficient and with the new highway, its a breeze getting to Apa villas. We stayed at villa no. 4 (?) - and it was amazing to wake up every morning to the sound of waves and fresh sea breeze in the morning. We made full use of the pool and the patio in front of the villa - great to lounge around after trips to Unawatuna/Marissa/Galle fort - all 15 to 45 min tuk tuk ride away. As mentioned in the website, the villas dont have a sandy beach and the sea may not be safe to swim at times, but the property is lovely and the staff amazing and other beaches are close by. Illuketia is an amazing property- an old plantation house done up and looked after extremely well. The pictures on the website dont do it justice. We stayed at the hisbiscus suite and again, it was a pleasure to wake up to the sounds of birds every morning. A special mention has be given to all the staff - Ruwan, Sumeet and everyone else and offcourse the manager Chaturi - who made the trip a very pleasant one. Nothing was too much trouble. We were extremely well looked after. And oh, did I not mention the food? The chefs at both the properties are superb and we enjoyed the Sri Lankan meals every time we dined. Cant wait to go back there again.

Room Tip: Hibiscus at Illuketia and rooms away from the road at Thalpe
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  • Stayed July 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 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 9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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96 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 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 (32)
Date | Rating
  • Danish first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Any
English first
Singapore, Singapore
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
23 helpful votes 23 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 11, 2012

I recommend this place to those travelers who have been spending a great deal of time on the coast and are eager to escape to the interior. The setting is beautiful. Green rice paddies and small colorful villages dot the surroundings. I wasn't sure I had arrived at the right place at first. But as I entered, I was pleasantly surprised. Beautiful colonial building, staying true to its roots in pristine condition. The rooms were very comfortable. We had our meals at the hotel (Sri Lankan cuisine) and they were very good. There is also a fantastic infinity pool where we were lucky enough to have view of monkeys swinging on the trees beside us.

Most importantly, the service was impeccable. Staff was courteous, professional.

I will be back!

Room Tip: Each room is different so I would contact the hotel and ask for details if the website doesn't p...
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  • Stayed March 2012, traveled with family
    • 4 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 8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Antwerpen
1 review
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 3, 2012

The old colonial building is situated in a splendid tropical garden with beautiful plants flowers and trees. It seems not real! In that garden a very nice swimming pool.
The house is tastefully decorated with antiques and modern furniture.
Absolute silence in the middle of the nature.
Staff is very friendly and helpfull. Food is excellent.
The owner also has a property at the ocean, about 6 km away in Talpe (villa Apa) . We also stayd there for two nights.
This small luxurious place is situated between the the road and the ocean, but there is no noise at all to hear. You can only hear the waves of the Indian ocean. Beautiful suites, excellent food and perfect service. It is situated on the beach, where you are almost alone.
If you are searching for paradise: here it is!
We had a great time and we could completely relax.

  • Stayed July 2012, traveled with family
    • 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 8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cambridge, United Kingdom
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 22, 2012

This is a gorgeous boutique style hotel, beautifully decorated with charm and character. everywhere you look is calm and pleasing to the eye. The gardens are spectacular with great bird and wildlife watching opportunities. You dine on the verandah, and watch brightly coloured birds flit through the trees. It was so beautiful we booked an extra night and spent a whole day chilling by the pool, in the garden, and lounging around on big sofas the verandah. The food was nice enough, although not as exceptional as the hotel and service, several other guests spoke highly of the curry menu which we didn't try on the one night we ate in. Take the tour of the garden which has been managed organically for over 10 years. It shows.

Room Tip: we stayed in the Lotus suite, off the atrium. it was spacious, cool, and very comfortable. I would d...
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  • Stayed March 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 9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bangalore
1 review
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed April 12, 2012

I am putting 1 star as I really want the management to take this point seriously.

If the website is updated properly, or some other action is taken (eg signposts), then this would be five stars as everything else about the place is fantastic.

My flight from India arrived at 10.15pm, and we took a taxi down to Illuketia. Although it was late, I called Chathurti as soon as we landed and said that we would be arriving at about 12.45am - 1am, and asked for someone to be available. We had not organised for a hotel car, which I obviously now regret.

Unfortunately, our drive was slower than expected and we were still an hour out by 1am. I called the hotel, and there was no response. As a small boutique hotel, this was not altogether unexpected, even though I had warned them about our late arrival.

So we decided to switch to their website for directions. The online map is so bad, it was impossible to locate anything. See http://www.villa-srilanka.com/apailluketia/map.htm.

Nothing on the map corresponds to what you might actually see on the road. There is no descriptive detail, and no scale. The so-called temple is a phantom. At least, if it does exist, it is a complete distraction in trying to navigate to Illuketia. The red dotted line is as infuriating as it is ridiculous. The "Apa Villa Illuketia" label on the map actually covers up an important route to the place.

We spent over an hour at around 2am going through winding roads, and trying to match the website map with Google maps and the GPS. Because the map has no scale, this is a big challenge in itself.

There isn't a single signpost on any of the connecting routes. The hotel itself doesn't even have a sign at the gate, so you could be standing outside and still have no clue that you had reached your destination.

In the absence of anyone answering the phones, or any meaningful descriptive detail on the website, we were forced to start knocking on random doors and waking people up in various villages at about 3am. We finally found someone who took us to the hotel.

The rest is history. It is a lovely hotel, but this initial experience was formative and completely avoidable with a little foresight by the management / ownership.

Moreover, Illuketia's inaccessibility was corroborated by two people I know who have been living in Galle for the past one year, and who have had repeated, similar experiences when trying to find the place for dinner. It seems to be known for its inaccessibility in the community.

Perhaps the management is turning a blind eye to this to emphasise its "boutiquiness"? But there really isn't any point in having a hotel if the guests have to go through such pain when trying to reach it.

After we arrived, I did tell Chathurti about this problem and, to be frank, she didn't seem to take much notice / interest in the problem.

I believe the owner is called Hans, so I want to use this review to appeal to him directly. Hans - please, please, please sort this out. It really ruined our first night at your fantastic hotel. Any (or ideally all) of the following will make me change the rating / remove this review:

1. 24 Hour answering the phones.
2. Signposts from the main routes.
3. Updation of your website map to include descriptive detail from the main roads, and a SCALE.
4. Sign outside Illuketia itself.

In the absence any of the above, there should be a big warning sign on your website that the only viable way to reach the place after everyone goes to bed is to take the hotel car. This should be communicated to guests at the time of booking, or when and if they call to say there may be a delay. Alternatively, tell guests that they can only check in during working hours.

If you can find Illuketia, it really is stunning. Since I now know how to get there, I hope to make this trip again in future.

  • Stayed April 2012, traveled with friends
    • 4 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 13
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London
Senior Contributor
35 reviews 35 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
31 helpful votes 31 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 26, 2012

This converted 19th Century plantation Villa is superb. Set in stunning grounds of tropical trees and plants, the beautifully designed gardens are a delight at every step. Grey Languars swing from tree to tree, monitor lizards wonder harmlessly across the lawn, the trees abound with birds and chipmunks and you are surrounded by the tropical hum of croaking frogs, cicardas and other insects. Yet you can sit with all the colonial grandeur on the terrace and look out at this wonderfull surrounding in complete relaxation and safety.

We stayed here for four nights. The staff are very good and happy to help with anything you may wish.
It is in a small village just outside of Galle and a short and inexpensive Tuk Tuk ride to Galle Fort. The villa set in acres of the plantation is gated and have staff manning the entrance 24/7. Driving past staff houses and store rooms you enter the landscaped grounds. Watch out for the bright blue kingfisher perched at the first pond. Your driven to the bottom of a flight of stairs and enter the Villa in what used to be the rear entrance. Surrounded in foliage you have no concept of the size of the villa until within. Go past the kitchen and the servants area and walk into an open roofed cloistered courtyard with a koi pond. There are four guest rooms off this courtyard behind beautiful ancient hardwood doors.

From this courtyard you step up into the luxurious living area which has a terrace on three sides. This is enclosed by a peaked temple style double roof. Large Bamboo and heavily cushioned sofas are in the centre of the room and the walls are bordered by 19th century Chinese painted furniture brimming with Oriental artifacts. There are six hardwood doors, saved from a temple, that are open all day and lead out on to the roofed terrace. Tables and chairs are dotted around the terrace and this is where you eat your meals, overlooking the grounds.

The breakfasts and dinners we had here were excellent. Rice and curry and Western options available. Many of the fruits and vegetables are grown on the plantation. The trees full of large star fruit, bananas, avacados and allsorts.

We stayed in the Habiscus suite which effectively is the master bedroom and has a two door veranda about 6 metres in length and edged with cushioned seating ideal for lounging with a bottle of wine and listening to the jungle below.

There is a seperate two bedroomed building called the Pond House which is about 50 metres from the Villa and has its own seperate courtyard overlooking a large pond.

There is a water theme throughout the grounds with stepping stones or small bridges crossing man made winding streams before you come to an opening and the marvellous swimming pool. Unlike any other pool your likely to imagine.

This isnt actually the jungle but it seems as if it is. There are sunlounges on the grass and monkeys swinging overhead and it encapsulates the Sri Lankan ideal of living with nature and not fighting against it.

All rooms have A/C, fans and ensuite showers. No TV in the rooms (what a god send). There is a communal TV on a mezzanine level if you cant miss that all important match. There is wi fi. There are only 6 rooms in total

How has such a wonderful place come about? Well the owner is Hans Hoffman, writer of over 120 travel guides, written since he started his world travel extravaganza in 1968 and lives between his properties in Nepal, Singapore and here. We had the privilege of meeting him whilst there and he claims still to be on that same journey.

If you are in this part of the world you must try and book this place first, even if its for one night.
Enjoy.

Room Tip: Habiscus Suite has a veranda to die for. Shower needs a fresh lick of paint though.
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  • Stayed March 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
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Belgium
Top Contributor
66 reviews 66 reviews
56 hotel reviews
Reviews in 55 cities Reviews in 55 cities
77 helpful votes 77 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 21, 2012

Over breakfast on the verandah we spotted a changeable hawk eagle, fire breasted woodpeckers, scarlet minnivets, barbets, and many others, Illuketia is a veritable bird watcher's paradise. The garden and pool are magnificent. We had been warned to watch out for the mosquitoes- but frankly we experienced no problems. The pool is quite lovely.
The house itself is full of character and very comfortable. We ate at Illuketia one evening and one evening at Unawatuna- the food was good. Service was efficient, although perhaps not as warm as at other Sri Lankan properties at which we stayed.
A trip into Galle Fort takes about 20-25 minutes by tuk-tuk, similarly to Unawatuna. Originally we booked to spend 5 nights at Apa Villa, Thalpe and then switched to spend the first 2 nights at Illuketia- we are very pleased that we chose to do this.

  • Stayed March 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 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
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Apa Villa Illuketia

Address: Illuketia Watta | Wanchawala, Galle, Sri Lanka
Phone Number:
Location: Sri Lanka > Southern Province > Galle
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#17 Family Hotel in Galle
#18 Romantic Hotel in Galle
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Number of rooms: 5
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
A villa hideaway with five suites set in 12 acres of garden and ponds. A luxury that our guests can discern on arrival. Only 15 minutes from Galle town, going to Illuketia is a return to nature and plantation lifestyle. The splendid mansion with original wooden temple doors, carved window frames and Oriental-style furniture is drawn out of a traveller's journal. A swimming pool in the far end of a lush garden allows a dip while watching birds and monkeys at close range. Three differently styled bedrooms are placed around a courtyard fish pond in the main house and two other suites are located in a separate Pond House. Each room varies in size and outlook, with its own walk-in wardrobe, sitting area indoor or outdoor. The Hibiscus Suite is considered the master room with a long private balcony lined with cushions and facing tall jack trees and rice fields. There is a separate walk-in wardrobe and en-suite bathroom. The Lotus Suite is aligned long and spacious with a walk-in wardrobe and en-suite bathroom. Windows look out to a water channel and flowering trees. The Citronella Suite is cozy and comes with a dining table and chairs in a private open-air verandah. It has its own wardrobe and en-suite bathrooms. All rooms are air-conditioned with additional ceiling fans and power points. The villa serves organic rice from its own rice fields, fruit, herbs and vegetables from the garden. Apa Villa's Sri Lankan Curry Rijstafel Dinner is all-time favourite among guests.. Apart from this, there is All Day menu of snacks, light meals and tea service. Evening meals are from an A La Carte with our stewards serving in the traditional sarong and tunic outfits. Booking for long-term of Pond House and whole villa welcomed. Illuketia and its grounds is ideal for weddings, anniversaries and birthday celebrations or groups with special interests like bird-watching, workshops, mahjong, painting and photography. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Apa Villa Illuketia Hotel Galle
Apa Hotel Illuketia

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