Need to know
Twenty, including one suite.
11am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 2pm.
Double rooms from $141.75, excluding tax at 29.08 per cent.
Rates usually include breakfast (Continental and hot options) and WiFi.
Volunteer to help out with the rice harvest if you're here in March, when the rice is in season. You'll learn about traditional harvesting techniques and will wield a sickle alongside fellow rice-pickers (if you'd rather help eat it, the restaurant puts its crop on the menu).
At the hotel
58-acre grounds, stables, day spa, basement wine cellar, library, stash of CDs and DVDs. In rooms: TV, DVD player, iPod dock, minibar.
Our favourite rooms
Villa 21 is the most private and romantic of the sleeping quarters, set furthest from the main building, overlooking a little lake (a hammock for two swings temptingly by the water).
All rooms come with a private plunge pool, except for One and Two, which have an in-room Jacuzzi instead. There’s also a large, family-friendly communal pool, whose pretty azure and opalescent tiles are a vivid contrast to the hotel’s lush green foliage and red-tiled roofs. A lifeguard keeps watch over the pool between 6am and 11pm daily (timings may vary).
Two rooms built within a mud-brick-walled natural depression – in view of a pond with a water feature, reeds and glimmering fish – make up Ulagalla’s serene open-air spa. Opt for the Royal Body Ritual, which kicks off with a traditional herbal foot bath, foot scrub and forehead massage, and leads on to an exfoliating back scrub and full body massage.
Binoculars to spy on the elephants, monkeys and peacocks.
Each villa has his 'n' hers bicycles so you can wheel around the verdant 58 acres.
Little Smiths are very welcome: extra beds cost US$15 a night, cots are free, babysitting can be arranged (US$15 an hour) and the hotel has plenty of activities and extras for junior adventurers, including horse riding (US$25 for half an hour).
Little ones old enough to toddle around and hop on horseback.
Opt for the two-bedroom Nikawewa Villa for lashings of space.
Kids will love trying archery or going horse riding in the grounds (both are chargeable activities). They can splash happily around the lifeguard-supervised pool and go for rambles in the gardens, looking for monkeys, peacocks and even elephants.
A lifeguard keeps watch over the pool between 6am and 11pm daily (timings may vary).
Highchairs are available and the restaurant has a children’s menu.
Babysitting costs US$15 an hour.
No need to pack
There are kid-friendly board games in each villa.
Kids will love spotting the resident giant squirrels and colourful chameleons.
The hotel has a LEED certificate and an onsite solar farm that generates half of its energy.