Wadduwa, Sri Lanka

Reef Villa & Spa

Rates from (inc tax)$407.93

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 21 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (21USD), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.


Swish Ceylon suites


Palms and pachyderms

Brit-owned, Dutch-styled and tropically tranquil, boutique hotel Reef Villa & Spa sits pretty on a stretch of Sri Lankan’s golden southern coast. Its turquoise pool, bijou spas and attentive service are the main attractions; make yourself at home amid the carefully trimmed lawns, colourful koi ponds and antique-filled suites.

Smith Extra

Get this when you book through us:

US$15 to spend in the Reefined giftshop. BlackSmiths receive a Reef umbrella; SilverSmiths receive a house cocktail each; GoldSmiths receive a luxury spa gift



Need to know


Seven suites.


11am. Earliest check-in, 2pm. Early arrivals have free use of the spa, pool and spa shower while they wait. No check-ins or check-outs are allowed on 25 December, 31 December and 1 January.


Double rooms from $407.93, excluding tax at 28.7 per cent.

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 21 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (USD525.01), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.

More details

Rates include a full English breakfast with fresh fruit, juices and hot drinks. Prefer a proper Sri Lankan breakfast of noodly string hoppers and curries? Just request it the night before. Guests are given iced tea on arrival and a 10-minute head massage.


The hotel’s impressive lily pond curves around the villas and gardens, home to a kaleidoscope of fish friendly enough to be petted (the matriarch of the shoal may even respond when called by name). Resist the urge to feed them stray breakfast crumbs: they need to work up an appetite for their regular – and spectacular – feeding sessions.

At the hotel

Spa, yoga pavilion, gift shop, motor boat, tennis, ping-pong, board games, croquet lawn, volleyball court, fishing rods, library of books and films, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: minibar, free bottled water, tea and coffee, Kama Ayurveda toiletries.

Our favourite rooms

Sleep like a maharajah in vast 1840s canopied beds: Reef Villa’s rooms have that laid-back, languid colonial style down pat, with prettily tiled floors, reclaimed ceilings fans and lashing of dark, tactile wood. Bathrooms are enormous, with hand-carved granite bath tubs big enough for two and cinnamon-scented toiletries; we fell for Ocean Suite Sapumal’s totally private open-air shower and the Lily Pond Suite’s sunken spa bath, tucked away in a lush planted courtyard. Ocean Suite Namal’s swinging day-bed is made for idle lounging; from its private veranda, stepping stones lead across the pond to the lawn, pool and golden beach beyond.


Fringed by gently swaying palm-trees, the infinity pool glimmers invitingly on the hotel’s manicured lawns. Stretch out on sunloungers beneath paisley-printed parasols or stroll straight through the garden gates to the golden beach beyond, a picturesque stomping ground for the friendly (and quite tame) local elephant. It’s safe to swim here from November to April and there’s always a lifeguard to keep an eye on hesitant swimmers.


Hide away in the Reefresh Spa’s enclosed courtyard, which has its own waterfall and couple’s treatment room, to work your way through the menu of exotic treatments: slathered in detoxifying clay and softening turmeric and honey ointments, you’ll be wrapped up in a cocoon of banana leaves and treated to seaweed or coffee-scrub facials. Sheltered beneath a thatched roof In the garden, the Ayurveda Spa has a steam room and traditional wooden massage bed; indulge in a sweet-scented massage or shirodara – a gentle, soothing pouring of warm liquid onto the forehead – to the sound of lapping waves.

Packing tips

Leave your adaptors at home: you’ll find international plugs discretely hidden away in the antique furniture.


The hotel’s rooms and public areas are non-smoking; you’ll need to stray away from the pool to light up. The Lily Pond Suite is equipped with grab rails; ramps for wheelchair users can be arranged for most suites, except Manel and Nelum.


Very welcome. Handcrafted mahogany cots for under-2s (US$65 a night) and extra beds for under-12s (US$90) can be added to rooms. The Captain’s menu offers child-friendly fare such as banana shakes, green smoothies, veggie burgers and chicken pancakes.


The hotel’s green credentials are second to none, with a holistic eco-friendly programme that rewards staff for inventive contributions. Measures run the gamut from water preservation to home-grown spa products; guppy fish in the ponds replace pesticides and drinkable water springs straight from the hotel’s own well. Locavores rejoice: special care is taken with the provenance of the food, making the most of Sri Lanka’s bountiful larder.

Food and Drink


Top Table

Nab a table by the pool for a laid-back lunch; if you’ve always dreamed of dining with your toes in the sand under star-studded skies, staff can organise a private beach barbecue.

Dress Code

Light linens and pretty paisleys.

Hotel restaurant

A stone’s throw from the beach and overlooking the pool, Ocean Whisper is all dark timber and thatched roofs, an indoor-outdoor space true to its evocative name. Chef Piya Siri flirts with fusion; expect handmade tagliatelle, Lyonnaise potatoes and guacamole alongside the stars of the show: fresh Sri Lankan crab, lobster, squid and mullet, lightly fragranced with cumin and coconut.

Hotel bar

With 35 heady cocktails on the menu, Ocean Whisper takes poolside drinks very seriously indeed. Start with a classic iced tea and work your way through concoctions laced with hibiscus, passion fruit, cardamom and fresh lime.

Last orders

Breakfast is served 8am–10am, lunch 12 noon–2.30pm and dinner 7pm–10.30pm.

Room service

A full menu is available during the restaurant’s opening hours; guests staying in Ocean Suites and the Lily Pond Suite can have dinner served on their veranda.


Reef Villa & Spa
78 Samanthara Rd, Wadduwa KT 15960
Sri Lanka


International flights from Europe, Asia and the Middle-East land at Bandaranaike International Airport (www.airport.lk), an hour and a half away on the main Colombo–Galle road.


Wadduwa station, a five-minute drive from the hotel, is serviced by Sri Lanka Railways' (www.railway.gov.lk) trains from Galle and Colombo Fort, where you’ll find a special ticket window for tourists. Second-class tickets are cheap and make for a scenic hour’s journey along the coastal route; for air-conditioned comfort, hop on the luxurious leather-upholstered Rajadhani Express (www.rajadhani.lk), which runs twice a day (about US$7 for a one-way ticket).


The hotel is an hour’s leisurely drive south from Colombo. It’s best to hire a car with a driver if you’re keen to roam the chaotic roads in Sri Lanka, although there’s no overnight parking at the hotel.

Worth getting out of bed for

Shaded by palm-trees and frequented by playful elephants, the resort’s 65-metre stretch of golden sands is beguiling. The waters there are safe and bathwater-warm from November to April, but there’s plenty to do in the off season too: exert yourself with a game of beach volleyball or tennis, or a spot of gentle croquet on the lawn in between sunbathing sessions. Yoga classes are held in a pavilion in the gardens and the hotel has fishing rods to borrow; charter the resort’s motorboat for croc-spotting on nearby Bolgoda Lake.

The hotel’s concierge can arrange transport and pack you a picnic for off-site adventuring. Brief Garden near Bentota is a riot of rambling greenery straight out of The Jungle Book; look out for the impressive slither of monitor lizards in Bentota River. A 15-minute drive away, discover vivid historic reliefs and grand stupas at Mahavihara Bhuddist temple and Kalutara temple, and Richmond Castle’s Maharajah-style splendour. Influential Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa had his country home in Lunuganga, 35-minute drive south in Galle; stroll through the luxuriant estate for a peek at the gardens that inspired him. Befriend a barrel of cheeky monkeys at Dehiwala Zoo (+94 (0)11 271 2752) a half-hour drive north or watch teeny turtles take their first bumbling steps at the Kosgoda Hatchery in Mahapalena.

Staying for a while? Take a day to see colonial Galle Fort (+94 (0)91 223 2568) – a Unesco World Heritage site – or take an hour’s drive to explore the bazaars, mosques and museums in capital Colombo. Further afield, the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy houses the Buddha’s left canine; if you have a taste for all that glitters, Rathnapura’s sapphire pits and Ambalangoda’s moonstone mines make intriguing visits.

Local restaurants

It takes a determined foodie to stray beyond Reef Villa's fabulously fresh seafood and colourful dishes: visiting local eateries can be a bit of a schlep. A five-minute tuk-tuk ride away, or a 25-minute walk along the beach, Jani Seafood Restaurant (+94 (0)77 764 3655) serves fat rouged lobsters, luscious langoustines and delectably dressed crab, all washed down with local beer to a toe-tapping Sixties and Seventies soundtrack. Lavila (+94 (0)38 428 4365) is an unpretentious beach-set restaurant with great views and a hearty buffet – and it's a mere five-minute stroll from the hotel.



Anonymous review

Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this seaside hotel in Wadduwa and unpacked their batiks and spice mixes, a full account of their relaxing luxury break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Reef Villa & Spa in Sri Lanka…

It’s no surprise almost half of Reef Villa & Spa’s guests are repeat visitors: owners Brendan and Bernadette – the architect behind this beachside vision in carved wood, burnished tiles and carved granite – certainly know how to lay on a warm welcome. There are just seven suites dotted around the main building and the sprawling gardens, each elegantly decked out with vast four-poster beds, smooth marble bath tubs and charming individual details such as antique Indian swings, open-air showers and traditional punkah fans. Lush curtains of tropical plants, a sunlounger-flanked pool and a tropics-scented spa are an invitation to relax; on the long, sleepy stretch of golden sands, you’ll find warm waters, windsurfing spots and the odd inquisitive elephant. Fresh off the fishing boats, the day’s catch is rustled up in the kitchen with creamy coconut, fragrant local spices and plenty of lime juice; set off down the beach or hop on a tuk tuk for a taste of the island’s local eateries. Beyond the hotel’s imposing gates, Sri Lankan’s colourful temples, colonial-era estates and wildlife sanctuaries await – the perfect excuse to linger at Reef Villa & Spa just one more postcard-perfect day.

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