The Luxe List 2010, Sri Lanka: Villa Bentota, Galle Road Bentota

Located off the coastal road between Colombo and Galle, this 1880s colonial villa was first revamped in the early 1970s by the founder of tropical modernism, Geoffrey Bawa. Now, thanks to local design maestro Shanth Fernando, the place revels in a chic, 21st-century style that incorporates antique Dutch chandeliers, Jaffna folk art, and Chinese ceramics. None of the 15 guest rooms are identical; one suite boasts a private plunge pool, while another (No. 4) has a sprawling sea-facing balcony. Unwinding comes easy here, but for those in need of extra relaxation there’s a bijou Ayurvedic spa, where the herb-infused hot-sand massage is a standout. Meals (wood-oven pizza, tandoori chicken with avocado salsa, wasabi-crusted salmon) can be taken poolside, on the sprawling lawn, or in the minimalist open-air dining pavilion. Don’t let the occasional sound of a passing train put you off; just across those tracks is Bentota Beach, a beckoning stretch of soft sand and cerulean water.

138/18–138/22 Galle Rd.; 94-34/227-5311;; doubles from US$249

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