x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Hotel Insider: Coco Bay Unawatuna, Sri Lanka

Sarah Ferguson checks into a new boutique hotel in Unawatuna, Sri Lanka.

An Aqua Romance room with its shared pool. Courtesy CoCo Bay Unawatuna
An Aqua Romance room with its shared pool. Courtesy CoCo Bay Unawatuna

The welcome

I arrive by tuk-tuk from my previous hotel, 10 minutes along the road at Unawatuna Bay. As we turn into the private gravel driveway of CoCo Bay, I am greeted by a bellboy who whisks my luggage away. I am then ushered into the airy, modern lobby of the hotel, which opens right on to the pool area and private beach. The lobby is dotted with cream couches, pale, hardwood floors and walls splashed with orange and terracotta. A waitress brings a cold towel and welcome drink. I am then introduced to my private butler, who shows me to my room and explains the hotel's facilities and meal timings.

The neighbourhood

The hotel sits on a small stretch of private beach just a few minutes' ride from Unawatuna Bay resort on the south coast of Sri Lanka, and a few minutes from the main town of Galle. The views from the beach are of the historic Dutch fort at Galle. From Colombo airport, it's a 90-minute journey to the resort.

The room

My "Aqua Romance" room is one of three on the ground floor of the 12-bedroom boutique hotel that share a long pool, with fencing for privacy. The room is decorated in keeping with the cream and orange theme of the hotel, with a huge bathroom featuring a spa bath and separate walk-in rainfall shower area. The bedroom is a good size with direct views of the pool and beach. This place not only offers a pillow menu but a soap menu, too, and the butler will cut the soap after you've chosen between jasmine, aloe vera and coconut.

The service

The staff were helpful and never intrusive. The room was cleaned daily to a very high standard. I had only booked for one night but was so taken with the place that I extended my stay for another two nights and the staff were happy to accommodate me.

The scene

CoCo Bay is definitely a place to get away from it all. A great place for couples looking for a romantic break, single travellers wanting to relax and families alike. It's modern, fresh, clean and luxurious and truly a place to relax and forget all about the outside world.

The food

The restaurant La Mer is right on the beach and offers traditional Sri Lankan dishes and international options, plus you can opt for a barbecue served on your terrace. Choose from a selection of meats and fish and the food will be cooked and brought to your room.

For breakfast, which is included in the room rate, guests can choose between the traditional European-style breakfast with pastries, fruit, pancakes, eggs, sausages and hash browns or the Sri Lankan option, which includes curries, hoppers, pol rotti and katta sambol.

The La Mer menu features salads, pastas, pizzas and steaks as well as several fresh fish dishes, such as the fisherman's catch of the day with coriander and lime salsa (990 rupees; Dh29) and dishes with a Sri Lankan twist, such as the rather intriguing spicy prawn curry pizza (880 rupees; Dh26).

Loved

Floating in the pool, watching some of the most spectacular sunsets I've ever seen. It was also the perfect place to observe the stunning thunder and lightning storm we experienced one night.

Hated

My only minor complaint was that staff frequently walked past the "private" swimming pools to fetch towels, arbitrarily cleaning the facilities when it wasn't really necessary. This lessened the overall experience of calm and privacy.

The verdict

Affordable luxury with great facilities and breathtaking views.

The bottom line

A standard double room on a bed-and-breakfast basis costs from US$184 (Dh676), including taxes and complimentary Wi-Fi. CoCo Bay Resort, 10/4 Roomassala Road, Unawatuna, Sri Lanka (www.cocobayunawatuna.com; 00 94 773658655).

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