The fabulous Mudhouse eco hideaway in Sri Lanka charms and delights in equal measure

Mail Online, the mostly widely read English-language news website on the planet, is effusive about Sri Lanka’s fabulous Mudhouse, a real back-to-basics eco experience.

‘Welcome to Club Mud! No tour of stunning Sri Lanka is complete without a stay in VERY traditional, off-the-grid accommodation’.

‘The Mudhouse’s ‘hideaway’ lodges are Sri Lanka’s most indulgent and memorable off-the-grid destination’.

Writes Rory Maclean, for The Mail On Sunday: “‘On that first boozy evening in 1999 we had no idea what we would end up creating,’ laughs Tom Armstrong, The Mudhouse owner. ‘I simply needed a drink.’

“‘People thought we were crazy,’ recalls Ranjith Kumar, his bubbly business partner. ‘Especially when we decided to move out of town and into the jungle. They called us the ‘Tarzans’.'”

Many beers and two decades later…

Says Rory: “Many beers and two decades later, The Mudhouse—a collection of ‘hideaway’ lodges designed by Kumar and tucked away in one of the island’s most secret corners—must be Sri Lanka’s most indulgent and memorable off-the-grid destination.”

He writes how Tom, Kumar and their mates “mucked in to clear the bush and to shape trunks and beams, using coconut-fibre rope to raise the thatched palm roof above a smooth mud floor”.

Says Kumar: “Nothing has changed since those early days. It’s still all about privacy, respect and self-sufficiency. We don’t use the term ‘eco-lodge’. We call it a community tourism venture. We have never been driven by profit.’

Bamboo bucket seats swing beneath beams and rafters

None of the five mudhouses has mains electricity or wi-fi, while hammocks and bamboo bucket seats swing beneath beams and rafters, inviting an appreciation of life.

Outdoor showers are surrounded by aloe vera and birdsong, and guests bicycle between the open-air restaurant, yoga hut and kayak lake along winding jungle paths and over bamboo bridges.

All furniture is made by hand on site, and parts of the 50-acre property are now cultivated, supplying the kitchen with organic produce during years when rains are good.

Gloriously Sri Lankan spicy chicken and vegetable curries

But it’s the food that is the real star, “gloriously Sri Lankan: spicy chicken and vegetable curries, delicious dhal, mango and papaya fruit plates, crepe-like ‘hoppers’ and banana pancakes”.

Afternoon tea is brought to guests in their light and airy huts – today curry-leaf tea with ginger jaggery (cane sugar), tomorrow a smoky herbal blend picked for its medicinal and Ayurvedic properties.

Leftovers are fed to the animals and exotic birds, ensuring nothing goes to waste, which goes hand-in-hand with the pair’s passion to revive traditional skills, and in the process revitalised the rural community.

Says Tom: “We put huge care and attention into every booking,’ says Tom, explaining that any profit is pumped back into the community. ‘It’s obvious to guests where their money goes.”

Read more here.

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