Aathma Colombo House: One of the Quirkiest Boutique Hotels in Colombo
Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Aathma Colombo House is a modern boutique hotel full of quirks and character. Laid back, playful and thoroughly unconventional, it aims to delight and de-stress in equal measure. Tricks up their sleeve include stunning Sri Lankan cuisine, a wonderful staff team and a vast, eclectic collection of artwork that draws inspiration from across the globe.
Traffic permitting, Colombo city can be reached in 20 minutes. But despite being within touching distance of the bustling commercial hub, Aathma still manages to offer a calming, spacious retreat.
Co-owner Dushy Kumar initially built the property as a home for her family. Now, it’s a 10-room lakeside paradise for travellers to enjoy. Decked out in Dushy’s unique style, most of décor you’ll see here has been custom-made, customised, or collected on one of her adventures around the world. As she says herself, ‘Welcome to my madness!’
This one was a solo mission – quality time to reset, recharge and revitalise. No, I didn’t get that off a shampoo bottle.
The word tranquillity comes to mind, but this isn’t your average R&R destination – the kaleidoscopic mosaics and front-seat view of local wildlife mean there’s a wealth of things jostling for your attention. Luckily, this doesn’t dampen the luxurious charm it exudes thanks to the care and attention of its passionate owners.
Doubles start from £89, which includes a traditional Sri Lankan or ‘western’ breakfast option. Only go for the latter if you’re so overwhelmed by Aathma’s splendour that you need some bread and jam to bring you back down to earth.
Where You’ll Stay
There is such diversity in this hotel’s décor. Walking into Aathma House, you’re greeted with bursts of colour that wouldn’t be out of place in a grand Jaipurian palace. But look a little closer, and you’ll see the European influence in Dushy’s collections, no more so than in the Gaudi-like broken tile mosaics that sprawl across the complex. Inspiration from East Asia isn’t far behind, with Buddhist statues, mandalas, conical hats and Chinese paintings also competing for appreciation.
The fascinating mix of artwork and antiques compliments all the necessary modern architecture and styling that you’d find in other high-quality hotels, such as sliding doors and large open spaces that allow air to circulate around the building.
Inside My Room
On my first night I checked in to the Kavya Room, which is nestled in the hotel’s garden, and provides stunning views of the surrounding tropics. Ideal for the solo traveller or those on a budget, you get everything you paid for and more.
The Rajkumari Suite is where I spent my second night at Aathma House. Featuring an upper mezzanine floor with an additional king size bed, it’s perfect for families or groups. Enjoy panoramic views of the sunset over Diyawanna Lake from the two balconies, or soak in the giant whirlpool tub or hidden rainfall shower after a day of exploring. End the day by sinking into your four poster bed, draped in beautiful green linen, and marvel at the individual colour schemes, fabrics and furnishings unique to your room. Makes your stay all the more special.
The Kavya Room
The Rajkamari Suite
The drink and dining options are outstanding, with high quality, locally sourced ingredients. The menu combines family favourites and delectable Sri Lankan specialties. Start the day with fresh fruit before tucking into dhal curries, egg hoppers and topping it all off with freshly ground coffee so you don’t miss a minute.
Also, I lied about the bread and jam – the European menu is excellent, with everything from classic sausage and eggs to tropical pancakes. There’s something for everyone!
Beat the heat in the picturesque pool overlooking the lake, and then dry off and unwind on one of the poolside loungers. Watch monkeys swing through the trees and parrots call out to each other in the canopy above them.
Free safari boring you? Turn your back on the show and curl up with an arty book in one of the cosy crannies dotted around the property. Still unsatisfied? Sounds like you need a massage, my friend. Flowery towels and intense euphoria included.
Things I loved
The five star service. The staff and management team are always on hand to help, and nothing is too much trouble. Shortly after arriving, I broke my tripod. Disaster, or so I thought, until the head of guest relations not only called round local repair shops to find the right sized screw for me, but also ensured it would be delivered by the evening. What a guy.
All the exotic birds you’ll see on the property have been rescued by Dushy. Makes their morning calls so much sweeter!
The ethos of creative sustainability. Broken items and artefacts aren’t thrown away at Aathma – quite the opposite actually. There’s always a space in Dushy’s collection for a repurposed piece of art – when the flowers in her hair bands started to fall off, she used them to customise a new hat, which now sits as a statement piece in one of the suites.
Things To Know
Tuk Tuks are a great way to get in and out of the city centre, but at peak traffic times this can take up to an hour, the same as in a car. To ensure a smooth journey, download online taxi apps Uber and PickMe to whisk you off to Colombo’s shops, museums and temples.
Guides and directories come with every room, so if you do fancy venturing out, you won’t be going in blind.
Couples, friends, solo travellers and families. Basically anyone who can appreciate calm, colour and creativity. If you’re dreary and grey, stay away.
Aathma house is an absolute masterpiece – and when you can see Dushy’s personality shining through in everything around you, it makes it all the more special. Combine that with the excellent service, and you’ll struggle to drag yourself away from this supremely calm and nourishing space. A day trip to Colombo may tempt you, yes – but good luck trying to leave.
about the author
Hi! I’m Maz, born and raised in London. After working in finance for 5 years, I was left craving a life with more meaning and less monotony - so I decided to set up my hotel reviewing business, something I'd always dreamt of doing. Now I am always in search of beautiful spaces which inspire people and create memorable experiences.