A beachside suburb of Colombo, Mount Lavinia is said to have been named after Sri Thomas Maitland’s lover, a Portuguese- Sinhalese local dancer named Lovina. Maitland, who saved as Governor General of Ceylon from 1805- 11, established a residence in this area in 1806. Legend maintains that a tunnel connected the building to Lovina’s house so the lovers could meet in secret. The building was lived in and expanded by successive governors until it was converted into the Mount Lavinia Hotel in the late 19th century.
The imposing Colonial hotel, poised on a small promontory, towers over the beach and attracts many visitors, especially foreigners, to Mount Lavinia. The hotel has maintained its old-world charm despite modernization. There are excellent views across the sea from here, which can be enjoyed over an evening drink.
Mount Lavinia is a good, laid-back alternative to the bustle of Colombo. The beach is decent but can get particularly busy at weekends and holidays, when locals decent for the day. The sea is not great for swimming, but it is possible to watch the fishermen preparing to cast their nets. There are also a number of beachside bars and restaurants. Visitors are advised to exercise caution when walking back to their hotel after dark.