Tangalle, Sri Lanka

The Last House

Price per night from$264.61

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (inclusive of taxes and fees) available in the next 60 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (USD264.61), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.


Breezy Bawa beachpad


Serene Seenimodera

It takes just seconds to be seduced by Tangalle boutique hotel The Last House. Designed by legendary Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa, this luxury seaside escape was his ultimate commission, and is a true representation of his work, where airy, antique-filled interiors spill into alfresco spaces as if no boundaries exist at all.

Smith Extra

Get this when you book through us:

A participatory cooking demonstration and food tasting experience


Photos The Last House facilities

Need to know




11am, but flexible subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 2pm, but again, it’s all pretty informal.


Double rooms from £204.85 ($265), including tax at 10 per cent.

More details

Rates include a full English or Sri Lankan breakfast. Full board costs US$45 a person each day; half board is US$30.


The hotel doesn’t have a spa but a visiting masseur can be rustled up for a rub down.

At the hotel

Gardens, free WiFi in public areas, iPod dock. In rooms: local toiletries, air conditioning.

Our favourite rooms

Ground-floor Moonamal comes with its own alfresco tub with overhead shower, and stable doors that open right onto the front and back lawns. Na drinks in views of the jungle-edged lagoon and has a superb peep-hole that gazes through the house, over the garden and out to sea.


Set within a frangipani-fringed courtyard, the pool is surrounded by sunbed-topped lawns with views to the jungle beyond.

Packing tips

A stash of magazines and books for poolside flipping and some oh-so-floaty threads.


Very welcome; over-10s only. When all six rooms are booked together, baby cots can be added to any of the double rooms for free. Extra beds for over-10s cost US$65 a child, including breakfast.


Kids of all ages will love playing on the beach, swimming in the sea, or kicking about on the lawn.

Best for

Only over-10s can stay here.

Recommended rooms

Baby cots and extra beds can be added to any of the double bedrooms. The Main House double shares first-floor space with two twin rooms, plus there are two bathrooms and a furnished wraparound veranda, making these digs the most suitable for a family.


Playing captain in the hotel's boat while cruising around the bay is sure to lure smaller Smiths out to sea. There are surf boards, board games, cricket bats, badminton raquets and balls to keep even the most active kids occupied.

Swimming pool

While the pool isn't particularly deep (it's five-foot deep throughout), it doesn't have a shallow end, so keep your eyes on splashing tots. Armbands and inflatables are available, if desired.


There's no kids' menu, but the chef will try to accommodate junior palates. Child-friendly choices on the main menu include pastas, sandwiches and grilled fish. The hotel has a small guest kitchen where you can heat up milk or baby food, and the staff are happy to organise packed lunches on request.


There may not be a professional babysitter at hand, but staff are happy to keep an eye on older kids (though not infants) for a few hours if given advance notice.

No need to pack

Baby cots, highchairs, buggies and change mats.

Food and Drink

Photos The Last House food and drink

Top Table

Ask the staff to arrange a barbecue and pitch your table beachside for romantic alfresco dining.

Dress Code

Sarongs and shorts – super laid-back beach attire.

Hotel restaurant

Secluded at the side of the house, the dining room has timber tables that spill out onto a pillared veranda and overlook the sea. Chef Ananda is well known in these parts for his superb dishes – standouts from the diverse Asian-fusion menu include crab curry and mullet with dhal sauce.

Hotel bar

Sip wine or local beer by the pool, and enjoy a cocktail or mocktail in the garden or on the beach before dinner.

Last orders

Midday for dinner orders so Ananda can sniff out Tangalle’s freshest market produce and have time to prepare. As long as the kitchen has supplies, simple snacks can be requested up until you head to bed.

Room service

This isn’t a traditional hotel so you won't find a phone in your room, but there’s always a member of staff on duty to serve you snacks and brews until bedtime. As soon as you drift off, so do they.


Photos The Last House location
The Last House
Pubudu Mawatha, Seenimodera, Nakulugamuwa
Sri Lanka

The Last House is sandwiched between the gaping swathe of Mawella’s sandy bay and its wildlife-filled lagoon on the fringe of Seenimodera village, seven kilometres west of Tangalle in Sri Lanka’s Deep South.


Fly into Colombo’s Bandaranaike Airport and hop onto a Sri Lankan Air Taxi to Dickwella, a 20-minute drive from the hotel. These 15-seater otter planes take just 35 minutes and cost around US$280 a person. Call our Smith24 Team on 03300 376 891 to arrange flights and transfers.


The nearest train station is Matara at the end of the south-coast rail line, a 45-minute drive from the hotel. Hop on a train at Colombo’s Fort Station and wind your way merrily down for the price of a few dollars.


There’s no need to self-drive in Sri Lanka as driver-guides can easily be arranged by the hotel.


Charter a chopper through Deccan Aviation Lanka (from around US$2,800) for the quickest transfer trip; it takes less than an hour and lands on a flat headland near Tangalle town, just 15 minutes from the hotel (US$10). From November–March, Deccan’s scheduled service operating between the airport and Tangalle costs a more attractive US$285 a person, though with only four seats up for grabs a day, it’s best to book early.

Worth getting out of bed for

Jog, stroll or photograph fishing boats along the two-kilometre stretch of beach beyond the hotel’s lawn, or venture into the gently rolling sea to surf or body board. Take a peep at the erratic eruptions of the Hoomaniya Blowhole to the east or, if you tire of the beach, wander inland to discover the wooded hamlet of Seenimodera to experience village life before seeking out kingfishers around the jungle-clad lagoon. Further afield, Mulkirigala rock temple is lined with murals, giant Buddha statues and splendid views. By night, visit Rekawa to observe marine turtles laying and hatching eggs on the sands under cover of darkness with the Turtle Conservation Project (+94 (0)77 781 0508; www.tcpsrilanka.com).

Local restaurants

Restaurants in sleepy Tangalle are few and far between. From May–August, wander west along the sandy beach to Il Camino (Suriya Gardens, Nakulugamuwa; +94 (0)47 224 2286), an Italian-managed restaurant that’s convenient for an authentic, albeit rustic, daytime snack; call first as its opening hours can be a tad sketchy. Head to the elegant elevated dining room of Amanwella (Bodhi Mawatha, Wella Wathura, Godellawela; +94 (0)47 224 1333) for modern cuisine served in palm-shaded surroundings. Or, journey inland to watch the sun set and dine on superb curries at Maya (Old House, Temple Road, Aranwella, Beliatta; +94 (0)47 567 9026), a plantation house set in a bird-filled garden with views of  rippling rice fields.

Local bars

The bar at Amanwella (Bodhi Mawatha, Wella Wathura, Godellawela; +94 (0) 47 224 1333) boasts Tangalle’s swankiest selection of booze, plus a stunning sea-view setting to match. There’s also an extensive cigar menu.


Photos The Last House reviews
Harriet Whiting

Anonymous review

By Harriet Whiting, Circumnavigating scribe

If the sight of two dusty backpackers standing at the polished threshold of his tranquil haven surprises house manager Ananda, he certainly doesn’t show it. Without hesitation, he grasps our hands in greeting and pulls our filthy backpacks from our bodies. It has been a long bus ride from Arugam Bay (A-Bay to those in the know) on the east coast of Sri Lanka, where we’ve spent a week surfing the demanding point breaks. Mr Smith’s hair, blond from the sun, stands on end; my nose is slightly swollen from a recent board collision. In short, we are ready for some serious down time.

We are in luck because, as we are ushered past a serene courtyard with a jade-green swimming pool to a loggia open to the sea breeze, I can instantly feel the calming and restorative effects of the Last House. It’s aptly named, as this villa was local architect Geoffrey Bawa’s final project before his death in 2003.

The setting also seems to be having a rejuvenating effect on Mr Smith, an architect and Bawa fan. He declares the design considered: there’s the play of light and ventilation through open-sided rooms, the simplicity of the cool cement flooring and the stylishly pillared, wraparound verandas. He’s intrigued by the unusual rainwater drainage system that eschews guttering for a gravel channel beneath the terracotta-tiled eaves into which water falls directly.

Before he can get too technical, I agree that gutters are awfully ugly. ‘Anyway,’ I say, ‘shouldn’t we see our room?’ Just as I knew they would, these magic words get Mr Smith’s attention.

Upstairs, on the first floor of the main house, our vast boudoir – the Master Suite – does not disappoint. What strikes me immediately is the incredible sense of openness. Doors and windows, painted in distressed copper hues and topped with ornate latticework, are open wide to the environment. Like some sort of interactive art gallery, they seem to double as picture frames to nature’s perfect compositions beyond. Behind us, a sliding door reveals a cinema-size panorama of a close-enough-to-touch frangipani tree.

Mr Smith reveals this was a typical Bawa trademark in his Tropical Modernist movement: to dissolve boundaries between the outside and inside, and to fuse natural elements with the structure of the building. For me it simply means ludicrously pretty views. The large antique four-poster bed, elegantly placed in the centre of the vast room, is the perfect place to enjoy this concept.

The bathroom is equally expansive, with more sigh-inducing scenes: a tricolour of sky, sand and sea to the front and an exotic Gauguin-esque tropical tableau to the rear. The claw-foot tub, freestanding in the middle of the space, is clearly another ideal venue from where to test Bawa’s theories. Mr Smith reaches out for a handful of frangipani flowers to sprinkle in our bath.

Back on the ground floor, we discover more ‘artwork’ framed by arches and doorways, along with plenty of conveniently placed day-beds and antique loungers. Clearly a lot of thought has gone into the planning of this house, yet the overall impression is of effortlessness. The muted ochre walls punctuated with faded green shutters, deep verandas and weathered wooden furniture give it an understated elegance. Even our natural surroundings – bendy coconut trees and bushy plants in oversized pots – have just the right amount of cultivated charm.

It’s exactly how you would build your own tropical holiday home, Mr Smith muses, as he holds open a peeling green gate, our private entrance to the beach. It does feel like our own place – with only six rooms, other guests are few. In fact, for the moment at least, we are alone. We wander along the rugged but beautiful beach, with its soft, pale sand, towards a rocky headland. Banked behind are thickets of pandan trees. Gentle, surf-crested waves, just the right size for a frolic and the perfect antidote to A-Bay’s monster swells, roll in one after another.

By dinner, our environment is beginning to rub off and we have restored ourselves to a respectable couple, not that there is anyone else around to care. In fact, Mr Smith remarks how lovely it is to have my full attention. Much to his embarrassment, I’m a renowned rubbernecker, especially when it comes to other people’s food. The evening’s menu has been created for us after a casual conversation at lunchtime. My recurring fantasy is to have my own staff and this is a rare glimpse into what that might be like. Mr Smith loves gossiping with Ananda about what Geoffrey Bawa was really like, and is reassured to hear he was a perfectionist to the end.

Over grilled prawns and, later, home-made banana ice-cream, we decide this would be a fabulous place to hire out exclusively for a big get-together. Our friends would adore the relaxed, luxurious style and alfresco dinners by flickering candlelight, our late-night chatter mingling with the crashing of the waves. Passing off Ananda’s cooking as my own might be a stretch, but his culinary skills could guarantee us the most decadent of feasts. We let the thought linger then, like the whoosh of a wave onto the shore and back, the idea gently retreats in the darkness. Above us, stars twinkle in the inky sky, and as Mr Smith takes my hand, I know that the best way to experience the Last House is exactly how it is right now – just the two of us.

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Price per night from $264.61