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“Great staff, beautiful setting but.....”
3 of 5 bubbles Review of Joe's Bungalow

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Joe's Bungalow
Ranked #30 of 122 Specialty Lodging in Unawatuna
Singapore, Singapore
Level Contributor
30 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
“Great staff, beautiful setting but.....”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 6, 2012

We stayed at Joe's over Christmas 2011 and were looking forward to some serious relaxation and a place to enjoy a family reunion of the holiday period. We were a party of 6 adults and 2 children, so had booked the main 4 bed bungalow and one of the two villas. We were prepared for road noise (most places that end of Unawatuna are on the main Galle road and buses and trucks honk their horns a lot in Sri Lanka - nothing that can be done about that so pack ear plugs if you think it will bother you) but not for the construction on the beach. The authorities had knocked down the property wall just before we arrived (for reasons we never really understood) and a digger worked for 3 days of our 6 day stay clearing it. Not the property's fault but it meant there was no safe way for the kids to access the beach other than us throwing them down. also the noise was pretty horrible our those days.

As a general review:

Pros:

Mahesh - the property's cook and main fixer. Totally made our trip, nothing was too much trouble from arranging a feast for breakfast and evening meal, preparing food for the kids and his amazing flour less chocolate cake to helping us hire a van for sightseeing, sorting the laundry and much more. There are lots of places to eat in the area but do let Mahesh cook you up a treat at least one night - you won't be disappointed! Mahesh gets a seperate 5* vote - he's excellent!

Location - once the digger departed, it was quiet enough, away from the hordes, great garden to watch the sunset from and a jump down the beach for a swim. The kids (and the rest of us!) loved watching the resident chipmunks go about their business from dawn until dusk.

Space - as we had the whole bungalow, we really had the run of the place, the bedrooms were big enough, especially the one bed villa which was really nice. The garden is lovely and there is a big outdoor sitting and dinning room with a table for 10.

Cons:

General upkeep - ok, Sri Lanka is a developing country but this place was not budget so things like air-con not working, toilets leaking, mosquito nets showing signs of previous squashings, general cleanliness all indicate that more attention needs to be given to this part of the business. Mahesh was run off his feet trying to look after our party and the other two families staying in the property - a housekeepeer to clean and keep on top of in addition / as support is a must as these issues were not resolved during our stay and really did take the shine off the good bits.

Items not working - neither the hot tub nor the wifi were working during our stay. not sure why.

Access to the beach - hopefully this will improve but when we were there, we had to climb over rubble to get to the beach.

Unwanted visitors - on Christmas Day a group of day trippers turn up with the intention of hanging out at the property. They were linked somehow with the owners or investors in the place and fancied a day at the beach. This was annoying as we'd payed for the use of the facilities - having specifically booked the place for our own use. A phone call to the management sorted things out and they eventualy left but it was unpleasant for a while and shouldn't have happened in the first place. If you hire out the property, you should understand you won't be able to rock up with a group of mates to hang out there.

We brought our issues to the attention of the property manager and he did recompense us for our trouble, and Mahesh and his food and careful attention certainly made up for a lot of the small irritations. I want to say I'd come back again, it ceretainly has great potential, but I'm just not sure.

Room Tip: Try the ground floor villa, or if in the main bungalow ask for one of the rooms on the beach side to...
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  • Stayed December 2011, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank ettibob
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kay009, Owner at Joe's Bungalow, responded to this review, November 19, 2013
Dear Guest

Thank you for taking the time to leave a review. May I take this opportunity to apologise for the unforseen incident with regards to the digger. We were just as upset and annoyed by this as you were. It was such unfortunate timing that this co-incided with your stay with us . With regards to the negative points listed in your review, thank you for noting here that once we were notified you were compensated for this. We want all our guests to feel welcome and have an enjoyable holiday. Again I can only apologise and I do hope this wont put you off returning again for a future holiday.

Thank you for your positive comments which are a joy to read

Kind Regards
Joe's Bungalow
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 bubbles
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (8)
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English first
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Level Contributor
33 reviews
27 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 16, 2011

Joe's is uniquely located on the very end of the Unawatuna Bay. It is private enough to get away and located within walking distance of the middle of the bay where everyone usually pow wows.

We booked a "villa" - this was a large comfortable room with all the creature comforts you will need. I had no complaints about the room but it was not a villa! The loo is small but serves the purpose. Towels are fresh and clean as are their sheets. The only thing travelers should be aware of is the noise. Joes is situated on the MAIN road, and although I didnt quite mind the noise I can see many travelers being more than peeved off about this. It is loud. The noise sometimes makes the panes on the windows shudder a little so we dubbed it aeroplane bus noise during our stay. If you want a lie in during your holiday this is not the best location!

On the flip side, Joes has a hot tub that overlooks the sea and only guests are allowed to use it :) We didnt have any meals here but Mahesh the cook was very obliging and the security guard was helpful when it came to finding our room keys late one evening. You can take your rations/ ask them to make meals for you.

Along with the usual hotspots you will find on your own, I highly recommend Prawn Omelettes and fresh baked bread "kade pang" at Peacock which is a short walk away and have the coldest beers in the Bay at Sunset colony right next to Joes.

I cant wait to go back.

Room Tip: Villas are nicer than the main house. Great to book the entire place out with a big crowd.
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  • Stayed November 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Aupert
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kay009, Owner at Joe's Bungalow, responded to this review, November 19, 2013
Dear Guest

Thank you for your valuable feedback and positive comments. We are really happy to hear you will be back to stay with us again! Noted your comments about the noise from the road, we are trying to overcome this as much as possible by changing to double glazing in the property.

Many Thanks once again
Joe's Bungalow
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Squamish, Canada
Level Contributor
9 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 24, 2011

We had done a whole lot of research and decided on Joe's based on the website and photos. We were traveling with a hired driver and had inquired about staff quarters and were pleasantly surprised to know they were available. Upon arrival, we were disappointed. Perhaps it was the string of fantastic (and sometimes very basic) accommodation we had stayed in prior, but what we were offered was opposite to what we expected. We paid 1/2 up front, though many of the other places we stayed at did not require this. The bungalow we were shown was small, musty and basic - considering the cost. The driver's quarters were right above us so it felt like were were sharing a room with him. We immediately called Colombo and after much negotiation we were offered the larger villa with several bedrooms and lounging area. We choose the cleanest room as all others seemed to be occupied, though we are not sure by whom. There were boxes stored in the main area, and furniture in need of repair. Given this was a last minute switch, it didn't bother us too much. What did bother us was that someone else had slept in the Villa - not upstairs but on the same floor - and we were not informed. The unidentified guest had entered from a door onto the courtyard later in the evening. The bathroom off our suite had a leaky toilet and shower so we used another bathroom. We stayed long enough to use up our down payment less one night. As mentioned in other reviews, Padma and Guyan were the highlights of our trip. The food Padma prepared was amazing and if not for her, our visit would've have seemed empty. Yes the beach was right there which was nice. And there was a nice outdoor lounging area to have a glass a wine and enjoy the evening.

This review comes late as for some reason I forgot to include it upon my return. I have to say though, the feeling remains, this would not be on my list for a revisit.

  • Stayed November 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
4 Thank tarouskie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Washington DC, District of Columbia
Level Contributor
11 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 3, 2011

Idyllic beach garden setting w/ fantastic food. We originally booked for 2 nights and ended up staying 7 nights. Padma the cook creates wonders in her kitchen.

  • Stayed January 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Radio-Rosie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kay009, Owner at Joe's Bungalow, responded to this review, January 21, 2011
Thanks for your lovely review...glad you enjoyed your stay!!! Hope to see you again at Joe's Bungalow. Kate
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Almaty, Kazakhstan
Level Contributor
40 reviews
36 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 48 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 1, 2011

Having read the review below I was understandably worried about my stay at Joe's Bungalow (it appeared after we'd already booked). Having said there, I felt that the reviewer was overly harsh and did not give the bungalow credit for some very positive aspects. The setting of the bungalow is undeniably stunning - it looks out over the beach and has a lovely private garden which is great for sitting and reading in. The staff are friendly and helpful and will cook meals for you (we only took breakfast). We met Joe himself, who was very friendly and was telling us all about the area and the property. It is good value for money, given the location you get. The rooms, although damp, are well fitted and have comfortable beds.

The major drawback of Joe's Bungalow is the fact it is located right on the main road from Galle, which is very busy and noisy throughout the day and night. We struggled to get a good night's sleep in our 3 night stay - and that was with one of us wearing earplugs. The trucks and buses hoot their horns as they are going past, as its on a slight bend in the road. The ground floor villa seems to be slightly better than the upper floor, as it has marginal protection from the surrounding wall.

This criticism has to be placed in the context of Unawatuna as a whole - it is not a quiet place. Most of the other properties are either along the same road as Joe's Bungalow or are in the village itself where the noise comes from the all-night bars and discos. Pick your evil!!! You really need to decide whether the road noise would bother you that much - for two of our party of four it did, but the other two felt it didn't.

  • Stayed December 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank sarahlrhodes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kay009, Owner at Joe's Bungalow, responded to this review, January 21, 2011
HI Sarah

Thanks for your review and just to let you know we are planning on doing some refurbishing during the off season and hopefully the rooms will be more sound proof!!

Many Thanks
Kate
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sydney
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 7, 2010

This place looks great in photos. Unfortunately in reality it is located right on the highway which means that we were kept awake most of the night by the honking horns of passing lorries. While being located on the 'quiet' end of Unawatuna, this place is also next to a vacant block that is used by locals and tuk tuk drivers for beach parties. This meant we got accosted every time we walked out of the beach front gate. Not to mention the drunk men sitting right on the steps of the bungalow who would peer in at us. The villas are actually quiet dark and musty inside and there is a 3rd floor that can be used as staff/ drivers quarters which takes away from the privacy. We didn't enjoy our stay here and left earlier than planned.

On the positive side- Padma the cook is a wonderful lady and makes fantastic dinners. Gayan, the all rounder guy, is a very helpful and nice to guests. Between them, they made our short stay bearable.

  • Stayed October 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Jules2010Sydney
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kay009, Owner at Joe's Bungalow, responded to this review, November 18, 2010
Dear Guest

I am dissapointed to hear that you didnt enjoy your stay at Joe's Bungalow......especially after trying to accomodate all your requests that you made during your stay.

You mentioned that the place looks great in the photos. I just want to mention that the photos we have displayed are not professional, but taken by ourselves and do represent a true picture of the Bungalow, Villas, garden and beach. The photos have not been edited in any way.

The Villa's do look dark with all of the window blinds down and we tend to keep the doors shut as much as possible to avoid mosquitos and dust / sand blowing inside the rooms.

We have added brighter bedside laps in the Villas now, but there are full glass widows on 2 walls of each villa, so I have to disagree that the Villas are dark in the day time if you have the blinds open.

There is a 3rd floor above the villas, which I think would be expected in many hotels if they allocated you a room on the 2nd floor, there would be guests staying on the third floor, unless you specifically request otherwise. However I understand now that this is not what you were expecting. For a totally private, secluded Villa there is one further down Unawatuna that I know about charging over $200 per night.

Unawatuna beach is known for being one of the best beaches in Sri Lanka and thats what attracts so many tourists. Unfortunately it is a public beach and we are unable to control who enjoys it. I think you would have found this wherever you stayed along Unawatuna beach however you would have surely paid more at any other place on this stretch

Thank you for your kind comments about Padma and Gayan, I will pass them onto them.

Kind Regards
Kate
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Perth, Australia
Level Contributor
156 reviews
48 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 148 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 9, 2010

We stayed 5 nights at Joes and would have stayed longer had we the time. The pros: For us it was the BEST location in Unawatuna at the quiet east end. The water laps right up to the front retaining wall and you can enjoy reading, cocktails etc under the shade of the palm trees overlooking the ocean whilst the lovely staff attend your every need with extra ice, limes for your drink, comfy lounge chairs etc. It's a little oasis. We went snorkelling right out the front and saw coral and fish. The sea here is calm like a bay and would be great for small children. The property comes with a resident couple who manage the gardens/security/housekeeping. Padma the cook comes in each day around 7am to serve your every whim. Whatever you want for breakfast is no problem as Padma is a well seasoned professional who has international experience. We opted for Sri Lankan cuisine, left it to her imagination and were treated with more food than 4 people could consume. All this for USD25 per couple per day. She shops daily for each meal and on one occasion I accompanied her for the experience. Lots of fun on the local bus. Such a lovely lady. We will return to Joes with our children however the cons - don't expect luxurious sleep ins. The bungalow mattresses are rock hard and after 5 days we were over it. The bungalows are situated behind a tall, brick security fence between the main road and beach, so each morning from 6.30am we were woken by traffic and honking horns negotiating the corner. No mosquito netting meant my partner woke one morning with around 80 bites on his torso and limbs despite anal retentive shutting of doors and running A/C and fan. Bathroom can be a bit on the nose and water pressure very low. However, we found that the pro's outweighed the cons as we had the whole complex and staff to ourselves and they made us feel like royalty. The place has two 2 bed bungalows and a villa that sleeps 8. If we had to share the garden etc it may not have been so ideal.

  • Stayed January 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank juliezzz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kay009, Owner at Joe's Bungalow, responded to this review, July 6, 2010
HI juliezzz

Thanks for your review and feedback and we are glad you enjoyed your stay. Just wanted to keep you informed that we have taken note of your points regarding the matresses, Mosquito nets and water pressure and these have been improved now and we have made other improvements to the property aswell.

Unfortunately we cant do anything about the noise from the main road, I wish we could, but the Sri Lankan traffic is generally crazy and noisy!

Hope to see you again at Joes Bungalow in the future

Kind Regards
Kate
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Joe's Bungalow

Property: Joe's Bungalow
Address: Unawatuna Beach, Unawatuna, Sri Lanka
Location: Sri Lanka > Southern Province > Galle District > Unawatuna
Hotel Style:
Ranked #30 of 122 Specialty Lodging in Unawatuna
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Number of rooms: 6
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Joe's Bungalow is a privately owned beach bungalow with 4 double rooms in the main house and 2 seperate villas. The whole property can accomodate 12 people. Situated on Unawatuna the beach, the property has a large garden and jacuzzi for guests. No food is included in the room rate but we provide a cook who can prepare meals. Rates are $200 for the bungalow (4 double rooms) per night and $50 per villa per night. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Joe`s Bungalow Hotel Unawatuna

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