The Frangipani Tree hotel ~ Luxurious serenity at the beach, near Fort Galle, Sri Lanka

At the most Southern tip of Sri Lanka, the waves of the aquamarine Indian Ocean crash onto the soft ochre-colored sand.

From the moment we arrive at The Frangipani Tree hotel near Unawatuna beach, we feel transported from the busy streets full of tuk tuks, traffic and activity, to an oasis of serenity. The intense blues and greens of nature are immediately calming ~ lush palm trees sweep into the cloudy sky and hang gently over the beach.

Upon arrival, we are greeted with fresh fruit juice and an immediate feeling of calm. Ahhhh…!
There are frangipani trees with their asymmetric white petalled flowers and bright yellow centers, all around.
The fragrance of the blossoms fills the air.
The first view, upon arrival, gives a hint as to the understated elegance which permeates this unique boutique hotel.

The Frangipani Tree hotel was designed by Channa Daswatte, a local architect, protege of the famous Sri Lankan architect, Geoffrey Bawa. It is a beautiful rendering of Modernist Tropical architecture.  It reflects a simplicity of design which is timeless and aesthetically pleasing… Clean lines. White washed walls. Polished, smooth concrete floors.  Wooden doors and shutters.  The overall feel is of a spacious, yet cosy, villa by the sea.  It has a comfy feeling of being “at home” ~ a rather luxurious home, that is.

Our corner second floor bedroom is a large square room, which is stunning and airy, with continuous windows on all three sides. Wooden shutters give the flexibility to block the early morning light, while the sea breeze and sounds of the ocean gently drift through the open windows.  A built-in ledge goes all the way around the room, allowing one to sit and gaze out the windows over the red tile roof top towards the pool or toward the ocean, just steps away.

Generous space, luxury and elegance all combine to create a stunning bedroom with ocean vistas.
Oh what a view! We are content to sit and watch the waves and colors slowly change as day turns to dusk.

As beautiful as the bedroom is, it is the spectacular bathroom which cannot be ignored.  It is impossible for us to opt to take a stroll down the beach without first soaking in the cream colored, extra long bathtub.

How often does one get a chance to take the time to lie in a tub, gazing at the waves and watching the clouds slowly drift by?


One of a kind bathroom. Natural materials and tons of space combined with a spectacular view gets our vote for “best bathroom ever.”

Once we are ready to emerge from our luxurious cocoon, we walk through the tastefully appointed reading room, which opens onto the patio and pool.  The reading room is an inviting, open space with piles of books and magazines that encourage quiet reading and relaxation.

We are happy to discover the “Birds of Sri Lanka” book, which is a wink at our upcoming bird-watching adventures at the nearby Bandula bird sanctuary.

Great place to read and relax.
Sri Lanka is blessed with both a large endemic bird population as well as migratory flocks.
An Indian Roller bird.

The inviting pool forms the central boulevard from the entrance of the hotel to the beach.  It is an unusually long pool, but because it is narrow, it does not dominate the landscape.   The sea here is quite rough ~ the pool provides a good contrast of a calm body of water for swimming.

View over the red clay roof tiles towards the pool from our bedroom.

The Frangipani Tree Hotel offers a culinary treat of  fresh local produce, creating Mediterranean and Sri Lankan dishes. A  scrumptious vegetable couscous, beetroot gazpacho, leek fritters and a grilled local mahi-mahi were a few of the dishes we enjoyed, at a secluded table by the pool.  The breakfasts were superlative, featuring the unique local buffalo curd, which is eaten with treacle and fruit and is quite simply delicious.

Buffalo curd ~ similar to yogurt, yet thicker, creamier and with a stronger natural and deliciously gamey flavor.

We  spend our two days alternating between lounging in the pool, walking on the beach and soaking in the bathtub.  We have zero activities planned!  It’s full time relaxation ~ an opportunity for stillness.

The logistics of being “on the road” can be tiring. It’s fabulous to stop and “be still” and “be here”.  A Buddhist perspective on life that “within you, there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time” ~ these serene surroundings make this internal stillness all the more accessible.

Before returning to  Fort Galle (the UNESCO world heritage city nearby), we stop at an Ayurvedic herb garden, minutes away from the hotel.

Ayurverdic medicine is an ancient practice, several thousand years old, introduced to Sri Lanka from India. Ayurvedic medicine is all about natural herbs, diet and lifestyle. It is very much worth a stop at the herbal garden as the Ayurvedic students take great pleasure in sharing remedies associated with native plants ~ over 350 species of plants in the garden.

Leaves from the curry plant are used for digestive ailments.
An Ayurverdic student explains the properties of the green pepper plant in the extensive herb garden.
Clove is used as a natural paste for toothpaste and healing of gums. 

On the short tuk tuk ride to Galle, one can see the local fishermen, in Unawatuna beach, pulling in the heavy wooden boats and weighing and selling their daily haul of fish.

The boats are wooden and extremely heavy and it takes a crowd of men to haul them in with the day’s catch.
Heavy fishing rope lies in piles near the boats  (coconut-based rope has been a specialty export from Sri Lanka for centuries).
A large old scale hangs over the fish ready to be weighed.

Two days of luxurious relaxation at the tip of the Sri Lankan pearl-shaped island, make for a perfect respite before continuing on our journey.

For more information on The Frangipani Tree, visit

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