The clue’s in the name: Water Garden Sigiriya is a liquid-lovely watery wonderland that puts the ancient rock fortress of Sigiriya centre stage. Landscaped grounds with a multitude of ponds and streams take inspiration from Sigiriya’s 2,000-year-old water gardens; you can eye up the famous fortress as you explore them. After hot and humid days scaling world-famous rocks, nipping to cave temples and going elephant-seeking in national parks, you’ll appreciate the spacious, air-conditioned sleeping quarters, each of which occupies its own building (some have a private pool). A tranquil spa, relaxed restaurant and two-floor bar are your additional cues to come here.
Get this when you book through us:
A 15-minute head-and-neck massage each, once per stay
Noon; earliest check-in, 2pm. Both are flexible, subject to availability.
Double rooms from £232.64 ($320), including tax at 10 per cent.
Rates usually include Continental breakfast.
At the hotel
Impressive grounds, fitness centre, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: TV, WiFi, air conditioning,minibar, free bottled water, tea and coffee kit, black-out blinds.
Our favourite rooms
They’re all inviting, but the Superior Deluxe Villa with a Plunge Pool is particularly honeymoon-worthy. Request a villa close to the pool and communal areas if you want to be near the thick of things – or one further away, for maximum privacy. It’s an eye-pleasing stroll to the restaurant…
The pool is a tempting slice of dazzling aqua among all the greenery, at the heart of the grounds. Stake out the cushioned wicker sunloungers and prepare to unwind.
There’s an indulgent spa, housed in a quiet building near the bar. Be soothed with a Balinese or four-hands massage, have an Indian head rub, a body scrub or be wrapped in pampering unguents: aromatic mud and honey, perhaps.
Bring multiple changes of swimwear, keen eyes for birdlife and comfy shoes for trekking and temple tours.
Common areas are wheelchair accessible; the hotel has one dedicated disabled-access villa, and all are at ground level.
Little Smiths aged two and above are most welcome. Babysitting can be arranged (US$35 an hour).
Budding explorers and junior swimming champs will love this relaxed getaway in Sri Lanka's Cultural Triangle.
Older children who can appreciate the wildlife and pool.
They’re all spacious and suited to families, but the spacious Duplex Villas have all the room you and your brood could need.
There’s a fleet of bikes – and a stash of helmets – for older ones to wheel around on.
The pool isn’t supervised, so keep a watchful eye on waterbabies.
Little Smiths are welcome in the restaurant, which has a menu tailored to tots. Obliging staff will happily heat up milk or baby food.
This can be arranged with 12 hours’ notice, for US$35 an hour.
No need to pack
The hotel can provide full-size cots or wooden cots and baby bedlinen.
Dine outside and eye up the pools and rice paddies while you eat. Private tables can be set up poolside; if it’s raining, there are alfresco tables under cover.
Channel your inner water nymph/sprite and dress accordingly. If in doubt, model liquid-lustrous silks in peacock hues, plus optional pearls or shells.
Sample Sri Lankan and Western cuisine in the relaxed restaurant, which has an air-conditioned dining room with white-linen-topped tables and a striking chandelier, plus plenty of view-tiful outside seating.
During the daytime, enjoy cocktails and cold beers in the bar’s minimalist ground-floor space; at night, scale the stairs to the first-floor terrace and enjoy drinks and nibbles with winsome views.
The restaurant is open from 6am until 10.30pm.
Order from the full menu during the restaurant’s opening hours.
You’ll find Water Garden Sigiriya in the heart of Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle, in the Central Province, surrounded by lush countryside and backdropped by the eponymous rock fortress.
Colombo’s Bandaranaike International Airport is a four-hour drive away. If you’re already in Sri Lanka, you could catch a short domestic flight to the closer Hingurakgoda airport, an hour’s drive from the hotel.
Intrepid travellers could catch a train to Habarana station, which is 10 kilometres away; services are operated by the Sri Lanka Railway Department.
It’s definitely worth having a car – or hiring a driver – if you want to explore the island. Drop bags off at the hotel first, as the car park is about a kilometre away (the hotel has free valet parking).
Worth getting out of bed for
Cultural thrills, wildlife galore and natural highs abound here. Before heading out, spend some slow time at the hotel, enjoying the pool and trying out the spa. Explore the grounds on foot, by bike or in a buggy, admiring the rice paddies and feathered fellow residents. There’s a wealth of world-class heritage spots within easy reach: the Dambulla Cave Complex, for example, where a jaw-dropping array of ancient Buddha statues and cave artworks await – or the sacred city of Anuradhapura, one of Sri Lanka’s ancient capitals, whose well-preserved ruins caught Unesco’s eye. Set off on a safari in Minneriya National Park, keeping your eyes peeled for elephants and co, or go on a Jeep safari in Kaudulla National Park. And you absolutely cannot come home without scaling Sigiriya Rock – it’s on your doorstep, after all.
In reality, after long days exploring, you’ll just want to settle in at the hotel restaurant and unwind – and there aren’t many local options within walking distance. That said, if you do feel like venturing out, nip to the nearby Jetwing Vil Uyanahotel and have a meal at Apsara, its elegant, lake-spying restaurant, which aces local and global flavours.
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 rural hotel in Sri Lanka and unpacked their safari gear and tea, a full account of their island break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Water Garden Sigiriya in Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle…
Water Garden Sigiriya can hold its head high when it comes to local landmarks: check in here, and you’ll have eye-widening views of what Sri Lankans call the Eighth Wonder of the World. The Sigiriya rock fortress is elevated 200 metres above the surrounding jungle: the dramatic rock plateau, formed from magma of an extinct volcano, is home to the ruins of an ancient palace, built by King Kasyapa in the second half of the 5th century (he had rather an amorous time up there, if the racy frescoes of his various wives and concubines are to be believed).
If the good king inspires you to enjoy your own regal romance, Water Garden Sigiriya is a pretty great place for it: the adds lush, landscaped grounds – inspired by Kasyapa’s extensive water gardens, designed to be fully enjoyed by his 500 bathing belles – and stylish sleeping quarters add to the ambience. But bedroom adventures, or just exploring the awe-inspiring Cultural Triangle, are thirsty, hungry work, so it’s handy there’s a relaxed restaurant and bar (both boasting Sigiriya views, natch), plus a peaceful spa, whose lures include Balinese massages, Ayurvedic rubs and scrubs and aromatic wraps. Channel your inner ancient monarch and have a royally good time here, Sri Lankan-style.