I've had an amazing stay at Dunes, so much so that when I left after 2 nights to continue my trip and hated my next B&B, I hopped in a tuk tuk and came back to Dunes the same day!
Where do I start?
First of all, the hotel itself is beautiful. Built entirely from scratch on his uncle's land, the owner Gayan and his partner Jenny have created a well thought through space that is modern, attractive, peaceful and extremely comfortable. I stayed in two different rooms, and both were the most comfortable I've slept in on my entire trip (which includes a month in Thailand). The beds may even rival my own back home in London, which is saying a lot.
The food - it's really really good. I tend to like trying lots of different restaurants as food is all part of the travelling experience for me; but I really liked eating at Dunes because I soon realised that it couldn't be beaten. It's still early days for Dunes (they've only been going a year) but when they're ready to open up as a functioning restaurant to non-residents I think they'll start to get known as one of the best places to eat in Unawatuna. And the story behind the young chef is impressive!
If you come to stay, then eat at least once there and definitely try the vegetable curry - I had pumpkin curry, with all the trimmings (which in Sri Lanka is usually sambal, daal, poppadoms and a couple of other side dishes). Sometimes I've had eggplant chips thrown in too and Dunes sometimes do an awesome date chutney which you could ask for if it's not provided with your meal, they're very accommodating. All prepared fresh and from scratch for you - as is typical in Sri Lanka... which means you just have to expect it to take a while to cook.
The only downside is that Breakfast isn't included but this i'm struggling to find any flaws as it's only an extra 650rupees ($5) and its worth it. You get a fruit place (with passion fruit, banana, pineapple and watermelon), a fresh fruit juice, and a choice of either eggs (however you like it), Sri Lankan curd (yoghurt) with syrup (which I added my passionate fruit seeds into, plus their homemade mango jam); or you opt for traditional cornflakes and milk, or some local options like hoppers or roti. With all breakfast options you can choose either tea or a fresh pot of coffee. And the coffee is really good. I'm not a massive coffee drinker but here i've had two pots a day on average.
Dunes isn't a party place, it's for grown up travellers who appreciate a nice space and respect other people's privacy and need for quiet. Suitable for families, couples, solos or groups. Which is perfect in Unawatuna, as if you want to have a drink, dine out, hit the beach or going to a party there are heaps of options only 5 minutes walk down the road.
And should you want to, Dunes will organise you any trips you want or drivers round the island etc. Gayan is always happy to chat to you about your trip and provide useful info and recommendations to ensure you have a great (and safe) vacation.
Dunes get pretty booked up in advance and were fully booked most days I stayed there (a total of 8 days in the end!) so this is one place that's worth committing to a good week or two in advance. And be prepared to want to stay a bit longer than you originally planned!
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