Only 15 minutes inland from Galle Fort and you rise up to a rural peach. Situated on a ridge with resplendent double-aspect views: on one side is the beautiful Koggala Lake surrounded by palms, forest, paddy fields and mango groves, while the other takes in an intensely green working tea estate with soaring trees and lush jungle. Either way, you are spellbound. My spell was temporarily broken by a deep bark from a large red-faced macaque – wildlife has marked this territory too.
Kahanda Kanda, also referred to as KK, translates as Yellow Moon Mountain, which is why the 80-metre wall that divides the divine outlooks is a striking Colorado ochre yellow. This is a bold statement, especially in such a profoundly exquisite and emerald setting, but it works. As do all the quirky features I noticed while walking around the property with the warm, modest and eccentric owner, George Cooper, who single-handedly picked out every little detail. The combination of a well-travelled and stylish taste, along with a passion for the locale is, in this instance, awe-inspiring.
Were it not for the fact that I had my young child travelling with me on this trip (this is a child-free zone) I would have adored a couple of nights here. The living pavilion is without walls and donned in an array of eclectic furniture: plantation daybeds, dark antique wood dressers, black leather Charles Eames-style chairs, comfortable sofas upholstered in one of his own fabrics (available to purchase), and floors of spotless hazel-hued screed.
Monopoly, backgammon, Scrabble and glossy books were stacked up on a daybed – pursuits that could go uninterrupted, anytime of day or night, rain or shine. The overall effect is truly transporting and extremely creative, as well as deeply relaxing and homely. I don't know if it was the ban on kids, the location, or the high-end ethnic design that created such an inviting and mellow vibe – perhaps a special combo.
Zen is woven into the architecture of life at KK, with a large lily-strewn water feature centred with a bronze sculpture beside the open-to-the-elements outdoor pavilions, while frangipani really does scent your walk. The generous to overflowing pine-green infinity swimming pool, overlooking jungle and lake, with a gushing waterfall-effect at the far-end, has arresting appeal.
There are nine suites, all air-conditioned and exceptionally well decorated, with views across the tea estate. Each one is individual, as bedrooms in a cool villa would be, but the fusion of local ethnic, far-flung and old English that washes through all the interiors is enchanting. There is also an intimate and elegant deluxe Peacock Suite with a private courtyard, as well as a twin-bedded Tea Suite.
Finally, the most outstanding and private abode is the super-deluxe Dubu Suite, or small house. With views over Koggalla Lake and a super sexy private pool, this Javanese petit-luxe retreat looked sensational. The separate building is an antique joglo house, imported from Java, with a carved wooden ceiling, woven palm walls, a surround of louvered doors, plus a treacle-moon dream of boudoir treasures.
A romantic teak sleigh bed is dressed in soft cotton with views across the pool and into the abundant wilderness. There is a wrap-around terrace, two bathrooms with outdoor showers and sunken baths, as well as a private lawn with a large statue of Buddha. If you choose to honeymoon in Sri Lanka you would be hard pushed to top this suite.
Dining is relaxed, easy, healthy and local, relying on many products from the estate's own supply of fruits, vegetables and herbs as well as extremely good classic Sri Lankan curries. You can eat where you please – in-suite, in the open-plan dining pavilion, beside the pool, and almost anywhere you could wish for, around and within the rich plantation.
KK is a gem, a true one-off, exploding with exotic delights, in a location that is unquestionably glorious. What's more, you are only a 15-minute tuk-tuk or taxi ride to a pristine golden beach, complete with palms and hippy-chic bars, or to the wonders of the World Heritage Site of Galle Fort. You may not be able take your children with you, but I am quite sure that this little slice of tropical Eden is responsible for the making of many.