In October I had the pleasure of spending two nights at Cantaloupe Levels, a boutique hotel situated in Unawatuna; a coastal area home to some of the best beaches on the south coast of Sri Lanka. The hotel looks over both the turquoise Indian ocean and also the lush greenery of the Rumassala headland – Rumassala appropriately translates into a ‘pleasant view’ and the levels of the hotel make the most of this gorgeous panorama.
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The Cantaloupe Levels team got in touch to ask if I would stay for free in exchange for content and this honest review. I had never considered collaborating before and serendipitously the two-night stay fell on my FINAL TWO NIGHTS after backpacking Asia for almost six months. I cancelled my hostel booking and off I trotted to what would turn out to be the perfect ending to my adventures in Asia.
A highlight of staying at Cantaloupe Levels is it’s close proximity to the World Heritage site of Galle, home to a walled Dutch Fort, some of the cutest Gelato stops and cafes around, and an intriguing lighthouse. In the opposite direction is Mirissa – home to Coconut Tree Hill which must be the most naturally photogenic place I’ve ever visited – which is about a 30-minute drive away. Better yet, it’s just a few minutes walk from the Japanese Peace Pagoda.
Tuk-tuks are available or the reception will be more than happy to arrange exertions into Galle and the surroundings.
Looking for beaches?
Not only do you have the rightfully popular Unawatuna tourist spots nearby, but the appropriately named ‘Jungle Beach’ is about a 10-minute walk away. This quiet cove has a paradise quality about it that is hard to find in many modern tourist destinations – it’s a very short walk from the hotel but out of the way from the busy beaches elsewhere on the South coast of Sri Lanka.
Depending on the time of year, surfing, snorkeling and scuba diving are all possible activities from the hotel too.
Getting to Cantaloupe Levels
The hotel is a two and a half hour drive from the airport and best accessed by car. Alternatively, you could arrange a taxi or tuk-tuk from Galle Station.
FACILITIES & AMENITIES
After five months of travel in Asia, I found Sri Lankan hospitality to be amongst the best in the continent – and the staff at Cantaloupe Levels were no exception. I felt immediately at home after being greeted by the friendly reception and throughout my stay, it seemed they genuinely took care to see if there was anything I needed. For me, the staff were a real highlight of my stay and I honestly could not fault them.
- Each level of the hotel has a new WiFi to connect to which for me wasn’t an issue. It worked very well.
- The air-conditioning was easy to control and kept me cool.
- Laundry and ironing is available at an additional charge, though I did not use this service.
- The cleaning and turn-down service in the room was great. They did turn some jazz music on the telly which momentarily made me think I’d walked into the wrong room when I came back teehee.
With alfresco dining or a small indoor restaurant available, it was easy to feel settled and comfortable when sitting down for a meal. I tried both the Western food options and the Sri Lankan offerings and enjoyed both, but must say I was particularly impressed by the dessert selection and their signature cocktails. Sri Lankan main meals are delicious everywhere in the country so these sweets and treats are where the hotel really excelled in terms of food.
A quick note: on my final morning I had to leave at 5:30 am to catch a flight, and the hotel ensured security passed on a breakfast package for me which was a very nice touch.
Please note the pricing on the menu doesn’t include tax or service, so take that into consideration during your stay.
The tri-colored pool is distinctive and it’s hard to resist a mid-afternoon dip. When laying on one of the loungers I appreciated the view over the sea and the relaxing music playing from a hidden speaker. I’d spent my backpacking trip largely rushing around and staying in dorms and it was the perfect way to reflect on the previous months.
Personally, my favourite two features of the pool area were the leafy decorations which made the hotel feel at home in its position on the Rusamanna headland and secondly the sheltered ‘beds’. I had a tranquil breakfast here one morning overlooking the pool.
There is also a spa on sight offering various treatments, concentrating on a tailor-made, personalised service. The spa is open daily from 0900 – 1800 and I can’t comment since I didn’t use this service.
There are only 9 rooms which I think accounts for the attentive service; it really felt like the hotel was Just For Me at times – which could partially also be due to travelling off-season.
The bedroom itself is large, with a widescreen TV, large comfortable bed, a wardrobe sofa and – best of all – two loungers which overlook a huge panorama of the coast; the floor-to-ceiling windows mean the stunning location is never out of sight. It was this aspect that made Cantaloupe Levels the perfect way for me to finish my trip to Sri Lanka.
The bathroom had his-and-hers sinks, a large shower and a jacuzzi bath. Yep, a jacuzzi bath. Sprinkle in some of the bath salts they provide and enjoy!
My highlights were threefold: the attentive staff were the epitome of fantastic Sri Lankan hospitality, the poolside breakfast was a truly tranquil experience and the gorgeous panoramic view of the coast from my room was a dream.
Personally I loved the location; walking distance to its own secluded beach and out the way of the busy tourist streets, but you will have to arrange a tuk-tuk (independently or with the hotel) when you wish to visit Galle or the main beaches of Unawatuna. But you’re looking at a 10-minute drive, so to me, this was really not a problem.
WOULD I RECOMMEND THIS HOTEL?
An easy way to sum up the enjoyment of a hotel is with one question; would I stay here again? Honestly, I would love to come back to Levels or Cantaloupe’s other property Aqua which lies further down the coast. You can book your stay here.
Of course, it has a special place in my heart as it rounded off months of solo travel in Asia and I couldn’t thank the staff enough for giving me the opportunity to mark the occasion in such a magical way.