Ahangama, the up-and-coming surfer hideout on Sri Lanka’s palm-fringed south coast, has seen intimate boutique properties pop up like mushrooms in the past few years. The sleekest new addition is PALM Hotel, a seven-key resort nestled between rice paddies and palm trees in a coconut grove some five kilometres inland from Ahangama’s craggy beaches.
Palm plays at a refreshingly different beat from the whitewashed colonial villa hotels found elsewhere around town. Inspired by east London’s industrialist warehouses (the owners –he’s British, she’s Swiss with Sri Lankan roots– spent ten years in Shoreditch before settling down in Sri Lanka), it has swapped arched doors and driftwood accents for a Brutalist-inspired pavilion made of charcoal black shipping containers and large steel-framed windows. Bamboo roll curtains and rattan furniture provide the tropical touch, while chrome side tables and interior accents keep up the glam factor.
The same theme spills over to the guest rooms. Created from corrugated steel, six A-frame cabanas are scattered around the grove. Inside, whitewashed bamboo wall covering and poured concrete bed frames match with bamboo lanterns and rattan furniture. Taking advantage of Sri Lanka’s year-round balmy weather, every cabana comes with an open-air bathroom decked out with rain shower and natural bathroom amenities. At the back of the resort, two stilted suites with slatted-wood walls and separate living areas will soon be available for guests looking for more space.
Shoreditch-infused tropical architecture
Palm Hotel’s offbeat location puts it away from any restaurants, but an open kitchen solves that problem. There’s an all-day breakfast menu with the usual local breakfast trimmings (roti, muesli, and scrambled eggs), as well as an extensive dinner menu of Sri Lankan fusion dishes, including a toothsome fish pie with papadum and cheddar crust – paired well with house-made passion fruit shrub soda.
From: Wallpaper* Magazine
✅ free Wi-Fi • size matters: 6 cabins, 2 suites • hotel opened: 2020 • bathroom amenities: locally sourced ✅ free on-site parking • no pets allowed
The DNA: Done with city life and ready for a change, former East Londoners Miriam Haniffa and Laurie Spencer packed up their Shoreditch home and two young children in 2016 and moved to Sri Lanka with the plan to open a boutique hotel. “We felt drawn by the boho spirit of the south coast beaches and surf breaks that first lured in hippies and surfers in the 1960s,” Spencer says. “It seemed like the perfect place to create a new breed of tropical lifestyle retreat.”