Santani Wellness, Kandy. Is this the world’s best health retreat?

The sound of low continuous chanting drifted into earshot from a nearby Buddhist temple rousing me from sleep at some time close to 5am, and in turn, enveloping the valley below. Since I’d left the blinds open in my bedroom, as I always do when I’m away, I was immediately struck by the pre-sunrise light, a moody pale blue-grey sky, mist rising through the mountain layers, and an almost full moon glowing in the distance.

Trills and chirps of frogs and cicadas mingled with the solacing chants, then suddenly melodious birdsong erupted like Tambora: life was everywhere, literally vibrating around me. If my stay at Santani Wellness comprised only this utterly joyous morning, I’d have been content. But happily, more intoxicating joy was to come.

Since the previous night, before arriving at Santani, was spent mostly being charged at by a huge steely cockroach — in the bathroom of my questionable Kandy Airbnb — Santani’s serene, spotless and expansive mountain suites felt even more welcoming.

My mountain view chalet (number 11) had a high shine, polished concrete floor that instantly reminded me of Bermondsey’s White Cube Gallery. Warm underfoot, it felt smooth and grounding. A few pieces of simple, yet elegant dark wood furniture sat at the foot of my four-poster bed, and in a terracotta dish, a solitary blue lotus flower, known as Nil Manel in Sinhala, slowly opened and closed as the days came and passed.

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