Tucked away down a side street, you’d never suspect that such a lavish villa lurked behind the inconspicuous sign. Indisch is a luxury boutique villa in Ahangama, halfway between Galle and Mirissa. It’s certainly one of the nicest places I’ve ever stayed in, and word on the street is that it’s one of the nicest villa’s in Sri Lanka’s south.
It’s pretty easy get away to a weekend of beachfront luxury here on the island paradise of Sri Lanka. Villas are dotted all along the coastline, and can cost from anything between low hundreds to the thousands per night. With so many on offer and not much of a review system, I’m aiming to document as many that we stay in as possible so that the travellers after us can better decide where and how to spend their hard earned dollars.
There’s a lot to like about Indisch – it’s the height of luxury, beautifully decorated and with attentive staff. But there was also a major problem during our stay and while most issues can easily be addressed with communication, it’s a little hard to look over the fact that money went missing from a bag in our bedroom. But more on that later.
Upon our arrival at Indisch, staff greet us with cold towels and show us to the patio and swimming pool area out the back. I have to say, the service is good. Bags are whisked away to rooms, a tray of freshly squeezed orange juice appears – the service matches the luxuriousness of the villa.
The villa itself consists of 5 guest bedrooms on the upper level of the house – two huge ones that look out onto the ocean, and three smaller (but still very good sized) bedrooms. On the lower level, there is a living and dining area, huge commercial style kitchen, a courtyard and a tiled patio that looks out onto the pool.
Lined with coconut trees on either side, the pool is big – shallow on one end for children and even a small kids playground set to one side of the villa. There are locked gates that block access to the beach, which for the most part is quite rocky immediately in front of the house though there is a bay about a 3-5 minute walk away. Staff attend the house and will look after all your cooking requirements, though the premises does not have an alcohol license so booze is BYO, which in my book is a good thing anyway.
The rooms are luxurious, big to the point of being almost ridiculous but so tastefully decorated that it still feels cosy in the best fancypants, I-guess-I’ll-pretend-I’m-rich-for-the- weekend kind of way. No bunk beds here, all the beds are four poster and covered in mosquito netting for good measure. There’s air conditioning in all all the bedrooms and there is meant to be wifi throughout the house, though it wasn’t working for our entire stay. Even the bathrooms are amazing – there was a bath and shower and double sinks in our room.
The owners have put a great amount of care into it’s furnishing and decor and brought with them lots of items from Indonesia including crockery and table napkins (I can’t help it, I have a real weakness for those items so I always notice.) The house sleeps 10, but roll away beds are available upon request at no extra charge – we got at least two, but it sounded like there were more.
Food is available by prior order, you can choose from the à la carte menu which seemed a little expensive, or request the staff cook up a particular dish or cuisine. In the case of the latter, they only charge for the ingredients and transport cost of getting the food to the villa (they don’t bill you for the staff cost of cooking and cleaning) which is pretty good value for large groups. The food itself was fine, nothing particularly amazing but good for local standards. There’s a small army of chefs in the kitchen carefully watched over by a head chef. For lunch, we had tortilla wraps and chips – they were a small portion, but the staff had made everything including the wraps and chips by hand.
The staff kindly offered to set up a table on the grass for our first night. It’s a beautiful setting and there’s a lot of attention to detail from the carefully folded swan shaped napkins to the flowers on the table. We requested a barbecue on both nights and got loads of grilled fish, big prawns and chicken alongside two big salads, potatoes and dessert. On the first night, my chicken was raw in the middle but on the second, I noticed the head chef check every piece of chicken with a meat thermometer to make sure it didn’t happen again. The salads were so-so, not because of lack of ability to make a salad but because the avocados were rock hard and fresh produce was rather average, though I imagine this is just due to there not being much choice of western-salad vegetables in a small town. Dessert, in all honesty, is not the chef’s strong point – I’d probably recommend asking for fruit, curd and treacle instead.
It’s worth noting that breakfast isn’t included in the villa’s price which even after our resident off peak (rainy season) rates was USD$1,000 per night – you’d think they’d be able to include a small breakfast especially in a country where local food is pretty affordable. Divided by 10 it isn’t too bad, but the rates do go up to a whopping USD$2,500 per night in peak season.
The staff are pleasant, though they did tend to all congregate at the back of the house in the daytime making it difficult to order drinks or get ice. They’ll organise buying mixers or snacks if required, and if you want a coconut they’ll even cut it off one of the trees in the garden for you. In the evenings, one staff member is assigned to stay up, so much so that they don’t go to bed until your entire group does – poor guy! He was up til 3am and back at 7am breakfast service the next day – ever with a smile on his face.
The only one truly disappointing thing at Indisch was that money went missing from one of the bedrooms. The money was in a wallet, in a bag behind a door. There’s no question that it went missing – ATMs in Sri Lanka send you a confirmation with how much was withdrawn and we had come straight to the house after. In addition, the thief in question didn’t take all the money from the wallet, he left some behind so I’m guessing most people wouldn’t even have realised or noticed until they went home. At USD$1,000 a night, you’d really think that your belongings would be safe. We had LKR 10,000 stolen and aside from the money itself, it’s a real breach of trust so I don’t think we’ll be returning – there are plenty of other villas in Colombo. A shame really, as it tarnished our experience of this otherwise beautiful villa. We reported it to the manager who assured us that the staff had been with him for years and that nothing like this had happened before – though I’m not entirely sure I believed him. He narrowed it down to two staff members but said that he couldn’t be sure who it was. In the end, when we came to pay the manager offered to take the money off our food bill, but we declined mainly out of concern that other non-complicit staff members would be asked to foot the shortfall.
Certainly one of the nicest villas that I’ve stayed in but I’m not sure we would return – it’s great for a special occasion or to pretend to be all ballin’ but it’s quite a bit of cash to splash around, and there are better value villas around the country. The Sri Lankan breakfast is great but in general the food does need a bit more care.
For rates and bookings, see their website.