I regard the advice of locals above that of everyone else. So, when Jessica and Josie Fernando, the founders and designers of Kinsfolk, recommended Talpe Beach and Ella, I ripped up my original itinerary for Sri Lanka and took their advice. The Sri Lankan-Swiss Fernando sisters grew up traveling between Sri Lanka and Switzerland and created Kinsfolk to honor their heritage and both countries through design.
From the airport, I went directly to Talpe Beach Restaurant and Bar, a charming beachside restaurant near Galle that rents a handful of rooms. Talpe Beach is owned by a woman named Ulricke and her husband, who have lived all over the world and moved two years ago to Sri Lanka, where Ulricke was born. As Jessica promised, the food was delicious, the location was great and the price was very reasonable (about 80USD per night). Except for dinners at Wijaya Beach and Kingfisher, I spent most of my time in Talpe Beach.
I spent two days beachside with the Fernando sisters and their photographer, Mirjam Kluka, who was in town to shoot Kinsfolk's new line. We discussed politics, business and fashion over dinners, wine, and tanning. For Kinsfolk, the Fernando sisters design jewelry and scarves, which are handmade by artisans in Sri Lanka. I fell in love originally with the Kinsfolk scarves, which sold out last season and are only available to purchase in Switzerland and Sri Lanka. I plan to stock up during my next visit to Switzerland.
After Talpe Beach, I traveled to Ella to see the tea plantations, stopping at temples along the way. Ulricke and the Fernando sisters recommended 98 Acres Resort, which unfortunately sells out months in advance. So, I stayed at Ella's Edge Resort, a hotel built on the side of a mountain overlooking Ella Gap, also recommended by Ulricke.
Ella, though cooler (temperature-wise) than Talpe, was no less relaxing. But of course drinking tea in the mountains while learning about its harvesting is relaxing. All and all a great trip - thank God I destroyed my original temple-hopping itinerary and followed Jessica and Josie's advice.