We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“Don't miss this Hotel out!! Must stay at least two nights!!!”
Review of The River House

Best prices for -
Check In mm/dd/yyyy Check Out mm/dd/yyyy
Prices are for 1 room, 2 adults
Show Prices
Compare best prices from top travel sites
and 6 more sites!
The River House
Ranked #3 of 5 Hotels in Balapitiya
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed December 6, 2012

This was the first hotel we stayed at during our two weeks in Sri Lanka. I set up a transfer from the airport to the hotel. The driver was on time and was very safe.The greeting at the hotel was wonderful. The room was beautiful, very spacious and very clean. Room service was exceptional and the tea, coffee and home made cake very much appreciated. The manager was very helpful and organised our transfer to the next Hotel, and also for the driver to pick us up from the other hotel and take us to the train station in Colombo, also organizing the train tickets! The food was excellent, and the service too. Probably the best Sri Lankan breakfast i had during my two week stay. There is no spa but you can arrange for a massage in your room, this was a treat well worth having after a long journey. The boat trip is a must. Yes, a few tips are given to the locals, but it doesn't have to break your bank, they are happy with whatever you give them. Well worth the experience. The beach is a short walk away, remember, this is a river house hotel! The whole experience was a warm and welcoming intro to beautiful Sri Lanka. Thank you to all the staff!!

Room Tip: All the rooms are beautiful, just take your pick!!!
See more room tips
  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank Luosjohn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a Review
Reviews (186)
Traveler rating
Traveler type
Time of year
Language

134 - 140 of 186 reviews

Reviewed October 1, 2012

Fantastic boutique hotel. It is an oasis of tranquility in a stunning location, overlooking the river with a beautiful stretch of beach just a short tuk-tuk ride away. Service impeccable and nothing seemed too much trouble. I would totally recommend it as an unwind holiday for those looking to relax. Food was excellent and rooms incredibly stylish. All in all, fautless

  • Stayed: September 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank Jennie M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 25, 2012

Once in a while you come across an amazing find, the sort of place that you will leave you breathless and fulfil even your wildest expectations. The sort of place where you want to call all of your friends and tell them of your magnificent find but hesitate as this is a secret place and the less people that know about it the better as there is a fear that this may somehow reduce the charm. 
My wife and I visited the River house after a rather intense tour of Sri Lanka, we stayed three nights and had the place to ourselves. We loved watching the fireflies dance in the balmy air and listening to the noises of the insects and animals bounce around the darkness, the 100's of fruit bats leaving their nesting areas at dusk and the sight of wood peckers nesting in a nearby tree. The room (Kala) was beautiful and extremely spacious with antique furniture and a fabulous bathroom with doors opening out to the secluded garden.
We informed Kapila the waiter that we were on our honeymoon and were greeted by an extra special table for dinner with many candles and flowers laid out in the garden and pond. When we returned to our room our bed was laden with fresh flowers that had been meticulously placed. the food is superb - especially the local curries and the service devine.
Tip..take the boat trip but be prepared that the places you visit will require a tip or payment, we were unaware and didn't take enough small bills so felt awkward visiting some places and requested our skipper that we return to the hotel to avoid embarrassment as we didn't have any more money for tips.
Other than this this wa quite simply the best hotel that we have ever stayed in

Room Tip: Upstairs room is magnificent
See more room tips
  • Stayed: September 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
2  Thank Jeff V
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 11, 2012

What to say about this place that would do it justice? We came and stayed here for a few days during the Eid holidays in August and were absolutely bowled over...

We arrived very early in Colombo and hired a driver to show us around Galle - a really beautiful place but beware of being taken to all the side sights which aren't so interesting. Drivers will also expect you to pay tips to their mates wherever they take you.

After a morning in Galle, we were driven to the hotel which is off the main road into town. There is only a little sign from the main road and you could miss it easily. The driver was a little worried as the road turned into a fairly rough dirt track in the jungle. But then once the gate of the property opened...

The place is pretty magical. Lush and verdant. It's quiet (other than the sounds of nature and the wind in the leaves) and remote - but not that remote, you can hear the sounds of the villages in the background. There's only about 5 rooms. The guys showed us around and one of the rooms has a jacuzzi on the terrasse which is pretty cool.

Ours was one of the two rooms at the back. By room, I mean more suite, with its own little garden and pond. The rooms are huge, well furnished and pleasant. We particularly liked the bathroom - elegant and understated. In the room, there was a funny "porthole" and bell to ring if you need anything - a bit awkward at first but quite fun and actually pretty practical. The turn-down, the incense etc. were all very nice touches. We particularly loved tea time. Every day, we got offered delicious tea and homemade cake when and where we wanted it (it was a nice treat by the pool one afternoon).

Make sure you take the boat ride - the river is great. It is enormous and has more than 60 islands. The Captain knows it inside out as he is from one of the islands. As other reviewers have suggested bring money with you - you will want to give tips to the cinnamon farmer, the monks at the temple etc. Make sure you have small denominations too (we got caught out). The river is wild and wonderful and it's important to remember that the region was ravaged by the Tsunami. While you are out there you never really forget that many have lost loved ones.

Also make sure you sample the surroundings. Do borrow the canoes. We also borrowed some bikes and cycled around the town. There's an interesting temple up the road with a friendly guide who will answer all your questions on buddhism. You can also cycle down to the beach. The beach itself isn't amazing, the ocean was very rough and there wasn't much to see.

The highlight of the place other than the natural beauty of the place is the staff - truly wonderful people. Our waiter for most of our stay was the lovely Kapila. Best wishes to him as we know he was getting married the week after our stay!

The Manager, the Captain, the gardeners, the nice man who does the laundry - all were lovely and never once did we feel them to be overbearing (unlike other reviewers).

The food was also excellent. We hardly strayed from the Sri Lankan menu. Our two favourites where the dhal (which I had pretty much at every meal) and the aubergine curry - out of this world.

Highlights of the trips amongst many things: watching the bats come out at night while swimming in the pool, watching the tropical rain sitting in the easy chair on the patio... Simple pleasures in a simple place.

In a nutshell, if you want a place where the pace is slow and you want to appreciate your surroundings, this is the place for you. We felt great sadness when we left...

  • Stayed: August 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
2  Thank Crunchy_Frog
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 16, 2012

Our expeienced driver who has worked for many years in tourism in Sri Lanka was blown away when the gates opened and we pulled into the grounds of The River House.

Another Sri Lankan hotel that gets you thinking you have made the wrong accomadation choice in the approach road to the hotel but this is quickly erased when you exit the car outside the house and see the stunning views over the calm river at the bottom of the garden.

Our welcome was wonderful. Beautifully cold fresh fruit juice and towels on the crisp white couches on the verandah.

A relaxing explanation of the facilities where quickly followed by a tour of our room which was No 2 the Gin Room (not jin but gin). It has high vaulted ceilings with lots of use of classic dark Sri Lankan wood furniture and crisp white paint in between the joists. With extensive ability to select the perfect lighting for your moods, your senses where further enhanced by the pleasant aroma of the incense sticks burning on the table. A huge practical bathroom with a fantastic wet shower area and ample places to hang clthes both wet and dry. It looks, feels and smells like you have truly discovered the a real taste of Sri Lanka. The midnight outdoor private jacuzzi with drinks was invigorating yet calming.

Most people who come to Sri Lanka will stay in multiple locations of anywhere between 1-7 nights per hotel. I chose this as the non-beach and non-city element and it did not dissapoint.
You feel as thought you are in a lagoon in a tropical rainforest which is techincally what it is! Only 2 minutes from the beach and with the ability to travel with the hotel boat for a tour of the nearby locally inhabited islands. With 15 minutes of entering the boat we were photographing large water moniters and vaious sized kingfishers displaying their stunning aray of colours.
The tour was great fun and demonstrated local life rather well.

The hotel has possibly the best pool we have experienced on this trip in terms of setting, temparature and cleanliness.

On our final evening had a stunning dinner by the pool from where you cannot see the hotel building. The pool has a lovely canopy which (was great for lunch) and had been lit by candles with flowers spinkled about on the floor. The surrounding trees again where sublty lit with uplighters so you could not forget where you where. The display of the fireflies lighting up the darkness was a memory i will keep forever. The staff did not have to do this for us but they certainly made us feel very special with the surprise of the table setting. I thought the waiter had forgot to set our table in the main building!!

The staff here are fantastic. Not only are they very classicly trained and attentive but they also do not overpower and have a nice chat and assist whenever needed. A special mention must go to Kapila and i wish him very well for his forthcoming marriage.

In terms of food it is 5star for Sri Lanka. The does not mean Michelin star, it means it is of a very high standard for Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan restaurants have a pleasant innocence in terms of the combination of styles and global cuisines they incorporate into their menus. The authentic Sri Lankan options are available along side some obviouse European and Asian choices.The 3 of us tried most of the menu over our stay and apart from the odd very spicy item we had no complaints.
The wine is reasonably priced and this was another hotel which ran out of vodka (maybe thats just our fault :-/ )but there are more than enough alternatives to find something to delight.

I will came back to The River House as it let me try a holiday experience that was unique considering the countries we have visited over the years.

So to escape the noise of the cities and the bright hot beaches try a jungle/river location to test your senses to their limits.

I look forward to my return.

Room Tip: I wish there were 6 stars for location. With only 5 rooms they are all slightly individual in terms...
See more room tips
  • Stayed: July 2012, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
2  Thank JimMon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 26, 2012

This is a hidden gem that will be well worth the 2.5 hour drive from Colombo Airport. We could not have asked for a more relaxing experience and attentive staff. The manager was very personable and made all arrangements for our daily outings within the West Coast of Sri Lanka. Would we come back?!?!...to Sri Lanka, ABSOLUTELY...to The River House, DEFINITELY!!! A few lessons learned: Bring bug spray, have native currency when visiting the islands during the scenic boat tour, and don't fret about a rainy weather forecast (it rains, but NOT every day and NOT all day).

Room Tip: We stayed in the MENIK room that had a second floor balcony and plunge pool/jacuzzi.
See more room tips
  • Stayed: June 2012, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank Donna A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 20, 2012

The drive from Mirissa by tuk tuk was approx 2.5 hours, and the river house was very hard to find down a very poorly maintained dirt track. We were hot and tired and in need of a rest. What we found when we arrived was the stuff that dreams are made of. Firstly, the greeting from the manager and staff was lovely; our luggage disappeared only to reappear in our room and the quick guided tour from the manager with a water melon smoothy was a nice touch. The hotel is pure class and luxury set in 7 acres of lush jungle/mangrove with only 5 rooms, all exceptionally well proportioned and maintained. The decor is simple yet stylish. The manager said as we were the only guests that we could eat when we wanted and what we wanted.

Please do take the boat trip, but do make an effort and get up early the wildlife is amazing-monitor lizards, king fishers, monkeys, river jelly fish and many more- too many to mention! Do take some small change with you-this is Sri Lanka and you do stop at a temple, fish farm ( feet pedicure) and cinnamon island where you can watch a man strip the bark off the tree to make the cinnamon sticks. We left our cash in the room and felt a bit silly asking the boat skipper to take it afterwards for us.

The pool is lovely-tranquil and surrounded by parakeets and woodpeckers. The only other swimmers were the turquoise kingfishers, cheekily dipping in beside us. Seriously, who cares about the towels?!

We had a night walk with one of the hotel staff looking for frogs and fruit bats and, again, were amazed by the variety of the wildlife and by the knowledge and generosity of the local guides.

Food....one or two of the reviewers have been disappointed, but I can't understand why as we ate very well indeed. We love, and thus requested, genuine local Sri Lanken food and were not disappointed-the rice and curry on the first night was lovely as were the hoppers and chicken curry that we had for breakfast after our boat trip. The food was tasty, authentic and there was plenty of it!

The river house it is off the beaten track however after the hustle and built of Galle, Colombo, and Mirissa plus the madness in a tuk tuk you wll love a couple of nights here. Great value, great food great staff,great place...'nough said,

Room Tip: Take some change on the boat trip for tips at some of the stops.
See more room tips
  • Stayed: April 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank stueyde
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hotels you might also like...
Also consider these accommodations in or near Balapitiya
2.1 mi away
Shinagawa Beach by Asia Leisure
1.8 mi away
Calamansi Cove Villas by Jetwing
0.5 mi away
Michelle Boutique Hotel
Michelle Boutique Hotel
#5 of 5 in Balapitiya
122 reviews
Show Prices
Show Prices
Show Prices
3.6 mi away
Heritance Ahungalla
Heritance Ahungalla
#1 of 2 in Ahungalla
3,559 reviews
18.3 mi away
Tamarind Hill by Asia Leisure
13.1 mi away
Aditya
Aditya
#1 of 27 in Hikkaduwa
618 reviews
Show Prices
Show Prices
Show Prices

Been to The River House? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Additional Information about The River House

Address: No. 70 Uthamanyana Mawatha | Welagedara, Balapitiya 80550, Sri Lanka
Phone Number:
Location: Sri Lanka > Southern Province > Balapitiya
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 5 Hotels in Balapitiya
Price Range: $155 - $528 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4.5 star — The River House 4.5*
Number of rooms: 5
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The River House is an artistic escape of sheer seclusion on the banks of the Madhu River. Surrounded by tropical wilderness, this is a place of romance and sensuality. Each of the five luxuriant suites speak an imaginative language of design and are a sanctuary unto themselves. Private gardens that encase your suite and jacuzzi's with an overhead waterfall are more to enjoy. The Menik Suite is ranked as one of CNN Travel's '21 Sexy Skinny Dip' spots around the globe for its private plunge pool for two. You will truly treasure how this place will make you feel. ... more   less 
Reservation Options:
TripAdvisor is proud to partner with Expedia, Travelocity, Booking.com, Hotels.com, Priceline, Agoda, Hotwire and Orbitz so you can book your The River House reservations with confidence. We help millions of travelers each month to find the perfect hotel for both vacation and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
Also Known As:
The River House Hotel Balapitiya
The River Hotel
The River House Sri Lanka/Balapitiya

Is This Your TripAdvisor Listing?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing