3 Bawa hotels you must stay at during your tour of Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is known for its well-preserved UNESCO world heritage sites, smiling people, undisputed hospitality and unique cuisine. And for those with special interests – such as wildlife, art, photography, architecture, food – when you travel in Sri Lanka you can also delve deeper into the country and focus on those special interests for a more individual and connected travel experience and understanding of the country.
For travellers with a keen interest in design and architecture, Sri Lanka has a strong and unique history of architecture and design thanks to the works and influence of its globally renowned architect Geoffrey Bawa. Across the country you can see the legacy of Sri Lankan architect Bawa and discover a Sri Lanka design style which incorporates textiles in modern hues, colonial influences and the lush tropical surroundings of the country.
Bawa’s influence on Sri Lanka, and Asia, is undisputed, and evidence of his works remain in hotels, buildings and cafes across the country. Many people like to visit or see some of the works of Geoffrey Bawa in places like Colombo when travelling in Sri Lanka and we strongly encourage them to do so. Our newest itinerary for a private tour of Sri Lanka has a strong focus on the works of Bawa – including tours of some of his works, meals at cafes designed by Bawa, visits to the gardens designed by Geoffrey Bawa and stays at several of the Geoffrey Bawa designed hotels. This unique itinerary also includes some of the best things to see and do in Sri Lanka – incorporating top attractions like Sigiriya, a train ride in the hill country, a beach stay and a wildlife safari. Bawa & Beyond is the ultimate tour of Sri Lanka for those with an appreciation of architecture and great accommodation and who want to see and experience the best that Sri Lanka has to offer in terms of sights and experiences. You can read more about the Bawa & Beyond itinerary here.
Travellers with a passing interest in architecture or design will enjoy adding a few of the Bawa properties, tours or sites to their itinerary. Bawa is synonymous with Sri Lanka itself and it’s worth taking the time to get to know a little about his work. For those with a keen eye for design, or who just like to be surrounded by beauty and authentic local properties when they travel, our full three week Bawa & Beyond itinerary you may be ideal for you.
Who is Geoffrey Bawa the Sri Lankan architect?
Among those who made the global stage from this small island, Geoffrey Bawa possibly stands above the rest due to his unmatchable architectural ingenuity. Born in 1919 in Sri Lanka, Bawa did not pursue his career in architecture until the age of 38 when he was driven by his need to design the garden of his country home, Lunuganga Estate. He then realised that he had very little technical knowledge and thus pursued formal study. Thereafter he was unstoppable. Two decades after his demise (in 2003 at the age of 83) interest in his work remains strong. Bawa is considered as one of the pioneers of what is known as Tropical Modernism. His work resonates Tropical Modernism where fine lines between indoor and outdoor are almost insignificant.
Where can I see the work of Geoffrey Bawa in Sri Lanka?
To us there is an endless list of reasons to visit and experience Bawa’s architectural marvels. We warn you that Bawa is addictive and you will keep returning while the list grows, as we have!
Here are 3 reasons why we think you should see some of Bawa’s work when you holiday in Sri Lanka:
#1 A deeper understanding of Sri Lanka
If you want to understand Sri Lanka a little bit deeper than just a sightseeing holiday, adding a few of the Bawa sites or tours to your itinerary will introduce you to one of the country’s most revered architects and global icons. It will help you to appreciate and understand the designs of the properties you may see on your tour – awakening you to the way hotels and cafes use colours, concrete and the natural world around them. Our Sri Lanka FAQs page may provide some travel tips and information on Sri Lanka for you.
#2 Architect and design fans – see it first-hand
If architecture and design are your passion, your hobby or your business – you’ll know Bawa and we are guessing you won’t want to miss the chance to explore and experience his works and legacy first-hand. Bawa’s architectural ingenuity is unmatchable. While tropical modernism resonates his every creation, they have exceptional characteristics by way of design and colour with a blend of traditional Sri Lankan style to create something marvellously modern. These are distinctive characteristics of Bawa’s work.
#3 Stay in a Bawa designed hotel
Bawa’s work extends from the Sri Lankan Parliament complex sitting in a quiet suburb of Colombo to quaint small boutique hotels hidden between lagoons and coastal lines. We love the villa style properties designed by this Master architect. A stay at a Baw hotel in Sri Lanka will allow you the chance to get up close and be surrounded by his designs. Bawa’s accommodation and architectural creations can be easily fitted into a private tour of Sri Lanka. It is as convenient as it sounds – you don’t need to go out of your way to experience a Bawa hotel as there are several options which fit easily into a tour of Sri Lanka. There are a number of options for stays at Bawa hotels in Sri Lanka from the Cultural Triangle to the southern coasts. You can find some of the Bawa properties reviewed here on our Hotels we Love page.
3 of the best hotels designed by Geoffrey Bawa in Sri Lanka
Out of a fair number of properties designed by Bawa, some originally designed as hotels and some renovated later into accommodation, here are our 3 favourite picks:
#1 The Last House
The Last House is an upmarket, 6-bedroom villa type boutique property nestled in the quiet coastline of Mawella on the south coast of Sri Lanka close to Tangalle. As the name itself denotes, this is the last house designed by the Master architect before his death.
It is uniquely located, between the ocean and a marshy lush vegetation, the design is typical of the Master architect Bawa with open spaces, great views from the rooms and it has a mix of local architectural designs and antiques blended with modern amenities.
This property can be rented on its own if you are travelling in a group or rooms can be booked individually. For more information read here. This property is ideal for travellers who want a quiet beach stay in Sri Lanka.
#2 Heritance Kandalama
The iconic Heritance Kandalama is our second pick as it is situated in the heart of the Cultural Triangle giving easy access to visit Sri Lanka’s highlights.
Surrounded by the forest, covered by vines and foliage, this large resort is camouflaged even to a discerned traveller. The outer features of the resort does not resonate typical Bawa’s style, however, look closely and you will find his master work in the overall design and structure. This is also one of the first hotels sustainably built to preserve natural environment.
#3 Boutique 87
Once an ongoing laboratory and working piece of Bawa this was long forgotten before being rediscovered a few years ago. Boutique 87 now stands converted into a boutique stay to speak its past glory. This Bawa property is undoubtedly a firm favourite of any Bawa enthusiast. The two-bedroom property boast a sprawling lawn and massive garden that was supposed to be a replica of Bawa’s Country Home, Lunuganga Estate Garden. Coupled with its quiet surroundings, easy access to some great beaches in Bentota including Bawa’s Lunuganga Estate, butler service and a private pool, this is truly yours and one of our top picks.
Where can I see the work of Geoffrey Bawa? 3 of the best places to see Bawa’s architecture in Sri Lanka
While there are many signs of Bawa throughout the country, we think you should include these three special places.
#1 Bawa’s Town House in Colombo
On top of our list is his town house. Situated in a busy business residential hub in the middle of the city, Bawa purchased a set of four tiny houses and later converted it into his home and workspace. A visit to Bawa’s town house can be easily fitted into your day exploring Colombo. There are tour times and it generally takes between an hour to an hour and a half. For more details on what things to do in Colombo see our blog here.
#2 Paradise Road Gallery Café – Bawa’s one-time office
Gallery Café, one of the quaint cafes in Colombo with alfresco dinning, was Geoffrey Bawa’s former office. This property was converted to a fine dining restaurant with Bawa’s approval and thus remains a great place enjoy a leisurely afternoon lunch after the visit to Bawa’s Town house.
#3 Bawa’s Country home – Lunuganga Estate
A definite must see, situated in the south-western part of the island with close proximity to Boutique 87. This can be easily visited on a day trip from Colombo to the south coast or slip it into a half a day excursion during your beach stay. You can also visit when you are driving to Colombo from the south coast. The carefully designed gardens of Lunuganga Estate reflect the years of tireless effort that went into its creation. This property is available to book and stay overnight, however we would recommend a visit that coincides with a curated walking tour.
For more details on a private tour that covers both Sri Lanka’s highlights and Bawa’s architectural marvels see Bawa & Beyond.
You can also find other suggested itineraries here for a private tour of Sri Lanka.
You may also like to read our other Sri Lankan travel blogs:
Top 5 places you should visit in Sri Lanka in 2020
What is the direct flight from Melbourne to Sri Lanka like?
Why a train trip to Ella and the tea country in Sri Lanka is a must do
Contact our expert Sri Lankan tour planners to find out more about creating a custom made private tour of Sri Lanka for you. firstname.lastname@example.org