Few architects in Asia, let alone Sri Lanka, have wowed the world as much as Geoffrey Bawa. This famous architect birthed Tropical Modernism, a form of architecture that blurs boundaries between indoor and outdoor areas. No-where is this more vivid than Lunuganga, Bawa’s former country estate, now a luxury hotel in Bentota. It took over 50 years for Bawa to create the home and 15-acre gardens that exist today, and the estate is testimony to his design evolution. To stay in such hallowed grounds is a treat for anyone with a passion for design, particularly because the entire property stays true to Bawa’s original blueprint. Management is provided by the high-end team at Teardrop Hotels.
Lunuganga sits in extensive private gardens that edge Dedduwa Lake. Rooms in the main 1930s plantation house open onto lawns peppered with frangipani flowers. More are found in freestanding buildings with evocative names such as the Glass House, the Gallery Suite and Cinnamon Hill. The most recent addition to Lunuganga is the former three-bedroom home of Ena de Silva, a renowned batik artist and contemporary of Bawa. The house originally stood in Colombo yet was dismantled and reassembled piece by piece in Bawa’s garden. The villa – Bawa’s handiwork – works really well as a private retreat for families or groups.
Lunuganga is a national treasure, and there is a real air of exclusivity to stays here. The hotel has a relaxed restaurant with Teardrop’s usual flair for innovative dishes fusing local and western flavours, and a secluded view-blessed swimming pool. The hotel may be used as a base for visits to the coast (10-minutes’ drive away), and local experiences curated for guests include cookery demos, southern art tours and trips to Brief, the smaller yet equally captivating former home and estate of Bevis Bawa, Geoffrey’s older brother.