Living Heritage Koslanda

Living Heritage Koslanda Review: The paradise up the mountains

Often, we see a photo of a hotel and think its way beyond our budget. We envy those whom we see in those pictures, for having luxuries we cannot afford. Living Heritage Koslanda is one of those places. When we first saw the photos, we did not dream of going there. However, the fortune played its part, as we saw a considerable discount on their Instagram page for the low season. And we wasted no time to reserve our rooms.

Living Heritage is a boutique hotel in the sleepy village of Koslanda. There are just nine rooms, but the whole property is 80 acres in size. Much of the land is a thick jungle with wild animals, including wondering elephants. It is a true marvel of Sri Lankan architecture, genuine Sri Lankan hospitality, and above all, a masterpiece of sustainable tourism.

“Credit should be given where it is due. This paradise – as we know no other word to describe it – is the brainchild of its current owner Lucy and her late husband, Manik Sandrasagra. They teamed up with a true talent in architecture, Mr. Channa Daswatte, who is a student of none other than the great Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa.”

Living Heritage Koslanda
The Ambalama near the infinity pool.

Late Birthday

We went there in June 2018 for a late birthday celebration. Yes, late, by entire one week, as Dinee was in South Korea on my 31st birthday. 

As a rule of thumb, we always try to stay in one place for two nights or more. The reason is that, we think one night is too short to get to know the area (find the right angles, locate the right light, time the sunset – yes, for all these photographer’s problems! Still, with Living Heritage Koslanda, we missed out on so much more, even two nights was not enough, so we highly recommend you to consider a longer stay.

Table of Contents

Living Heritage Koslanda
The view from the balcony of our amazing forest pavilion

Koslanda

Koslanda is a small village on the South-Eastern slope of the hill country. The nearby Ella town overshadows much of the tourism in the area. As a result, Koslanda preserves the original up-country charm. Koslanda is known for its Diyaluma fall, the second-highest waterfall in Sri Lanka. In recent times, Diyaluma has made remarkable progress as a travel destination, as a hike and a camping site on the top of the waterfall.

Why Living Heritage Koslanda

So why we needed to go to Living Heritage Koslanda? The answer is that the place was on top of our lists after seeing some Instagram posts. We were taken by surprise with the beauty of their infinity pool, and we needed to be there so badly. So after Dinee came back from South Korea, we wasted no time to book the place for two nights and head over to Koslands to celebrate my belated birthday after one week.

We have to give a special mention to Travel Plus Style, who did an excellent review of the place, and their Instagram posts mostly encouraged us to go there. You can read their review here.

Travel Doc Fam
The infinity pool of the Living Heritage Koslanda

Getting there

Koslanda is not the easiest of places to get to from Colombo; you need to travel for more than five hours through the hill country. And in our case, we did not take the Rathnapura Balangoda A4 highway. Instead, we took the longer route to come to Matara through E01 southern expressway and then made our way passing Tangalle and Hambantota through the down south.

Now before you raise your eyebrows and question our navigation skills, we have a little explanation for doing. By this time we were living in Colombo, since both of us were doing our MSc’s there. But before that, we were living in Hambantota, where we worked as medical officers in the Hambantota hospital. And we kind of felt we needed to see the area once more as we loved the area so much, even though basically everybody would give us sympathetic looks whenever we told them that we work at Hambantota. (Hambantota is not all that rural; after all, it has its port and an airport and a constant stream of presidents!)

Living Heritage Koslanda
The architecture of Living Heritage Koslanda is a blend of modern luxuries with traditional Sri Lankan rich heritage

Reaching Wellawaya

From Hambantota, we took the Ella Wellawaya road to come to Wellawaya. From Wellawaya, you have to turn left to the scenic Beragala road. This road has a lot of bends, and the road condition is not all that good, but even our car (the Aqua sport with super small ground clearance) managed it just fine.

The tricky part is turning from the main road. Google maps will assist you just enough, but by the time we went there (June 2018), there was no name post by the main road, so we had to call the hotel and confirm it is the right place before turning to the gravel road.

From there, it was a bumpy ride in the gravel road for another one kilometer or so, which was not so kind with our low ground clearance car. (a fun fact: we hoped to make this in our new Nissan X-trail T30, but there was a last-minute repair, and we had to take the Aqua instead!)

Living Heritage Koslanda Property
The 80 acre property of Living Heritage Koslanda comes with its own waterfall stream and even these mini dams

Setting

The moment we turned from the main road, we entered a small forest, with the chatter of birds and a forest cover that prevented any direct sunlight on the way. It was such a magical feeling, like driving into an actual forest. Later we learned that this forest surrounding Living Heritage has all forms of wildlife, including the majestic elephants. At nights, elephants can come close to the hotel, though we did not see more than the elephant dung, luckily!

When we got off the vehicle, we were warmly welcomed by the hotel staff and taken to the lobby area: where the magic happens. Inside this lush green forest lies a small boutique hotel with traditional Sri Lankan architecture and modern luxuries. The hotel is a small one with a small lobby and a restaurant area that sits below the main house.

Living Heritage Koslanda Infinity Pool
The infinity pool of Living Heritage Koslanda: you cannot get enough of this

The Infinity Pool of Living Heritage Koslanda

The real highlight of the property is its infinity pool located above the forest pavillions. This infinity pool looks towards the mountains and paddy fields of the Koslanda valley and has some of the best spots for taking magical photographs. We spend a lot of time taking pictures around this pool, and so a lot of Instagrammers who come here.

Next to the pool, there is a large seating area called Ambalama. The place is Ambalama because it is like one. An Ambalama is a traditional Sri Lankan building by the roadsides, mostly built on crossroads, for the travelers (who used to walk long distances on those days) to rest and spend the night. The main lobby is also an Ambalama, a real tribute to the use of tractional cultural heritage for a pure architecture.

To get more ideas in the hotel setting, you can watch this video with some fantastic drone footage of the property.

The waterfall of Living Heritage Koslanda

If you think the infinity pool is the most exciting part of the Living Heritage, you are mistaken. They have one more surprise, which is a sizeable private waterfall within their property. This waterfall is not small in size by any means, with a deep base pool that you can swim in with some caution as it is quite deep at the far end, and the water is icy cold, even in the dry months.

You can see some footage of the waterfall to get an idea of its size by watching this video.

Accommodation

Living heritage has three room types, three luxury villa suites, a chalet named pepper garden cottage, and five open chalets called forest pavillions. The three suites are in the main house, which opens into a typical indoor garden. These suites have their outdoor plunge pools with perfect privacy.

Then near the parking area, there is another small chalet type room called the pepper garden cottage. This room is best for those who seek a bit more privacy. And it is a solid chalet made of stone, with its garden and with easy access to both the pool and the main restaurant.Li

Living Heritage Koslanda
The stairways of Living Heritage Koslanda is so picturesque, we couldn't ignore anyone of them.

A girl who blooms (an Irish girl named Siobhán) wrote a great post on the suites and the pepper garden cottage with pictures, which you can read here.

Forest Pavilions of Living Heritage Koslanda

Then there are the five forest pavillions. (there were only two when we visited, and they were in the process of building more). And these open theme rooms are for those who seek a little bit more adventure and want to be close to nature. We stayed at one of these rooms, and we loved the experience.

Price-wise, forest pavilions are the cheapest, and the luxury villa suites are the most expensive. But the price difference is not all that wide, and you can choose one based on your personality and level of relaxation you seek.

Forest Pavilion Living Heritage Koslanda
Though it it the cheapest of the three types, we feel the forest Pavilions are the real highlight of Living Heritage Koslanda

Food

One of the most impressive things about this property is its food. They offer both local and western dishes, and there is a decent amount of options to choose from despite this being a small hotel with just six rooms.

We had the food in the main restaurant, but they offer room service as well. We liked to walk to the main restaurant just for a change and therefore opted for that option.

Living Heritage Koslanda Lobby
The lobby area is also made in the form of an ambalama and it is one of the best places to relax in Living Heritage Koslanda

Things to do in Living Heritage Koslanda

There is so much to do while you are at Living Heritage. Two of our top recommendations are to spend the evenings swimming in the magical infinity pool and take a morning hike to the secret waterfall for a private swim in its natural pool.

We followed the advice of this blog post and woke up to the beauty and melodies of nature. We highly recommend you go through this post, just for the beauty of its photographs to be inspired.

The garden of Living Heritage Koslanda
From the garden, you can look towards the blue mountains in the distance, the green forests in the backdrop and listen to the endless chatter of the birds.

I feel that one reason why Living Heritage stands out from the rest in such an impressive manner is that in all its romance and isolation, this is not just another honeymoon hotel. It offers something for everyone and an excellent choice for families with little kids. The review by the TraveLynn family is one good example of how the toddlers will love this charming place, which you can read here.

Secret Waterfall
The secret waterfall of Living Heritage Koslanda was the true highlight of the entire trip.

Staff and the service

We have been to a lot of hotels, villas, resorts in Sri Lanka, and the team at Living Heritage can be equal to some of the best we have seen to this day. I think that much of the credit should go to the manager Mr. Carrim, and the assistant manager, who is friendly and polite and always attentive to the guests’ needs. Such qualities quickly go to the rest of the staff and uplift the overall service.

Flower bouquets from Living Heritage
We are a little lost on the number of flower bouquets they gave us, I think it is either three or four, every time with the freshly plucked flowers from their garden.

Things we missed

We went to Koslanda mainly with hopes of making it to the top of the Diyaluma falls, which has become a real sensation among the travelers in recent times. And unfortunately, we couldn’t make it, as we were too tampered by the luxuries of the hotel, we did not want to leave it for a hike up to the top of Diyaluma, which was just a few kilometers away. As a result, we missed the chance to take a great shot like this one.

We are just kidding; we may not have made anything close to the level of creativity in this photo. But at least we would have made it to the top of Diyaluma. What sort of travelers are we since we have not even been to Upper Diyaluma? (please don’t leave the blog!)

Our laziness to leave the hotel for a day out also cost us not see the village around the property. The other bloggers have mentioned that there is so much to see and so much to experience in the town. We were disappointed when we saw this post on Instagram that we need to go back as soon as possible.

Diyaluma from a distance
We could not get to the top, but stopped at the foot of the waterfall on our way back to take this shot.

Best time to visit Living Heritage Koslanda

We went in the low season in June as the prices drop and we got a good deal. But the best time is between December to April, when the weather is at its best. This period is the springtime, and the flowers are blooming, and the wildlife is in abundance.

In her blog post, Janet describes how she felt when she visited during the rainy season.

But if you are traveling for a relaxing getaway or need to spend a few days in luxury, then any time is an excellent time to visit Living Heritage. The infinity pool and the secret waterfall will welcome you all year.

Forest Pavilion view
This is the view you wake up to on each morning, and we would have stayed there forever if we could.

Overall verdict

We do not have anything wrong to say about Living Heritage Koslanda that we always recommend it to anyone who asks for travel tips from us. It is like our number one secret getaway in Sri Lanka. The staff, the location, the food, all are of superb quality.

Please note that this is not a paid promotion, we booked this hotel through one of their standard promotions.

To know more about the property and to book directly with the hotel, please visit their official website here.

Our final score
5/5
Location 95%
Food 90%
Cleanliness 90%
Service 95%
Value for money 95%
Comfort 90%
Ambiance 100%
Relax at Koslanda
This is the perfect place to relax from your busy urban lives.

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