best luxury boutique hotels in Sri Lanka

Dinner at Amanwella, Tangalle, Sri Lanka

Words: Kirsten Durward    Photos: The Yum List

Aman group hosts a range of exclusive upmarket boutique style resorts across Asia. The concept is strongly simplicity: simplicity of design, simplicity of experience, and simplicity of cuisine.  Here in the breezy location of Amanwella Beach at Tangalle in the deep south of Sri Lanka, guests can relax in the spacious and light environs, slow the pace of life, and enjoy reconnecting with nature. As we sit on the elevated terrace above the deep blue infinity pool, the Indian Ocean whispers through the shady coconut trees and the light breeze soothes any residual worries away. The soft sound of the sea lapping below as the sun goes down creates an immeasurably mellow evening atmosphere.

Amanwella, Tangalle, Sri Lanka
Amanwella Restaurant
Amanwella, Tangalle, Sri Lanka
Amanwella Lounge

Although the resort is highly secluded for resident guests, it is possible to book a table for lunch or dinner at Amanwella’s two F&B outlets: The Beach Club where grilled food is served up under the sky; or The Restaurant, which offers a range of Sri Lankan curries and simply cooked European dishes. We are hosted by genial Portuguese GM Fillipe, and begin with a taste of aromatic iced tea in the spacious bar lounge as we chit chat over travel experiences and common acquaintances. As the sun starts to sink behind the lofty palms, we relax in the soft light that drifts through the floor to ceiling windows and revel in the sense of space and simple comfort that the soft sandy tones and clean wood lines deliver, reflecting the outdoors indoors.

Amanwella, Tangalle, Sri Lanka
Sri Lankan Iced Tea

Monica and I are well known for loving a cocktail, particularly if it is on the strong and sour side. We are delighted to see that the Amanwella cocktail list does not contain a great deal of recipes involving sugar syrup or other sticky sweeteners. As the light begins to fade, we sip on a sharp tasting Arrack Sour (Rs1500) one of the Amanwella signature cocktails. It’s crisp and refreshing, a perfect sundowner. Our only desire is for the glasses to be bigger.

On a spice island why not take advantage of what nature has to offer? The Spice of Life (Rs1400) is just perfect. I hold it in my hand, smell it, breathe it all in, and revel in the blend of scents that promise a delightfully fragrant sipping experience. With fresh ginger, cardamom local lime and a hint of lemongrass this clean concoction delivers with panache. Mmmmm! This could become a favourite yum!

Amanwella, Tangalle, Sri Lanka
Arrack Cocktails

Amanwella offers quite a few wine choices by the glass including some nice sparkling selections, but as some friends have arrived we begin with a bottle of Pinot Grigio Elfo Sacchetto from Italy (Rs6000). It’s crisp and light with slightly greenish overtones that complement the delicate spicing of the curry dishes to come.

Amanwella, Tangalle, Sri Lanka

Drinks have been delightful, company has been sparkling, the views and sounds of the ocean relax the spirit, but now it is time to taste dinner. I do love Beef Carpaccio (Rs 3200), and I’ve been so spoiled by it that many Asian versions leave me cold. It is a simple dish that can be done well or totally messed up. I always say, please don’t mess with the simplicity. And here at Amanwella, chef is of the same persuasion. Thin slices of raw beef are topped by slivers of Parmesan, plenty of rocket and a good drizzle of olive oil. There’s nothing startling here, but it’s all of good quality and clean natural taste.

Amanwella, Tangalle, Sri Lanka
Beef Carpaccio

Roasted Tomato Soup (Rs 1400) is an instant hit with both of us. No messing around with creamy tastes but rather a crispy basil pesto and fried garlic prettily tops this fresh flavourful bowlful. Digging into the deep dish reveals freshness of flavour, and good texture and taste boosts from the basil and garlic on each spoonful.

Amanwella, Tangalle, Sri Lanka
Tomato Soup

A fat juicy prawn sits atop our Seafood Risotto (Rs 3500) with plenty of other nuggets inside the tomato-y rice. I prefer the Parmesan to be laced through the rice making it nice and sticky but this one is layered on top. It is a filling and plentiful dish.   

Amanwella, Tangalle, Sri Lanka
Seafood Risotto

Monica and I both love crunchy fresh veggies so are happy to see plenty of these accompanying our Pan Fried Chicken Breast, (Rs3500). I love the hints of spinach particularly on the crisp carrots. Pumpkin puree is lightly spiced and slightly sweet, a welcome softness to accompany the dense chicken breast.

Amanwella, Tangalle, Sri Lanka
Pan Fried Chicken Breast

One of the features of Sri Lanka as we are learning, is that every establishment wants to serve up their interpretation of the traditional rice and curry. At Amanwella this usually comes impressively served on a tray with a full portion of each dish, but as we have a lot to consume, chef kindly sets us up a tasting dish. Rice and Curry with Condiments (Rs 5000) at Amanwella offers the gamut of curry tastes, spices and ingredients. Happily, guests can request the style of spicing that they prefer; Monica prefers the light side where as I go for hot, so we end up with a lovely mix. Curries range from sweet and sour to spicy hot and mild. We’re spoiled with a soft dahl, a zingy tomato onion sambal, a spicy wingbean, sweet pineapple curry (a first for me, though I use pineapple in curry, have never come across one that is solely pineapple). The highlight however is the mild creamy prawn curry, with plentiful plump prawns, banana flower and the brinjal pahi, though my chutney loving tongue has to give a mention to the mango chutney and lime pickle as well. I promise you, if you have been eating curry without pickle, change your habits as it raises the experience tremendously.

Amanwella, Tangalle, Sri Lanka
Rice and Curry with Condiments

Like the curry experience, each property we’ve visited on this trip has their own interpretation of the traditional Sri Lanka dessert watalappan, that we are pressed to try. Soon I will become a watalappan expert! This one is less sweet, with strong cardamom hints and a thick creamy texture.

Amanwella, Tangalle, Sri Lanka
Watalappan – Traditional Sri Lankan Dessert

Passionfruit cheesecake has a very moussey and light texture, easy to eat with a good crunch and zing of the fresh passionfruit on top.

Amanwella, Tangalle, Sri Lanka
Passionfruit Cheesecake

The gentle rhythm of the sea below is echoed in the relaxed pace of the Amanwella experience. Be sure to stop by and enjoy the splendid views and cool sea breeze, which whisks the sultry air and causes the palm tree fronds to sway delightfully.  Cocktails on the elevated terrace are a must do, these are the best we’ve tasted in Sri Lanka so far.

Reasons to visit: spectacular ocean views; clean light cocktails with strong fresh flavours; freshly prepared simple dishes; Sri Lankan curry tray.

Boddhi Mawatha
Wella Wathuara
Godellawela, Tangalle
Sri Lanka
+94 47 224 1222
[email protected]

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  1. Hi Kirsten
    Where is Monica??? Somewhere in that “Infinity pool”??
    Anyhow what is this new fangled term – “INFINITY” pool suppose to be?
    The introduction photo of the reef is breathtakingly beautiful overlooking the
    Indian Ocean.
    As I always look at this blog early in the morning to see Passionfruit Cheese cake
    desserts in not the best sight for me to see and almost attack the photo! I reckon
    my intake of such delights would result in a double first class seat to get me
    back to Australia – my girth would increase considerably – ha ha.
    I think it increases just “lusting” over the looking at it, never mind the
    No Andalusian steed would be able to carry me and damn El Caning (Jr.) would
    be off and racing across the Pampas before my steed got over the weight shock.
    What pray tell in detail is Watalappan dessert – it looks very, very tempting??

    And where is Miss Katrina de Lazlo?
    Great report on this resort.
    El Colin Cordobes who is starting to look like a passionfruit minus the snakes
    that like slithering around in the vines!

    • Ooops. Apologies to Katrina – my spelling de Laszlo.
      There were Haszler and Laszlo boys at my boarding college.
      All had Hungarian backgrounds.
      El Colin Cordobes who has Austrian/German heritage – 1/4.

    • Ha ha… this body doesn’t do too much prancing in bikinis these days, so you’re much more likely to find me with a cocktail beside the pool than in the thing itself. Yes, “infinity” is the trendsetting thing to have these days – it means the water comes right up to the edge and drops over – seemingly into infinity I guess – no edge…
      Now now… don’t get carried away with thoughts of too much cheesecake otherwise those glowing health results might take a plunge for the worse. 😉

  2. I’d go for the more local rice and curry with condiments and I sure would love to try their dessert.

    • It’s a rather interesting dessert – almost like a cross between a flan and a creme brulee…

  3. The ambiance is so soothing and lovely and the presentations are beautiful and creative!

  4. that rice platter definitely has my name on it! 🙂

  5. Their rice and curry is pretty much like our nasi lemask!
    Did you know that nasi lemak was voted to be one of the healthiest breakfasts in the world just a few weeks ago?!
    Ha ha… So hard to digest!

    • Mmm… I’m still not convinced on the “healthy” wins of the local fav. I wonder who exactly was doing the judging? 😉

  6. Oh my goodness, what delightful meals – would love to have eaten them.

  7. Beautiful palm view from the restaurant. Looks like our local banana leaf rice. I would love to try the Passion fruit cheesecake.

  8. Hello, what a lovely place for a getaway and dinner. The food and cocktails look wonderful. I would like to try the seafood risotto. Happy Sunday, enjoy your new week ahead!

  9. Beautiful – both the food and the views!

  10. Beautiful ocean views and I would not mind to taste their gorgeous desserts…;-)

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