French House, Unawatuna
The peaceful hidden garden at the French House.
This little getaway was recommended by a friend and so we decided to stay there during the Galle Lit Fest. Driving down the Devalaya Road, you can almost miss the joint ‘cos the entrance is so tiny. It’s actually just a gated alley between a vegan restaurant and someone’s garden, and there’s no where to park at all.
Walk down the narrow passage, though, and it opens up to a walauwwa-style house with a stunning little garden, complete with pond and gazebo. The place is run by a pair of brothers named Guy and David (they’re French, so that’s Gee and Da-veed) with just one young local as a sort of waiter and handyman.
The bar and dining area are on the right and the rooms on the left.
As you can see, you eat in the fresh air (as everyone should whenever possible), and the food’s pretty bloody excellent, cooked on demand by Guy or David. Unfortunately, they don’t have an extensive menu (“Chicken or fish, m’seur?”), and you need to tell ’em well ahead if you actually want to eat. We had fish for dinner the first night, and it was amazing. The omlettes are damn good too, just don’t mention onions (“Ernienz??? I do nert poot ernienz in ser omlettes!”). Can’t vouch for the bar, since all we bought was beer, but there was plenty of Lion and Carlsberg and bloody cheap too. I think this is the only bar, restaurant or hotel I’ve ever been to that sold beer at cost.
Nice big tables to at which to eat, chat, play board games, roll shit, etc.
There are a couple of cozy alcoves near the rooms, complete with cushions, coffee tables, and ashtrays, and these are perfect for the evening Bla’gaard or joint. And did I mention the croquet? Yes, the hoops I stumbled over on the lawn are meant for gently tapping wooden balls into with bloody great hammers.
The rooms are quite pretty (especially no 6), with bright bedspreads, four poster bed, and are cool and airy. Sadly, all my pictures of the rooms are a tad blurred (bedrooms tend to make me my knees wobble). There are also a couple of daybeds which can double as single beds since they come with mosquito nets. Hot water and air-conditioning too.
On the downside, it’s a walk to the beach. Yup, you can’t even see it. If you didn’t know better, the hump of the hill behind the devalaya which rises beyond the gazebo will make you think you’re in Kandy. Personally, I prefer a place actually on the beach if I’m going down south, but other than that the French House is a nice quiet place with good food and service.