Villa de Zoysa in Sri Lanka—old-world tropical modernism

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Earlier this year, F & I were lucky enough to spend ten days at the beautiful Villa de Zoysa, in Bossa on the south western coast of Sri Lanka. Stepping onto the property means entering a tropical paradise: the gardens are lush with trees and plants and the house stands tall and stately, in the beautiful local palette of white and dark wood.

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The original house was built in 1926 by the current owner Devinda de Zoysa’s grandfather. It is beautifully proportioned with high ceilings, stone or tiled floors and the richness of dark wood, which is everywhere from the stunning main staircase (built from one gigantic long of Burmese teak that washed up onto the shore), the door frames, and the minimal furniture.

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Sunlight, heat and sea breeze are the elements that dictate life here and the house is built to accommodate them. Long covered verandahs run the lengths of the front of the home, where you can spend a languid afternoon reading, shaded from the blazing sun. Inside, a very open plan flows from all sides into the central courtyard, open to the sky and planted with a frangipani tree. The bathrooms on the ground floor are also all partially open to the sky, offering a sublime connection to nature.

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One of the mainstays of the house and our experience there was sitting at the long dining table and sharing meals and stories with Devinda and the other lovely guests we met whilst there. Breakfast and dinner were fantastical experiences defined by fresh, home-cooked food with recipes from the family archives. My breakfast staples were fruit salad, rich yoghurt made from buffalo milk and the famed coconut rotis. Dinner was a combination of delicious vegetarian dishes with red or white rice, dhal and always something sweet to finish things off.

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The yoga shala (school) and the pool are amongst the newest additions to the properties, but both blend in seamlessly. Our mornings started with tea on the verandah followed by a sweaty yoga session with our lovely yoga teacher and then a long, healthy breakfast. The beach is right across the road and some evenings, our yoga practise was held there, with the crashing of waves and the golden rose beams of evening sun dominating everything else.

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All in all, it was a magical trip, definitely made so special by the location we stayed in. In wake of the tragic bombings of the past Sunday, it became even more clear to us what a paradise Sri Lanka is—and how warm and welcoming its population is. If you’re looking for a languid, tranquil space to spend a few days, maybe this is just the thing!

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 Images & Text: Vatsala Murthy

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