Laila Ram is the director and co-founder of i-escape.com, a website dedicated to finding exciting and unusual places to stay in some of the world’s most beautiful and fascinating locations. Laila is something of an expert when it comes to travelling the atlas, however it’s Sri Lanka that has stolen her heart.
Best place to eat: The Gallery Café at Paradise Road in Colombo for some fantastic fusion cuisine in a wonderfully tranquil setting, a rarity in this bustling city.
Best place to drink: Afternoon tea or early evening drink at the Galle Fort Hotel in Colombo watching the sun set over the Indian Ocean.
Best place to sleep: The Wallawwa – just 15 minutes from the airport, is the perfect place to crash and recover from jet lag for the first day or two.
Best time of year to visit: All year round really except during the 2 main rainy seasons, which are from April to June and October to November.
Things to avoid: Colombo’s all day rush hour traffic! Getting from the airport to the city should be a 45-minute drive but usually ends up as a 2 or 3-hour journey – the last thing you need after a long international flight!
Off the beaten track finds: The North West of Sri Lanka is still pretty undiscovered as it has just opened up to tourism – stay at the boho-chic Bar Reef resort or camp at Dolphin Beach, Sri Lanka’s first tented hotel, and go dolphin and whale watching at Kalapitya (during season from Nov-Feb), or go leopard spotting on a camping safari in Wilpattu National Park (see Kulu Safaris).
Best outfit or fashion item for destination: I have been packing my Jean Paul Gautier Soleil maxi-dress for the past 5 years as it is so versatile and perfect for any occasion – it can be worn as a beach dress or dressed up to be evening wear and anything in-between!
Beauty tip: Buy citronella balm from any local pharmacy in Sri Lanka, which is a natural mosquito repellant – it is so much more pleasant smelling and just as effective as those horrible chemically toxic ones you get here.
Holiday packing tip: I always pack a few sarongs – which get used as a wrap, dress, towel, shawl, scarf and even blanket for the kids!
What I bought: Hand made paper notebooks made from elephant dung! Beautiful, sustainable and not smelly at all!
What I read: Brixton Beach by Roma Tearne – a moving story cleverly interweaving the events of the 7/7 bombings in London (2005) and the history of the civil war in Sri Lanka.