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“Hidden charm and beauty”

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Apa Villa Illuketia
Ranked #11 of 23 Hotels in Galle
Certificate of Excellence
Shanghai, China
Level Contributor
60 reviews
32 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 39 helpful votes
“Hidden charm and beauty”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 6, 2013

We stayed at Apa Villa Illuketia, after 3 nights at their sister hotel in Thalpe. Originally we were unable to get 5 nights at Thalpe, so Chathuri recommended 2 nights at Illuketia, which we decided to do.
Well we are pleased we got to enjoy the best of both worlds, Thalpe being on the beach and Illuketia being 5km inland. You cannot compare these 2 properties, as they truly have 2 different feelings, Illuketia being peaceful, with an older charm in the jungle, versus Thalpe being more modern by the beach. When I originally booked Chathuri was managing both properties, she is now based at Thalpe and Illuketia has a new manager since Feb 2013. It was lovely to have some of the same staff that we met at Thalpe, as they work between the two.
We were transfered from Thalpe, so transport there was straight forward, I would recommend getting Hotel transport so you don't get lost, as it is a hidden gem.
We stayed at the pond house, in the Jasmine room allowing plenty of room for us and our 6 year old daughter. Our daughter loved seeing all the wildlife, over the 3 days we were there we saw, mongoose, monitor lizard, guana, water snakes, cows, monkeys and their babies and plenty of birds, fire flies, squirrels and more.
Again like Thalpe, food was amazing, and the staff always willing to help, we were looked after by Sumith majority of the time otherwise Dominica was always great when Sumith was unavailable.
We met the new manager, he was extremely friendly, and was never too busy to chat and took time to farewell us when we left.
You must come here if you enjoy a slower pace, nature all around, this is what makes this place special, if you are looking for 5 star and a busier time, this may not be for you. It was perfect for us to unwind, and get away from the rush of today's world.
Getting transport from here to Unawatuna was easy by tuk tuk, we had an afternoon at the beach there, for us it was refreshing to come back from the hustle and bustle of the beach, and enjoy the peace at Illuketia.
My advice would be mix it up with a few nights at each of these sister hotels, you won't be disappointed, be prepared for some peace, beauty in an original setting.
If I had one thing to say for any improvement, would be to add some more color and fragrances to the pond house rooms & bathrooms this would bring the rooms alive even more. I never saw the rooms in the main house, but I gather they were smaller.
Thank you to the team at Illuketia, for making our trip special, we would definitely return.

Room Tip: Pond house gives you more privacy and you have a balcony looking over the lilly pond.
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  • Stayed April 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank Alyson H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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131 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (42)
Date | Rating
  • Chinese (Simplified) first
  • Danish first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Swedish first
  • Any
English first
Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
45 reviews
36 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 33 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 5, 2013

This was our second stay at Apa Villa; we had a 3 night stay in March 2012. It did not disappoint. It is beautiful hotel set in fabulous jungle gardens which are constantly being managed by a team of workers. It is a stunning place!

We stayed in the Ginger Suite which is part of the Pond House. This has a huge bed with permanent mosquito net and excellent air conditioning. The outside toilet and shower is interesting; it has a slatted roof so nothing major can drop in but going to the toilet at night can be 'interesting' the pond is a constant source of interest with birds, fish, terrapins, frogs, water monitor and the occasional snake making an appearance. The local road runs along the side too so passing locals will usually wave and say hello.

The main building is spectacular and eating meals on the terrace is always a very special experience. Breakfasts are brilliant and you would rarely need much more to eat during the day. Dinner is either a very varied Sri Lankan Rice and Curry with most dishes featuring produce from the garden or a Western alternative which features gorgeous fresh fish. The curries are a little bit bland for our taste but still very tasty. The crab curry (ordered in advance) is a MUST!

The enormous grounds are a great place to spend time strolling, wildlife watching and taking a cooling dip in the fabulous swimming pool which is superb with loungers and towels available. Anyone interested in wildlife will love the gardens which attracts a wide variety of birds, monkeys high in the canopy, the occasional mongoose and giant land monitor plus the occasional snake. There are waterways everywhere with fish providing movement. It is an extremely relaxing place to spend time.

We went for a long circular walk through farming communities and villages and were typically met by friendly, smiling locals wanting to say hello and ask where we were going. It is worth the effort to get out of the hotel grounds for a while. We also walked down to the main road a couple of times to take the local bus into Galle. This is always great fun but avoiding the time when schools are closing is a good strategy. At around 2:00 pm the buses can be chaotic! Galle is definitely worth a visit. The Fort area is very touristy but still nice. We also had a couple of hours watching a Test match against Bangladesh but there were very few spectators (it was a week day) so not much atmosphere.

The staff (largely the same as our last visit) are very professional, long serving and really nice. They alternate between Illuketia and the sister hotel at Thalpe. Last year and this year we had dealt with Chathuri who was overall manager of the two hotels. She is an outstanding leader constantly wanting to know if there was anything else we needed. This year a new manager of Illuketia has been appointed quite recently. He was more than a little bit conspicuous by his absence during our stay and we felt that there was a noticeable decline in elements of standards as a result. Whilst we would not appreciate over-enthusiastic and cloying service we would have expected a bit more personal service particularly being repeat customers; however, he did not appear to know in advance that we had stayed last year! We might, for example, have expected the manager to make a point of being available to say goodbye on our departure but he did not.

It is worth a trip to the Thalpe hotel which the staff will happily organise with a tuktuk. It appears that most guests spend at least part of a day at the other premises. It is really interesting to see similar architectural features in two very different environments - jungle and beach. The identical swimming pool is an interesting feature at each hotel. For us; we could not wait to get back to the quiet jungle after an hour listening to pounding wave and no wildlife other than hermit crabs. We did, however, receive avery warm welcome from Chathuri, the manager at Thalpe.

We would strongly recommend Apa Villa Illuketia. The fact that we have visited a second time illustrates our level of enjoyment. I hope that the new management regime analyses a few issues and returns to the quality of our first visit.

Room Tip: We have stayed in the Ginger Suite, part of the Pond House, twice. It is fabulous.
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  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
2 Thank PhilGordon208
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London
Level Contributor
36 reviews
34 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 64 helpful votes
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 3, 2013

We booked two nights stay at Illuketia, wanting to give our 11-day Sri Lanka trip a perfect ending. However, high expectation after reading all reviews, really disappointed stay.

Let's start something positive: Design/layout of the villa: lots of green; fantastic pool; lotus pond etc, which can be described as 'where Bali meets Sri Lanka'. Inside your room, bed is comfortable. balcony is huge, it was very lovely to sit on the balcony in early morning.

But following points may alarm people who want to stay:

1. Unprofessional staff: there were about two main staff looking after dinner/breakfast, as well as room cleaning/luggage handling. maybe a bit too much to do for them? Somehow they lack of professionalism and warmth of serving the clients. Breakfast you have to wait about 10mins before they started asking you. Although they tried to help you, sometime their English is difficult to understand. I even saw one staff was counting tips in kitchen! Manager, who was welcoming and a good listener, offered to organize travel itinerary in Galle and to arrange transport, however, there is no second half afterwards. Also manager's work wears are a bit unprofessional, rather than looking like locals, advice to the owner/manager will be to standardize work address with name badge. All in all, staff needs to be trained and has a long way compared to other top villas.

2. Power cut with no pre-warning: we experienced power cut, twice! during our two days stay. Both started around 8am and not saw the return of power till late afternoon/early evening. Absurdly there was no pre-warning at all! If you were the owner/management of the villa, you should inform your guests at least the night before, even it's a government planned cut, which surely guests would appreciate in a developing country.No apologies/explanation were given until we asked the staff. We couldn't use any laptop/charging mobile/nor air conditioning. Water supply stopped suddenly during morning time as well-- my wife was having a shower and found there was no water when she wanted to rinse off the shower foam.......

3. Greedy in-house tuktuk driver: what a ridiculous driver we have experienced! Asking price was 600rupee from the villa to Galle fort (usually should be around 400-500rupee), he asked 700! He wanted to take another return business to the villa but we refused, simply because he couldn't understand English and our requirements! The next day we went to a local tourist gem stone shop. His role should be completed once we paid him. But he stayed by the gate and guess what, trying to let the shop know he introduced the clients (and get some commission)! We were very angry and ask him to leave straight away. Another advice for the owner/management: hire a more reliable/credible tuktuk driver. If you can't provide a free ride for guests, please employ a good one!

4. Food: definitely failed to impress, not at luxury villa standard, somewhere between 2-star and 3-star. Breakfast was so-so and not many highlights. Dinner option was limited. I tried curry&rice one night, gravy was light and chicken was tasteless.

5. Location: I didn't realize how bad it was, saw some other clients mentioned but the villa needs a more concrete drive plan. Also you need to factor in 20-30mins/600rupee one way from the villa to the fort.

6. Check-out experience: probably, again the most ridiculous. Because of the power cut, they can't use the card machine! If the staff saw this happening and planned in advance, they wouldn't ask the guests to take a free tuktuk ride to their sister Apa villa and come back! without considering guests need such as catching a train or other plans. Luckily we left with some cash and sorted out the issue ourselves.

7. Other points: poor internet connection/no in-room sofa or chairs.

To summarize: Apa villa Illuketia stay experience fell significantly below our expectations. It has a long way to catch a 4-star hotel/villa, not to mention luxury peers. We would rank as somewhere between 2-star and 3-star. Illuketia has the potential but needs to take above points seriously

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
7 Thank zumibruce
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bakewell, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
49 reviews
45 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 43 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 28, 2013

We thoroughly enjoyed our nights At Apa Villa. We had a large airy room which opened up on to an equally large private terrace overlooking part of the garden. The gardens are quite extensive with a great many interesting plants, and a productive vegetable plot, it is also home to many birds and wildlife including monkey and mongoose.
The food was imaginative, very well prepared and presented, and service was always friendly and willing though not proactive.
All in all a lovely place to stay and relax.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank PeakTravellers12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Glasgow, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
53 reviews
39 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 66 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 21, 2013

I can endorse many of the other recent reviews. Lovely building, comfortable rooms and stunning gardens with a lovely swimming pool at the far end. Food is excellent with nearly all produce grown on site. I particularly enjoyed relaxing and watching the troop of purple-faced leaf monkeys and bird life feeding in the trees. The place is surrounded by local residents and feels perfectly secure but the owner has recently installed lighting throughout the gardens which made me wonder if there is some concern on that front. Galle is only 10 mins away and the sister beach property Apa Villa only 15 mins where you can go and enjoy beach time there. We stayed a couple of nights in March and the only downside was the relative heat and humidity of this inland secluded location which also means the pool area in the gardens can have a lot of biting insects. No problem though in a/c and bed-netted rooms. I'd recommend combining a stay here with Apa Villa in Thalpe to get best of both hotels.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Grant E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 15, 2013

This place was an absolute find. The most amazing garden setting, beautiful swimming pool and beautiful colonial sri lankan architecture. We went there 4 years ago and I still think of this as one of the most special places ever.

  • Stayed April 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank EmmaVic77
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Brighton, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
11 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 11, 2013

I felt sad that I had to leave Illuketia! It really is true paradise, the photos look good but they not do it justice. We booked Illuketia for our wedding from just researching online for the UK and I was slightly nervous that we had taken a risk doing it this was but we were soon put out of any doubts as soon as we arrived and met Chathuri (the lovely manager).

Walking round Illuketia is like being in your own personal national park with exceptional service. The staff are brilliant, they are always on hand without being obvious. Chathuri was amazing. And we were fortunate enough to meet Hans, the owner, who is a very interesting man and we felt honoured to have him at our wedding!

We booked all of the rooms out for the wedding day and so it really felt like our own private paradise for the day. On our third day our guests left so we had to share with others! But still it was lovely and there is plenty of space for everyone.

We stayed in the pond house which ad a lovely swing overlooking the pond. The rooms are all nice and well equipped (although one tip might be to offer tea/coffee making facilities in the rooms). The pond house rooms have these beautiful outside bathrooms.

The pool is something else, you feel like you are swimming in the jungle watching the monkeys overhead. And when it rains the nature comes out to play, the sound effects at night are out of this world. Hans took us on a moonlight safari which was a highlight for me!

The food was exceptional. For our wedding we had an extensive sri lankan buffet that was so nice we ordered a similar dish for dinner the next evening.

We went for a long walk around Illuketia and it really is nowhere near any other tourists which was great, we met some locals who invited us in their house for tea.

Our wedding day was very special. We had kandyan dancers, a buddhust blessing, a band, plenty of food and drink and all you could expect from a wedding day and more all organised by Chathuri. The standard of wedding was of a very high standard for a reasonable price and much more interesting than a normal western wedding.

Anyway, I'll stop waffling and add some photos but all I can say is do not hesitate to stay here. Hans spoke about building a 'birds nest' room in a water tower which we will definitely be back to see!

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled with friends
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank MissCake17
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

Property: Apa Villa Illuketia
Address: Illuketia Watta | Wanchawala, Galle, Sri Lanka
Location: Sri Lanka > Southern Province > Galle District > 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:
#6 Family Hotel in Galle
#6 Romantic Hotel in Galle
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Apa Villa Illuketia 3.5*
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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