Walking into the grove I met two kindred nomadic spirits at Palm Hotel. Miriam and Laurie left Shoreditch and their East-London life and moved to an inland nook, just 10 minutes from the surf, in Sri Lanka in 2018 bringing their sustainable contemporary design ethic with them.
This uprooting of London design and rewilding it in amongst the palm trees mirrors my own move from the UK to Goa almost 10 years ago. When I’m back in London I spend most of my time in a remodeled warehouse environment at Fumie’s East London studio.
I was drawn to Palm because they beautifully fuse an urban aesthetic into a coconut palm strewn landscape. It is the perfect backdrop for a FARA shoot.
I love their double-height dining and chill-out pavilion as it borrows from Shoreditch warehouse conversions and uses cleverly remodelled shipping containers and lots of glass for intimate views of the palm grove.
I spent many a moment suspended in the cane-crafted hanging chairs outside the pavilion imagining bringing this aesthetic to my own Goa home.
And yet there is still an echo of Sri Lanka’s past and art history which I found inspiring. Even with its London urban spin, Palm still echoes the tropical modernism of architect Geoffrey Bawa and his beautiful Lunaganga estate that also has large double-height windows, expanses of green and collections of antiques. Geoffrey Bawa was also the architect behind the stunning Gallery Café in Colombo – one of my favourite places in the city – a tropical urban oasis.
My room was an A-Frame cabana with a floor to ceiling glass window to peek out at the coconut grove which juxtaposed the modern white interiors. These polished concrete, steel and glass A-frames are so different to the typical Colonial style buildings of southern Sri Lanka and also felt very different to my Portuguese style house in Goa… Although the floaty white fabric interiors, woven-bamboo lights and rattan chairs are reminiscent of my little Casita in beachside Goa. We were never far from the natural world – my daughter Ruby loved the open-air bathroom.
Palm was the backdrop and creative inspiration for my Sri Lanka shoot an as I sipped my morning coffee, I looked out through this giant window to the palm grove and pictured our model Asia framed within.
Sometimes water buffalo stroll by. It was like a still of a movie and I was an audience of one watching to see if a peacock would appear.
I loved the dusky pink walls around the pool contrasting with the expansive blue sky and pictured our girl Asia wearing the soft Blue Moon Tie-Dye Lana Dress.
During the shoot Asia went out into the palms, hiding behind massive banana leaves. In some shots she is like a painting framed by the large windows of Palm Hotel and in others she is surrounded by tropical foliage like a Frida Kahlo self portrait.
In Sri Lanka the jungle meets the sea – Palm is tucked inland at Nakanda a quick 10 minute zip from the coast and the surf.
In the late afternoons, I would slip towards the sea to catch sunset and surf vibes at Ahangama which is popular with surfers and creatives.
Palm is perfect in every aspect: vibes, location, and comfort. I felt inspired there and perfectly at home. The creative vibes flowed from Miriam and Laurie’s stunning creation and I look forward to returning soon to enjoy the beautiful space and explore the area even more!
BOOK YOUR STAY AT PALM HERE
PHOTOGRAPHY ASHEN DE SYLAW + RAMI SABBAN
HAIR + MAKE UP JO PRIESTLY