I stayed at Sri Lanka's only private luxury resort ÀNI and it was peak luxury

“It's all yours”

As the warm water of the private outdoor shower melted over my freshly sun-kissed face, I peered through the overarching palms to see a troop of wild langur monkeys swinging playfully from branch to branch. The distant call of the peacock echoed through the resort along with the crashing waves of the Indian ocean. At this moment, as the spicy aroma of coconut curry filled my nose, I had peaked. I was in ultimate luxury, engulfed in the essence of ÀNI Sri Lanka.

Getting there

Following an eleven-hour overnight flight from London, we (a bunch of incredibly fortunate journalists) landed on the lush teardrop-shaped island of Sri Lanka, my first visit to the country and my first step on the largest continent in the world, Asia.

Since the ÀNI private resort is around a three hour drive from the international airport in Colombo, we first stopped-off for a night in the most luxurious and authentic airport hotel I’ve experienced, Wallawwa. It is an 18th century colonial country house with 18 bedrooms and a secluded swimming pool completely surrounded by tropical gardens over 200 years old. It felt like we were in the middle of the jungle, albeit just a fifteen minute drive from the airport.

After a restful and much-appreciated full night sleep at Wallawwa, the next day, ÀNI was waiting for us.

The southern coast of Sri Lanka hosts a number of authentic beach towns, mostly uninterrupted by tourism. One of which is Dikwella, a charming market town, famous for the clear waters and sandy bay of Hiriketiya Beach. Set near the town, above an untouched palm-fringed beach is the beautifully secluded, ÀNI Sri Lanka.

What's the vibe?

As we arrived, the wonderful general manager, Dinesh and his team were waiting for us with ice-cold flannels and fresh coconut water ready to welcome us to the resort. It was giving White Lotus and I was fully there for it.

ÀNI Sri Lanka is a jaw-dropping five acre luxury estate with mesmerising panoramic views of the Indian ocean with nothing to be seen ahead but the twinkling blue horizon. The rest of the resort is encircled by the luxuriant Sri Lankan jungle, ensuring complete privacy from the outside world.

ÀNI has been purposefully designed to deliver the minimalist aesthetic of modern architecture while also responding to the tropical environmental conditions of the island. It’s centred around two main pavilions for the group to come together, featuring indoor and outdoor dining areas, infinity pools overlooking the ocean, comfortable lounges with gaming stations, cosy wine cellars, cocktail bars and libraries. Just below the main pavilion, there is direct access to three miles of stunning beachfront, where you can take a sandy sunrise walk to see the turtles on the shore or stroll along to the nearby Buddhist temple for a blessing or if like me, you crave the salty water on your skin, an enthusiastic member of staff can assist you to swim or surf as the waters can be fierce.


ÀNI is an all-inclusive, private resort designed exclusively for a singular group of guests. A minimum of six suites need to be booked then you have the entire place, staff included, to yourself. It can accommodate from six to 30 guests, so whether you book six suites or 15, to quote ÀNI’s credible mantra - “it’s all yours”. Bring your partner, parents, grandparents, siblings, friends, cousins, kids, there’s enough space and staff for the whole gang.

What were the rooms like?

The modern minimalist aesthetic continues through to the suites, with dark terracotta woods contrasting against the natural stone textures and the views of thriving greenery and glittering turquoise seas. The rooms were absolutely huge, when the beautiful king size bed didn’t have my undivided attention, it was either the walk-in-wardrobe or the concrete bathtub big enough for three. The bathroom/bedroom separator opens up, so you can enjoy a bath to bed conversation with bae or cross-suite playlist via the bluetooth sound system.


There’s also two showers, one inside and one outside in a perfectly secluded space where you can embrace nature but retain your privacy. Each suite has a terrace where you can chill as you listen to the crashing waves or take a dip in your private plunge pool. The suites have a laundry service, where you can dump your well worn clothes into a laundry basket and the next day they will be hanging up, fully-pressed in your walk-in wardrobe. A dream.

What was special about the service? How was the food?

I could talk about the service and food at ÀNI until I retire, buckle-up. The team of staff at ÀNI are amongst the most wonderful people I’ve ever encountered, they are incredibly devoted and passionate about giving you world class service at every moment.

Starting with head chef, Cyril Human. Aside from him having the greatest and happiest smile of all time, he has a wealth of international experience offering cuisine from all over the world, he and his team will carefully curate your whole menu including breakfast, lunch and dinner. For breakfast, you can expect made-to-order Sri Lankan hoppers, which is a kind of a pancake made with rice flour, served with egg or a spoonful of spicy daal curry. I’m desperately trying to teach myself how to make these at home.

Breakfast hoppers

Sri Lankan coconut chicken curry

For lunch, you have options, you could have a freshly prepared picnic on the lawn, a mouth-watering spread of sushi with fish freshly harvested from the Indian ocean or a cooking lesson from Chef Cyril himself followed by a tasting session of his famous Sri Lankan coconut chicken curry.

Afternoon tea on the lawn


Ceylon Arrack cocktails


Dinner. *Moment of silence*. The dinner settings at ÀNI are just incredible, like jaw-dropping incredible. In the five days we were there, we had delicious fairytale barbeque beneath a canopy of twinkling lights. We went barefoot for dinner in the middle of the infinity pool surrounded by candle light while a guitarist serenaded us into our freshly charred steaks. We tucked into a specially curated three course Indian dinner beneath a tree bedazzled in hanging lanterns while traditional Sri Lankan dancers performed for us. The creativity of the team when it comes to cuisine, entertainment and experiences is just out of this world.


Each and every person on the team is thoughtful, friendly and always eager to help. I got the impression that everyone was genuinely happy to be working there. While the big gestures like the dinner set-ups were memorable, it was the little touches that made my experience at ÀNI truly unforgettable. Almost every member of staff remembers your name, greeting you personally at every opportunity.

The wonderful ÀNI team

One evening a few of us left some belongings in some random corner of the resort, a bag, some sandals, a hat. The next morning we all woke up to our forgotten items carefully placed outside our specific suites, they made note of everything. Every evening, we’d find little gifts placed on our beds like a traditional Sri Lankan silk scarf, a freshly peeled cinnamon stick from the day or a handmade bracelet. When returning to your suite, you find the room hasn’t only been cleaned, it has been tidied. My toiletries around the sink had been spread evenly and arranged perfectly, being a minimalist fiend, this was very pleasing. My round hairbrush had been rid of all the old hair so tightly entangled within it, a job that I’d been putting off for weeks.

If you were chilling by the pool, at least once a day someone would offer to clean your sunglasses. Your sliders would be straightened beside your lounger while you swim. Not to mention, your favourite drinks orders, whether it’s coffee at breakfast, your favourite wine for dinner or go-to cocktail by the pool, they had you covered. I was beginning to think they knew me better than I knew myself.

The beach at ÀNI Sri Lanka

Sadly, I am an absolute magnet for mosquito bites. Though there are lots of mosquitos in Sri Lanka, the team were always on hand with citronella, whether you’re on the resort or on an excursion. A lovely and gentle member of staff applies the gel to your arms and legs before dinner (primetime for mossies) every evening. Though I had bites from the journey, I didn’t get one new bite since arriving at ÀNI.

I have to mention one of my favourite people at ÀNI, Manjula. He’s the spa manager and an all round great guy to have around, very insightful if you have any questions about health, wellbeing, culture or anything. Manjula used a special ayurvedic remedy on my reactive mosquito bites and by the morning they were gone, like magic.

Is there anything to do?

There’s plenty to do within the resort, swim in one of the two infinity pools, or take a thrilling slide-in if you prefer. If you want to sink a little further into relaxation, you can relish in an ayurvedic massage at the spa or wake-up with a sunrise yoga class on the beach. If you crave activity you can workout in the air conditioned gym, play tennis, shuffleboard or partake in a privately curated PT session. You can play one of the many board games in the library, a game of chess in the pool or enjoy movies beneath the stars in the evening.

Chess in the pool


Sunrise yoga on the beach

Movies by starlight

Although the ÀNI resort is secluded, there is no limitations to leaving the resort to immerse yourself in Sri Lankan culture. There’s a fleet of colourful tuk-tuks at the resort ready to take you wherever you please. The team takes great pride in sharing the experiences of the south region of Sri Lanka and are more than happy to arrange excursions. You can take a walk around the nearby Buddist temple, sip some tea at Handunugoda Tea Estate, cruise the coastline in a private catamaran in the search for blue whales or witness wild leopards and elephants at Yala National Park. Just an hour away is the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Galle Fort, where you can wander the picturesque streets built by the Dutch in the 17th century. The fort even withstood the Boxing Day tsunami which damaged that region of Sri Lanka in 2004.

Yala National Park

Galle Fort

Tuul and Bruno Morandi / Alamy Stock Photo

One of my personal favourite trips was to the ÀNI Art Academy, founded to uplift the local community, hosting around 50 students who intensely practise the art of hyperrealism drawing. As an amateur illustrator myself, as I viewed the artwork of these students, my jaw kept dropping lower and lower. I wish I could’ve bought a piece of art by every student, their talent is utterly phenomenal.

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When is best to go to Sri Lanka?

ÀNI Sri Lanka was a truly unforgettable experience, the seclusive customised luxury paves the way for a wish-fulfilling trip of a lifetime. If you’re fortunate enough to be able to make the trip to the ÀNI resort in Sri Lanka, you definitely won’t regret it. For my first ever step on the Asian continent, this trip is going to be pretty damn hard to top. The best time of year to visit the southernmost shores of Sri Lanka is between November and April. Paradise calls.