Uga Riva is located in Negombo, the historical fishing village surrounded by colonial architecture, coconut plantations and Dutch canals.

Sri Lanka is a tropical paradise within a short 4-hour flight time from the UAE. Known for its sandy beaches, historical relics and tea plantations, there is just so much to explore in this tiny but mighty teardrop-shaped island in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

Negombo is a must-stop destination and the ideal starting point for travellers through the country. Located just 30-minutes away from the only International Airport on the island, this historical fishing village is filled with culture and history. Surrounded with rice fields and coconut plantations, it boasts a network of canals built by the Dutch in the 17th Century.

We headed straight to Uga Riva, arguably the best boutique hotel in Negombo, it is housed within a colonial manor and cocooned among coconut trees and lush foliage. This 180-year old historical heritage building has been beautifully restored to maintain that old-world charm. Boasting pillared verandas, delicate fretwork, graceful arches and a traditional courtyard, the features all retain the manor’s rich heritage.

As we drove into the viridescent estate, there was a sense of calmness and refined elegance that we couldn’t help but notice. The entire staff from the gracious manager to our very own cheery butler all lined up to greet us with a traditional welcome ceremony. We quickly did the formal introductions and the paperwork in the verandah surrounded by local art and antique accessories, while sipping homemade iced tea and coconut-sugar filled crepes and then went over to the suite.

With just seven individually designed guest rooms, each one is defined by its own unique layouts, original features and garden views. The colonial-style high ceiling rooms with restored dark teak wood furnishings are beautifully refurbished with modern-day amenities including plush bathrobes, air-conditioning and a fully stocked bar. The rooms are simply immaculate and overlook the elegant garden. Oh, and you will be sure to have the best sleep ever in the king-sized, four-poster bed with dreamy linen curtains and crisp white sheets.

Uga Riva offers the most personalised experience-the hardworking staff is available around the clock to ensure that every need can be met. The kitchen is led by a local chef who is eager to serve us his culinary delights. With a focus on sustainability, the idea is for guests to pick dishes that are made with freshly sourced ingredients including the catch-of-the-day. We let it be known that our preference was Sri Lankan cuisine and the chef kindly indulged us with all his specialities on mealtimes at are our discretion.

We often requested coconut water and were efficiently served freshly picked bright orange local King Coconuts straight from the grove. This sweet and refreshing drink was an instant thirst-quencher and one that we enjoyed several times a day throughout our stay. Truly a farm-to-table experience we also enjoyed the freshly picked mangoes from the property and the tiny but distinctly sweet bananas. In fact they graciously packed us a fruit basket for our onwards travel too!

We couldn’t leave without eating the delectable but labor-intensive Hoppers for breakfast and that is exactly what we were presented with. The bowl-like pancakes were served some with eggs and some without. They were accompanied with a rich chicken curry and a fiery sambol chutney. The freshly prepared papaya juice was the perfect drink to go with the most important meal of the day.

On the first night we enjoyed a local feast of aromatic curry, fresh vegetables and delicious daal served on a banana leaf with a side of homemade chutneys. In order to enjoy the full experience we ate with our hands and trust us when we say this food was finger-licking good!

For our second night we mentioned crab curry and again the chef outdid himself with a mouthwatering spread. For dinner we feasted on the most succulent and sweet crab meat (caught just a few hours before) and dipped the piping hot roast paan (local bread) to soak up the gravy. This robust meal was the best way to wrap up our culinary experience at Uga Riva.

The swimming pool sits in harmony with its surroundings and makes. It is the perfect spot for lounging or then catching up on some reading. We spent hours relaxing there while nibbling on the most exquisite fruit platters and freshly squeezed watermelon juice.

This serene sanctuary offers the perfect balance between modern luxuries and ancestral island culture and is the place to go  to reset and rejuvenate. Enveloped in lush foliage, a rich aesthetic, and with sustainability at its heart, Uga Riva is the ideal magical escape that blends wellness with luxury.

To book your stay at UGA RIVA click here. 

For a full look at the UGA ESCAPES portfolio click here. 

Photo credit: Uga Escapes/Uga Riva


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