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Thambapanni Retreat

Unawatuna,  South Coast


Cut into the rock face of Unawantuna's hills amidst the bamboo groves, Thambapanni Retreat opened in 2003.  A series of guest rooms and 7 well-appointed suites. The natural rock boulders of the area are utilised as decorative features and bedside tables.  A fusion of Asian architecture and essence of colonial heritage.  Tucked away from Unawatuna's commercial buzz yet walking distance from some excellent restaurants.

A small turquoise swimming pool reflects the lush palms and vines whilst birds and monkeys vie for attention. Wellness of mind and body are embraced in this retreat with healthy and delicious food, ayurvedic spa and reiki treatments offered as a daily programme (in-season) along with yoga/meditation.  Wake up to view the amazing, lush surroundings and the sound of the Indian Ocean.




   Child Friendly
   Swimming Pool
   Beach Access
   Groups Welcomed
   Bird Watching


The hotel is quietly tucked away, 5 minutes stroll out of Unawatuna town. The restaurant and main villa surround the pool washed with restful ochre tones and natural woods.  Thambapanni offers a selection of 'luxuries'- cable TV, dressing tables, travel packs of stationery, sewing kits, toiletries and remote- controlled air conditioning.  The modern, partly tiled bathrooms offer showers and Victorian style baths and plenty of bath sheets.  Wooden floors and teak furniture, and large reproduction beds with crisp cotton sheets, draped with white mosquito nets. Soft, unusual lights and striking batiks brighten the walls. DVD players and Tv's have been added to all rooms and movies can be rented from the reception for those early nights.

4 Tower Suites (Rooms 3/4/5/6) are up a steep 40ft climb, given privacy by swaying bamboos and wild flowers, yet the friendly staff fly up the steps with your luggage. The natural rock boulders shape the large rooms, acting as platforms for genial stone Buddha's. Teak floors, chests and wardrobes dispense a very homely feel. King size four poster beds are dressed with white/natural bed linen. Large "˜French' doors open onto a wide verandah.  Planters' chairs, chaises longues and suspended hammocks offer a range of "˜loafing' styles under the beamed canopy. The views over the ocean are spectacular.            

3 Bungalows (1/2/7): Slightly lower on the hillside are 3 private bungalows. The verandahs look onto the pretty gardens and windows offer views over the pool area. The unusual stone bed-head is softened by pretty lace mosquito nets. The modern sleeping platform has Sri Lankan mattresses - a tad hard for the Westerner.  Soft cream walls surround teak furniture and the floors are inset with gold leaf stars - a very romantic ambience.

The main villa has 5 superior rooms (Rooms 8-12) with views over the pool and 3 standard rooms (rooms 13/14/15) which are an economical alternative for guests wishing to enjoy the natural environment and wellbeing treatments on a budget. The rooms are clean, comfortable but very simple. The luxury items are not complimentary and the bathroom offers hot water showers only in the standard rooms.  No dining verandah, but guests have ample opportunity to relax around the pool. 

A new addition to the retreat are 2 apartments nestled beside the main hotel.  they stand alone over two floors. Each apartment  has a spacious feel  with antique furnishings. There is a living area and mini kitchen to prepare snacks. the added DVD player and TV really makes this ideal for guests wishing to have their own privacy. guests may use the restaurant and pool or may head into the town centre for the buzzing beach life.

The treatment rooms are understated but comfortable.  Meditation can be enjoyed anywhere and many climb to the hilltop. The yoga sanctuary is a 2nd floor pavilion above the restaurant and mats are supplied. 

Dinesh, the local manager is very efficient and flits to and fro between here and their sister Taproban Hotel. He has a team of 8 friendly staff.



The master chef of Ayurveda and seafood has a reputation of which he is justly proud. The journey into well-being begins with natural foods and the menu fuses European and Asian cuisine with the principles of Ayurvedic cooking.

Fresh organic products full of "prana" (life) are blended to provide the six tastes to aid your constitution.

The restaurant is dressed for fine dining in the evening with romantic candlelight, which sets off the flattering hues of the ochre walls. Guests are encouraged to enjoy the sociable ambience of the dining room, but those guests seeking privacy could request dinner on their balcony. (They are not well equipped for keeping food warm and the climb is tough so it is not encouraged every night.)

Inclusive breakfast is a choice of Western-style fruit and eggs or you may be tempted to indulge occasionally in the delicious Sri Lankan Rotti, Dhal or Pittu.

Seafood is their speciality and daily visits to the market ensure that you will receive supremely fresh, tasty lobster and crab.  Chef will bake, fry or spice up the fish to your taste.

Unawatuna and Galle offer many a la carte and beach side restaurants for a change.

Things to do & local tips

  • A collection of wellness, ayurvedic, yoga, reiki treatments are on offer within the retreat. Yoga masters are experienced and English speaking.  Prices are reasonable but not inclusive to booking (R5400 yoga - R1500 Full massage/Reiki).
  • Yoga sessions and local calypso/citadel music are presented regularly at nearby "˜Secret Garden'. The timetable is on the garden gate.
  • The pool is ideal for relaxing, sunbathing and cocktails at sunset.
  • Snorkelling in Unawatuna's reef is great - or try glass bottom boats for the non-water babes.
  • Diving is offered Jan-Mar when the sea is calm.
  • Jungle beach is a secluded beach around the bay and can be reached by Tuk Tuk or a pretty 1hour walk through the hilly jungle.
  • Galle's historic Fort, many galleries and bazaars make a great day trip. Many cosmopolitan restaurants justify staying through to the evening and a return Tuk Tuk is just R500.

For our recommendations on places of interest, activities, restaurants and local transport in Unawatuna, click here.