Just inland from Wijaya Beach in Thalpe there's a beautiful, huge and somewhat magical house called Piero. It's gets a bit hot but it's a large house with wonderful design and real character. It's available for $70 a night for two people (About Rs. 9,000), via Airbnb.
The scene keeps moving down the coast, from Hikkaduwa to Unawatuna to Thalpe to Mirissa. In places close to Colombo, prices and occupancy keep going up, and affordable character and charm generally decline. Enter Airbnb. This global room/house letting startup has hit Sri Lanka in a big way and there are a lot of gems available there, from people outside the traditional hotel industry. That's how we found the Artists Residence - Piero House.
The house is very big and very nice. It actually has beds enough to sleep six comfortably and crash space for more, but as each guest over two is $50, it makes the most sense for two people. At that rate it's a ton of space.
When we arrived we first hung out in the lofted chill spot above the garden (very cool).
To get there you go up these lovely stairs, decorated with Frida Kahlo paintings, which leads to a small room with pretty good books and magazines, including some fashion catalogs that feature the house.
The bathroom is another highlight. It's open and has beautifully deteriorating walls.
Besides that there's a dining table looking over the garden which is wonderful for writing/working at and a big living area with couches.
Then there are two proper bedrooms. We apologize as we only photographed the second one, sleeping in the other (bigger) room. Both have four post beds.
As you can see, for two people you get a ton of space. The decorations and construction are all really creative, and it is truly a good space for artists - for working, thinking, conversing, chilling out. Actually a magically environment.
The main drawbacks are that it's hot and none of the rooms have ceiling fans (there are pedestal fans upstairs). At night it's OK but during the day it's quite hot.
You can take a cold shower now and then (there didn't seem to be hot water)
. There is hot water, you just have to find it and turn it on. Those are the drawbacks, it's a wonderful, creative space, but it lacks some of the creature comforts of less hip abodes.
The basic comfort, however, is a good bathroom, and they have that. If you have a comfortable bathroom everything else is OK.
This place is a house which they rent out when they're not there. The caretaker Raj is pretty cool and there's an adorable puppy. Raj handles most everything and makes a pretty solid roti, purippu and pol sambol breakfast. He speaks good English and has an impressive mustache.
The owner, Souhaine, was pretty accessible via phone and responds to Airbnb requests within about a day.
One thing we will note is that checkout times seem to be lax. We were told to come at 11 AM and the people from the night before still hadn't left, and didn't leave till 3. On the Airbnb comments someone also said that the owner came and stayed the night they were staying, which we'd say isn't cool. When you're there it's nice to have privacy and the run of the house. We're assuming that doesn't happen now.
Piero House is a bit hard to find but, we've tried to improve the directions here. After Wijaya Beach you turn left and head inland. It's down a lane about 2.3 km down. This is fine if you're driving (though the actual road is probably to steep unless you have a jeep). It actually makes the most sense if you rent a bicycle from the shop down the same road. The main landmark on the road is the big Dog Care Clinic.
Once you get there, which can be frustrating (see our directions). It feels isolated, but you can still see and hear people who also live down the tiny lane. In the broader scheme, it's a short bike ride down to some great eats in Thalpe and a reasonable distance from Unawatuna. You can also get to Mirissa in about 25 minutes by bus or car.
The Piero House in Thalpe truly is an artists residence. It's a magical space, creatively decorated and an ideal retreat for writers, artists, or general creatives. It's bikable distance to good restaurants in Thalpe and swimmable beach and you get a big space for around Rs. 9,000 (double).
Go for the character and the charm, if you can deal with a bit of hot and dusty.