Under an hour from the centre of Colombo and a 15-minute drive from Sri Lanka’s only international airport, its location is possibly its best feature. Though The Wallawwa is nothing less than a fine, relaxing hotel, it’s at its best when you’re entering or leaving the country - providing a gentle introduction or a comfortable farewell.

It’s a 200-year old colonial manor house that’s been restored and transformed into a charming eco-friendly hotel. There are 17 rooms and suites, the grandest being The Mountbatten. Named after Lord Mountbatten the Commander-in-Chief of the South-East Asian Royal Air Force, 1939-1945, the palatial suite features a butler, its own private pool, garden and terrace.

Dinner service on the veranda is popular though service speed varies.

We revisited in 2017 and appreciated its location close to the airport after 15 hours air travel. It’s off quite a busy road, up a lane. First impressions were of large, lush tropical grounds, possibly a little overgrown and shady, especially the swimming area.  But it comes into its own at dusk with magical flickering ground-level lights everywhere.

Bedrooms are large and airy, public spaces likewise. Service was calm and friendly. The restaurant menu offers safe choices in large portions, but full of flavour. Before dinner, be sure to order as a nibble their cashew nuts roasted with garlic leaves: if you liked cashews before, you’ll never want to eat them again except like this.

The spa has an especially calm and beautiful access area.