Sri Lanka has opened it’s international borders to welcome tourists once again with safety protocols which does not require a minimum number of days to stay. i.e. visitors to the island can stay even 3 to 4 days, but I will recommend atleast 7 days or more. It’s too much effort in terms of COVID protocol compliances to travel to Sri Lanka just for 3/4 days.
Sri Lanka offers ‘Quarantine free’ visitor experience where the visitors are allowed to enjoy all facilities in their respective hotels including the swimming pools, spas, gym etc. However the only requirement put in place for the safety of the traveller, tourism stakeholders and Sri Lankan community is the need for the travellers to stay at a ‘Safe and Secure’ certified, Level 1 hotel or hotels in the initial 14 days of their stay.
This ensures the creation of a bio-bubble for the international visitors assuring the safety of the local communities, employees of the industry and the visitors to the industry.
All visitors, prior to boarding, will have to carry a negative PCR test result from an accredited laboratory in their respective countries 96 hours before their departure. This report will be checked at the respective airport (BIA or Mattala).
Then on arrival in Sri Lanka the first of the prepaid PCR tests would be carried out on-arrival at the guest’s hotel; prior to check-in. The second PCR test would be conducted 5-7 days after, or if any symptoms should develop before.
More details in this link: Sri Lanka COVID protocols
This is a positive start, and restrictions will only ease in weeks or months to come, as the World enters Post COVID-Era with more people getting vaccinated, and breaking the spread chain with infections receding.
I have compiled below list of Sri Lanka’s Best Boutique Luxury Hotels, Villas and Retreats, which I feel were primarily hidden or unknown to the Indian outbound discerning travellers, who have always been seeking holiday refuge in long-haul destinations in Europe and the Americas.
Below selection is based on the principle of travel without crowds, wherein most of below options can be booked exclusively just for your family or group of friends, and with great value in terms of price combined with premium level of service and quality, with no compromises, and no corners cut.
Even you book some of the boutique Hotel options below on a single room basis, and not book the full property since you may be travelling as a couple or a small family, you can still be assured of physical distancing, and will be able to holiday without crowds in privacy and safety, as against in bigger resorts and hotels with hundreds of rooms.
Beach & Coastal Properties in Sri Lanka:
With nearly 1600 km of of palm fringed Coastline baked to perfection surrounding the country Sri Lanka is the ideal destination for beach lovers worldwide. Be it windsurfing, kayaking, yachting, water skiing, scuba diving or jut lazing around for the perfect tan, Sri Lanka offers it all.
The two monsoon winds providing rain to the two corners of the country at various periods, makes Sri Lanka’s beach holiday a year round prospect. The north east winds make the south western coast sunny and the sea calm from November to March. The South West winds make the East Coast waters quiet with the constant sun shine happily in agreement.
The best of the Southern beaches include Tangalla, Beruwala, Mirissa, Bentota and Unawatuna with varying options including luxury boutique hotels, glowing coral reefs, gentle sandbars and undiscovered corners of paradise.
Although Sri Lanka’s southern beaches has been long discovered by the international traveller the east coast is yet to be fully discovered. The most known among the Eastern beaches is the Arugam Bay, the high church of surfing enthusiasts’ in the region. Once a mere rumour, Uppuveli beach is also open to the sun seekers after a three decade long civil war.
Despite having a ring of sandy beaches surrounding the country, Galle Face Green, a half a kilometre stretch between Galle Road and Indian Ocean is the playground of the Colombians.
Cape Weligama is a collection of spacious villas and suites nestled within private gardens, spread across an elevated promontory overlooking the Indian Ocean, making it the idyllic south coast hideaway.
Stunning panoramas await you, naturally complementing the 39 suites & villas designed by one of Asia’s most celebrated architects, Lek Bunnag.
The Villas are set within eight gardens in the upper part of the property, comprising two or three Villas in each plus a large shared infinity edge swimming pool. The Ocean Pool Villa and Duplex Two Bedroom Cape Pool Villa enjoy private 15m pools. The Suites are located at the lower level, around the Cove Pool. They are especially well suited to families or friends travelling together.
All accommodations enjoy a large terrace with dining and in-room spa facilities, spacious walk-in wardrobes, Sonos wireless audio, handmade Ophir toiletries, a steam room & large bathrooms with twin vanities and a stone tub.
174.4 Km (2 Hrs 45 Mins) from Colombo International Airport.
Ani Villas Sri Lanka:
ÀNI Sri Lanka is a stunning 15-suites private estate (divided in 2-Villas) that combines contemporary tropical architecture with the finest bespoke finishes and furnishings. The Villa Monara has 8 suites while the Villa Divia has 7. Either of the villas can be rented separately, or the whole 15-suites (divided in 2 villas) estate can be rented at once.
The stunning property offers a private spa, oversized oceanfront pools, dedicated children’s pools with exciting waterslides, and a plethora of spaces for dining and entertainment – perfect for celebration events and family retreats.
All suites at Ani Villas come complete with en suite bathrooms and for families with younger children there are connecting twin rooms which can sleep up to three kids. Each bedroom is tasteful and modern and are all sea facing, meaning you can wake up to the sound of the lapping waves.
The property overlooks the calm swimming waters of Dickwella beach, which is protected by sandbars and reefs, and is just minutes to the sheltered bays of Hiriketiya beach, where smaller waves are perfect for surf lessons.
Stay as active or relaxed as you please, with options like aqua aerobics, beach walks, water slides, bike rides, tennis lessons, personal training, and shuffleboard. The ÀNI Sri Lanka team understands hospitality and makes every effort to ensure your stay is a transformative experience to be cherished for years to come.
3 Hrs drive from Colombo International Airport.
Karpaha Sands Kalkudah, is a boutique hotel offering luxury tents on Sri Lanka’s most stunning beach, on the East Coast. Unreachable for 30 years and Sri Lanka’s prime beach destination before the civil war, the East Coast is re-opening its doors, offering its natural and cultural treasures, including the country’s most wonderful beaches and its rich Tamil culture
This is the only resort on Kalkudah Beach, offering 17 private luxury tented suites for discerning travellers. With 15km pristine beach with endless fine sand, a beautifully curved bay and safe to swim turquoise waters, you will unwind under an ocean of swaying palm trees, watching the calm horizon and falling under the spell of what is undoubtedly Sri Lanka’s most stunning beach.
The 17 suites are housed in well-designed South African tents. There are 3 versions – beachfront Palam Suites; garden-wrapped Kolaya Suites; and larger Seed Suites, which sleep up to 5 in 2 ensuite bedrooms (1 double, 1 twin + an extra bed).
All suites offer bed and living areas, private indoor bathrooms, outdoor showers and private decks with loungers, as well as generous outdoor space. They use the highest standard fabric for the tents and all accommodation is air-conditioned and fan-cooled.
1 Hr drive from Batticaloa airport or 1.5 Hrs drive from Trincomalee airport. Both airports are connected by scheduled or chartered flights from Colombo.
By road it can take upto 7hrs from Colombo airport.
Kumu Beach is a chic, modern boutique hotel close to Balapitiya Beach on Sri Lanka’s south west coast. A short distance from Galle and close to Bentota and Hikkaduwa, there are just 10 rooms and suites here, making for a relaxing and stylish stay.
All 10 bedrooms have direct ocean views while the Ocean View Suites and Ocean View Bedrooms also open onto either private balconies or garden terraces. The rooms are spacious with a chic open plan layout, and their neutral colour palette is enhanced by colour splash contemporary batik cushions and vibrant works of modern local art.
Sea swimming is seasonal (November to April) – but the 23-metre pool compensates.
The hotel sits above a beach near Balapitiya, 30 minutes south of Bentota and an hour north of Galle. It is 130 Kms and 2.5 Hrs drive from Colombo International Airport.
Villa Ranawara, Kahandamodera, near Tangalle:
There are few villas in Sri Lanka as expansive, elegant and spectacular as Ranawara, immersed in 23 acres upon Tangalle’s easterly Kahandamodera Beach.
The house has 7 bedrooms in total, along with sophisticated living and dining areas, a fully equipped kitchen, an air conditioned home cinema and a beautiful swimming pool. Interior areas flow seamlessly onto terraces and verandas edged by pillared walkways, soft stone paving and mirror-still ponds.
All of the bedrooms enjoy the same colonial style and minimalist design. They are decorated with neutral colours, are very spacious and come with king size four poster beds. Five of the rooms can be found in the main house and for those looking for a little extra privacy then the luxury cabanas can be found in the garden. These are smaller but nicely appointed with similar furnishings to the main house.
This villa is perfect for families and groups looking for absolute privacy and tranquility. Pathways lead to a near-deserted stretch of beach where turtles often come onshore to lay their eggs by moonlight. The sandy beach stretches on for what seems like miles and is great for strolls although swimming in the sea is not possible here. Nearby is the Kalametiya Bird Sanctuary, and Yala and Udawalawe national parks are both within easy reach.
It is a 4 Hrs drive from Colombo international airport.
KK Beach opened its doors in mid-December 2016 and is a contemporary and stylish beachfront boutique hotel with 10 stunning rooms, overlooking the Indian Ocean. Located on the west side of Habaraduwa, the hotel is just 12km from Galle and the beach stretches as far as the eye can see.
All rooms are air-conditioned and have spacious en-suite bathrooms, and outdoor private terraces.
Conceptualized and decorated by renowned interior designer George Cooper who has made a name for himself globally with his first hotel Kahanda Kanda, a romantic retreat located inland of Galle. Cooper has successfully channeled his love for the island by creating KK Beach, a chic hotel along the coastline.
Minutes from KK Beach, activities abound from body surfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, bike rides through the rice fields, canoe trips, whale watching, deep sea fishing, cultural tours, boat trips on Kogalla Lake.
2.5 Hrs from Colombo International Airport.
Owl and the Pussy Cat Hotel:
OTP is a small boutique hotel with 17 unique suites placed right on the water’s edge in Thalpe.
The uniquely designed suites are distributed in 4 different and colorful buildings: the Blue, the Beige, the Pink, and the Yellow building.
The hotel’s furniture, books, colourful textiles, and artwork are the hallmark of an elegant experience in Sri Lanka. The unique pieces of art and furniture were created by more than 20 international artists and artisans from around the world.
The bespoke suites at Owl and the Pussycat Hotel are spacious, bright and carefully designed. Each unique suite is furnished with hand made and antique furniture, colourful textiles & artwork.
This beach hotel in Galle also has large en-suite bathrooms with polished concrete floors and counters. It’s a brave new experience in Sri Lanka to enjoy rough tiled balconies & terraces that overlook the ocean and leafy gardens and this makes it one of the most sought after hotels in Sri Lanka.
Perfect for those who love the coast, there is plenty of activities on offer in this area to keep you entertained including swimming with turtles, learning to fish with local stilt fishermen and an array of water sports. Alternatively, unwind by the pool with a book or enjoy a drink at the beach shack with its sociable and relaxed local atmosphere. Weekends at the Owl and the Pussycat are not to be missed with the hotel’s own live jazz band where you can dance the night away under the stars.
It is located in the town of Talpe about 2 Hrs 15 Mins drive from Colombo International Airport.
Perched upon the white sands of Kabalana Beach, Ahangama, one of the best beach stretches and surf points in Sri Lanka, The Sandhya hotel offers 9 luxuriously-appointed bedrooms and suites providing guests with an understated yet quietly sophisticated atmosphere.
The Sandhya is a design hotel and welcomes adults only.
All rooms include ocean views, with floor to ceiling glass allowing you to admire the ocean from the comfort of your bed. The stylish and simple colour palette, teak furnishings and modern decor blend well with the surrounding area and style of the property. Bathrooms are spacious and luxurious, while some include large bathtubs.
It is located 2.5 Hrs drive from Colombo International Airport.
Villa Meda Gedara:
It is located on the unspoilt south coast of Sri Lanka in a small beach village, surrounded by outstanding natural beauty, historic landmarks – including a Unesco World Heritage Site – and a vibrant local community.
Though it exudes the charms of a bygone era, Meda Gedara has all of the modern luxuries you’d expect, and is crisply decorated in beautiful dark woods with white walls and intricate tiling throughout. Within the considerable footprint of the villa and its grounds, you’ll find an infinity pool, the aforementioned waterslide, a wild sandy beach, a cinema room and a yoga pavilion, ready to make you all deliriously happy.
It offers 7 stunning bedrooms with a variety of layouts suitable for multiple families and groups of up to 20 people with large entertaining spaces for relaxing and dining.
It is 3 hrs drive from Colombo International Airport.
A single-story beachside oasis set in a wild, rugged and remote landscape. With only 30 freestanding spacious suites, each of them with their own private pool and 180-degree views of the coastline. Multiple open-air restaurants, Spa, yoga platform by the beach, library and boutique.
Designed by one of Sri Lanka’s most important architects, Geoffrey Bawa, this property combines modern comfort with traditional local materials.
In all suites the sleeping and living room are combined to provide an inviting space and feature a king size bed, writing desk, cosy armchair and a credenza with a personal bar. Sliding screens open out onto the bathroom with a free-standing bathtub, twin vanities, dressing area, shower and toilet. Four of the ocean suites share an interconnecting door on to the terrace which make them ideal for families travelling together.
All rooms face the mature coconut grove beyond which is the spectacular crescent shaped beach. There is one restaurant, overlooking the 45m swimming pool, as well as a pool terrace for al fresco dining, and a lounge for light lunches. A small beach club provides an alternative venue for lunch and private dinners.
The waters off the beach provide great snorkelling during the winter months when the sea is calmer and the hotel offers a range of nature walks to explore the beautiful local landscape. You can also go whale watching between December and April.
The car transfer from Colombo International Airport to Amanwella takes about 4-hours 30-minutes. Alternatively, Sri Lankan Airlines runs a daily Airtaxi service from BIA to Dickwella airstrip, a 15-minute drive from Amanwella. Helicopter transfers are also available from BIA.
Villa The Sandals:
The Sandals is a 5 bedroom villa set on a hillock overlooking a picturesque stretch of beach in Balapitiya on the West Coast. The Sandals is a light and airy beach villa with a Mediterranean feel edged by the turquoise seas.
This two-storey, tropical modern beach villa is designed with white washed walls and large glass windows that provides for uninterrupted sea views. Interiors are decorated with plush white sofas and contemporary local art.
The Sandals can accommodate up to 10 guests and can booked on a whole villa basis or room by room. There is a wide, 1km long virtually private beach.
Designed by Renown Architect Murad Ismail a student of the legendary Architect Geoffrey Bawa, the Villa has truly magnificent Spaces and Views. The living and dining rooms located on the ground floor open on to a long terrace overlooking the Infinity swimming pool and sea beyond.
There is also a fully equipped kitchen and a large roof top terrace for taking in the spectacular sunsets. The upper floor rooms all enjoy a long sea-view balcony. The private gardens scattered with coconut palms, leads down to the sea where swimming is possible during the season from December to May.
Located just south of Bentota, the journey from Colombo’s international airport takes about one hour and Thirty Minutes via the Southern Highway.
Villa Habaraduwa House:
Habaraduwa House is a stunning 4-bedroom beach-front villa in Habaraduwa, a coastal town next to Koggala which is home of Sri Lanka’s iconic stilt fisherman and the spectacular Koggala Lake.
Three of the rooms are on the ocean side and have fabulous views of the sea, all with king sized beds. The fourth room has twin beds, which can be pushed together to make a double.
Recently renovated, Habaraduwa House is comprised of several stand-alone buildings, centred around a large, airy living room which faces the sleek infinity-edge pool and ocean beyond. This means all the four bedrooms enjoy total privacy.
There is also an open-sided lounge used for dining which is a stylish and beautiful setting for meals and a games room complete with large plasma-screen television, table football and a card table, as well as a vast DVD library.
The property is fully air-conditioned and comes fully-staffed with a cook and two housekeepers, as well as a gardener and pool attendant. Habaraduwa House is considered to be one of the best beach villas in Galle.
The Villa does not accept children under 12, therefore it is only suitable for families with older children.
It is 2.5 hrs drive from Colombo International Airport.
Auraliya is a stylish 6-bedroom beach villa in Thalpe, just a short tuk tuk ride from Galle Fort and lively Unawatuna Bay. Two beach gates provide direct access to one of the prettiest and safest beaches on the Sri Lankan South West Coast, which boasts a protective natural reef.
The house is designed in a courtyard shape, around a beautiful turquoise swimming pool. Living and sleeping areas are separated between three large pavilions, all of which have high ceilings and terrazzo floors, giving the house an open, relaxed feel and providing a welcoming cool haven from the heat of the day.
Highlights of this villa include the air-conditioned sitting room with cable TV, an open-air dining pavilion and a small bar in a pavilion which looks out to sea – the perfect place for a sundowner.
Adjoining the villa is a large garden with frangipani trees and coconut palms, which leads down to a beach which is protected by a coral reef and offers safe swimming all year round.
The house is fully staffed: a cook, house-boy, and a night watchman will take care of you during your stay.
The beach in front of the Villa offers the safest year-round swimming and snorkeling on the South coast, Auraliya is also an especially good choice for families with children.
Numerous watersports are on offer in Unawatuna and Mirissa including sailing, fishing, coastal cruises, river trips, sea kayaking, snorkeling, and boating.
It is 2hrs and 15 mins from Colombo International Airport.
Victoria Villa is a property near Galle on Sri Lanka’s southern coast on the Thalpe beach. It has 5-bedrooms and a spacious living area with a pool and beach cabana.
Nestled beneath swaying coconut palms mere footsteps from the Indian Ocean, Victoria Villa is an understated villa designed by acclaimed Australian architect Bruce Fell-Smith.
Victoria’s extensive renovation in 2016 has brought the villa firmly into the modern age whilst sensitively retaining its important sense of history. Staffed by a small team including chef, this charming beach villa, a cherished family escape, presents modern artwork, shabby chic antiques and contemporary soft furnishings.
The Villa comes with a Chef and House Staff, a dining room, a well-equipped kitchen, with an authentic wood fire pizza oven, an additional TV Room furnished with a long sofa, flat screen satellite TV and DVD player, plus a selection of movies. Other facilities include free Wi-Fi, an iPod dock and a CD player.
All bedrooms are ensuite and offer air-conditioning.
It is located 2 hrs 15 mins from Colombo International Airport.
Taru Villas Mawella:
The hotel is positioned at the centre of Mawella’s mile-long curve of sandy beach – one of southern Sri Lanka’s prettiest and least developed coastal locales. Located well away from the main road, the bay is dotted with fishing catamarans and backed by just a sprinkling of private villas. The sea is swimmable, yet can be rough, and the beach is good for jogs and strolls.
The property offers a total of 8-Bedrooms, divided into below categories.
Surrounded by lush tropical gardens, the Main House has four double rooms while the Pool House contains two suites. Colonial in style, the chic breezy rooms feature four poster beds, air conditioning with a scattering of modern art. The master suite has its own private plunge pool.
A lounge, small bar and dining area can be found in the main house, in the latter of which you can enjoy fresh and varied cuisine, such as traditional Sri Lankan dishes, homemade pastries and just-caught seafood.
Besides this you also have choice to book the private two-bedroom Kurumba House with its own service team; reserved exclusively for those who prefer the ‘at-home’ experience. It is a completely secluded villa with its own garden, pool and service team to cater to all your needs.
Open living spaces with antique furnishings and an expansive garden paves the way to a sunny, golden Mawella Bay; protected for its shallow, gentle waters, persuades you to stay a little longer.
It is located 3 Hrs from Colombo international airport.
Villa Ishq Talpe:
Overlooking the gorgeous Indian Ocean, this villa is brimming with luxury and comfort. With open-floor plans and clean white spaces which all add a sense of calm to this villa, Ishq also manages to complement the turquoise blue seas which lie beyond.
Ishq Taple is a informal, homely and bespoke. Family owned, the villa takes its name from the Persian word for love. Located along Galle’s ‘French Riviera’,
It offers 4-bedrooms, all housed on the spacious ground floor, the villa also includes a TV room and a dining area and lounge, all skirting the inviting central pool. The well-kept garden offers 180 degree sea views and if that doesn’t lure you in, then there is always the pool table and gym on the upper floor.
The ocean inspired rooms are beautiful, spacious and made for families, friends and couples travelling together. All blend seamlessly into a coastal Sri Lankan setting; features include super king-sized bedding, plenty of storage space for adults and children, private garden patios, en-suite double indoor and outdoor rainwater showers.
Other specials for families include miniature sized bedding and furnishing for junior travellers and a private outdoor Jacuzzi lounge in the master suite, with views across the garden and ocean beyond.
All rooms include guest amenities as well as an iPad and a Bose speaker system to keep you equipped and entertained.
They have a dedicated team including an in-house chef and personal butler to deliver a friendly, informal but efficient service to meet all your needs. A personal fitness trainer, yoga instructor and an experienced pair of spa therapists are available on call.
It is 2hrs 15mins from Colombo International Airport.
Villa House 123:
Hidden away on Sri Lanka’s beautiful south coast, close to the market town of Tangalle, this secluded, modern and spacious 3-bedroom house is blessed with great looks.
Set on a bluff overlooking a palm-fringed beach and three verdant headlands, it’s all about the views here: floor-to-ceiling windows gaze out over the ocean, a terrace runs the width of the house, and an enormous 60ft infinity pool flows into the horizon.
The architect-designed house was crafted from local materials in order to blend into its natural environment. Inside, it has Japanese Zen-inspired styling. There are sleek, minimalist living spaces for dining, reading and relaxing, plus three ocean-facing bedrooms with semi-open-air bathrooms.
Furniture is bespoke and artworks are an eclectic mix of paintings and photographs bought over the years by the owners – including some of their own creations.
The beach at the bottom of the garden isn’t safe for swimming, but that’s of little concern when you have a big private infinity pool to enjoy, rock pools to examine, and Unakuruwa beach a short stroll away.
The three double bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms have both ceiling fans and AC. The rest of the house does not have AC as the ceiling fans and sea breezes provide ample cooling.
As the house and pool are all one level, it provides ease of access for guests with more limited mobility.
It is 3hrs drive from Colombo International airport.
Hill Country, Kandy and Surrounds:
The ‘Hill Country’ or ‘Up Country’ are terms broadly used to describe the mountainous regions of the centre of Sri Lanka. Covered with tea plantations and National Parks, this vast expanse is home to some of the most unique and historic accommodation in the country and the cool climate provides a beautiful contrast with the often scorching coastline.
Kandy is Sri Lanka’s second city and the capital of the so-called ‘Hill Country’. Steeped in ancient history and legend, the city is known to have one of the most favourable locations and climates in Asia. Sat majestically at the foothills of the lush mountains, the town is diverse, creative and a must-see for many visitors to Sri Lanka.
Ceylon Tea Trails, Hatton:
Ceylon Tea Trails comprises of 5 restored historic tea planter residences, called Bungalows, perched at an altitude of 1250 meters in Sri Lanka’s panoramic Ceylon tea region.
The 27 rooms & suites with period furnishings, gracious butler service, and gourmet cuisine create an ambiance that has made Tea Trails the gold standard for luxury in Sri Lanka.
Each bungalow is unique and offers guests the non-hotel, private house ambiance that is the hallmark of the award-winning Tea Trails experience. Follow the Tea Trail from one bungalow to the next, staying a night or two at each or just laze in one.
Summerville, Castlereagh and Dunkeld Bungalows overlook the Castlereagh lake, Norwood Bungalow is at the other end of the valley and Tientsin Bungalow is in the next valley.
Each Bungalow comes with its own chef, butler and houseboys and offers 5 or 6 rooms each.
The bungalows have been elegantly refurbished by interior designer Deirdre Renniers to showcase their colonial architecture. Each bungalow has a choice of 3 room types: the Luxury Rooms are the simplest (though still very comfy), the Garden Suites have verandas onto the garden and the Master Suites have a separate living area.
The flight between Colombo airport and Ceylon Tea Trails is recommended, saving drive time along winding mountain roads. A rapid 30-minute flight landing on the Castlereagh Lake at Tea Trails is a spectacular experience.
Nine Skies, Ella:
Opened in September 2018, this 5-bedroom bungalow, located near Demodera Railway Station close to Ella, dates back to the colonial era which is clearly reflected in its heritage design. Here beautiful art pieces and artefacts work seamlessly aside modern amenities, providing a unique luxury experience and home away from home feel.
The rooms open onto garden terraces blessed with wonderful views. They are stylishly furnished and have ensuite bathrooms with tubs for soaking in after scenic strolls around the tea plantations.
The homely bungalow has three rooms types. The magnificent Ella Rock Suite, has a private sitting room, direct garden access and is decadently spacious while the three double Demodera Bedrooms offer private luxury in a setting redolent of days gone by. Nine Skies Bedroom is equipped with twin beds, and since this cosy room interconnects with a Demodera Bedroom, it is ideal for families.
The villa’s location is a treat for railway enthusiasts who can arrive at nearby Demodera Railway Station, famed for its 360-degree sub-station loop, and visit the famous Nine Arches Bridge viaduct. The area is also super for getting out and about as there are a number of landmark hikes, waterfalls and viewpoints in close proximity, and the team can organise scenic picnics.
Distance to Colombo International Airport is 233km (6 Hrs drive). You can also catch a train from Colombo to Demodara Railway Station, which is a 10-minute walk from the hotel. It’s a beautiful journey – highly recommended.
Camellia Hills, Dickoya:
Camellia Hills is a luxurious 5-bedroom bungalow nestled in Sri Lanka’s tea plantations. There’s a cosy open plan lounge with fireplace, and guests can dine indoors or on an open-sided terrace to take advantage of the valley vistas. In the garden lies a 10-metre infinity swimming pool and a relaxation ambalama for absorbing the scene.
The location of Camellia Hills is exceptional, the dramatic, panoramic vistas some of the most striking and inspirational in all of Sri Lanka. It is perched on a tea-flanked hillside near Hatton overlooking Castlereagh Lake, a mirror-still reservoir, it surveys almost the entire valley and surrounding mountains.
There are just five very individual timber-floored bedrooms at Camellia Hills. Each gazes through picture windows over the Castlereagh Reservoir or the lush surrounding hills.
Bedrooms are all distinct in design and layout yet equally comfortable and luxurious. The coziest are our two Camellia Bedrooms while the three roomier Lakeview Bedrooms boast far-reaching views of the entire Castlereagh Valley from private furnished garden terraces.
Bedrooms are usually booked individually, however this boutique bungalow is small enough for groups and families requiring privacy to take the whole house for themselves on an exclusive basis too.
Colombo is the closest international airport (126km), but it’s a good 5 hour drive away so an alternative is to book a seaplane with domestic airline Cinnamon Air directly to Castlereagh Reservoir, just below the hotel (20-30 mins’ drive). Camellia Hills can organise transfers.
Thotalagala is a former 19th century plantation bungalow which has been lovingly converted into a luxurious boutique hotel in the east of the hill country.
Set in the heart of a tea plantation estate, originally planted by Sir Thomas Lipton of Lipton tea, Thotalagala enjoys spectacular views over the Hill Country and thanks to its eastern location, normally enjoys fantastic weather during June, July and August – which is unusual for Sri Lanka’s hills.
It offers 7-suites which are categorized as Junior suites and Suites each named after a planter who played an important role in promoting tea in the area
Decorated in floral prints, the bungalow’s two main lounge areas: Morning Room and Main Lounge are warm and inviting, and serve as the perfect place to browse through the many books they have with a hot cup of tea. In addition, they also have a Cigar Room, which should be explored during a spare minute or two. The bungalow also has a pool overlooking the garden and distant mountains.
It’s a five-hour drive to Thotalagala from Colombo’s International Airport.
Hill Rise, Nuwara Eliya:
Hill Rise is an exquisite 4-bedroom cottage situated opposite the amazing Lake Gregory in Nuwara Eliya. All Four bedrooms are situated on the Ground floor and open on to garden or Lake views.
Created around the concept of Horses, Stables and Horse Racing, Hill Rise is set on a manicured lawn with flowering hedges. It is a luxurious single story holiday bungalow with warm and welcoming interiors caringly created by its Sri Lankan owners.
The cottage consists of cozy living and dining areas decorated with plush sofas, and fireplaces. Breakfast is served on the Lawn facing Lake Gregory and the beautiful Hills, which lie as a backdrop to the Lake.
Wake up leisurely and take a stroll along the beautiful Lake Gregory or visit the Owners Stables in the Nuwara Eliya Race Course and watch the Horses Train, or ride a beautiful thoroughbred or play a round of golf at the nearby Nuwara Eliya golf club.
At dusk, relax with a drink by the fireplace and dine on a sumptuous dinner prepared by the in-house Chef. Hill Rise is well equipped with all modern conveniences and is rented on a villa only basis to one party at a time ensuring complete privacy.
This is an ideal holiday retreat for a family or a small group of friends travelling together. Hill Rise can accommodate up to 8 adults and four children.
It is 5 hrs drive from Colombo International Airport. There is also the convenient option of hopping on board an Air Taxi from Colombo and arriving in Nuwara Eliya within an hour. The Air Taxi lands on Lake Gregory in Nuwara Eliya exactly opposite Hill Rise.
Goatfell, Nuwara Eliya:
Perched amongst tea bushes amidst the Concordia Estate, high up on a hill near Nuwara Eliya, Goatfell is a luxurious, recently renovated 4-bedroom tea bungalow hotel. This former estate manager’s bungalow still resonates with the warmth and up country charm of a bygone era.
With gourmet food and Butler service, guests can relax on covered verandas, in the warmth of the log fired sitting room or enjoy tea field views from the infinity swimming pool.
Goatfell has three double bedrooms on each corner of the bungalow, benefitting from garden and tea country vistas. A fourth twin bedroom sits opposite one double and when booked together the two can be combined to form a family suite. Each guestroom has a private furnished terrace with direct garden access and an ensuite bathroom with a tub for warm soaks.
The bungalow sits at an elevation of 2,000-metres above sea level, on the outskirts of Kandapola and a 25-minute drive from the colonial-era hill station of Nuwara Eliya.
It is 5.5 hrs drive from Colombo International Airport. It’s also possible to get a private seaplane transfer with Cinnamon Air to Gregory Lake, 35 mins’ drive below the hotel.
Santani Wellness Resort & Spa, Kandy:
Santani Wellness Resort is set in a lush forest on a vast, former tea plantation, offering 20 Chalets (16 Mountain View Chalets and 4 Garden View Chalets).
The Mountain View Chalets are chic and sophisticated and the rooms offer spacious balconies with recycled teakwood safari chairs to gaze at exquisite views of the mountains beyond. Sink into lavish beds with 100% cotton high thread count sheets, and extra-large pillows, and enjoy tea and coffee making facilities, a personal safe and two closets.
The Garden View Chalets are ideal for families and are located near gorgeous paddy fields and tea plantations. Two chalets are connected through a common opening and all chalets have glass walls providing spectacular views of the verdant greenery. Tuk Tuk shuttles are available for guests to be transported around the estate.
Santani has sealed its reputation as one of the best spas in Sri Lanka by providing a personalised, top-quality experience for their guests. Specialising in Detox, Anti-Ageing and Weight Loss, each retreat begins with a consultation with the Ayurvedic doctor who then creates a programme designed to maximise the benefits of the stay. A personalised fitness plan is also implemented throughout your stay with optional outdoor activities available, including mountain biking, trekking and kayaking in the Hulu River.
No children under 12 are allowed due to the tranquil nature of the resort. Families with older children are welcome.
Colombo is the closest international airport (140km or 4.5 hrs’ drive); an alternative is to fly with domestic airline Cinnamon Air to Kandy’s Polgolla Reservoir Airport (1 hr’s drive from the hotel).
Chatsworth, a real British country house built in the colonial style is a creation of Lord Blackler. A 20 Acre working Tea Estate, in the little town of Pupuressa, Chatsworth is a little island of tea surrounded by thousands of Acres of Tea Plantations, waterfalls and breath taking views.
With uninterrupted views of mountains and valleys a hundred kilometres and beyond, simply sit on the huge terrace and watch the play of the weather, or take a walk through the Estate and watch how tea pluckers engage in their centuries old trade.
Chatsworth is home to 6-bedrooms and each has ample space for lounging, furnished with twin-sized beds, king-sized poster beds and a mix of plush ottoman chairs and sofas for a restful holiday.
Every one of the bedrooms are furnished charmingly with floral curtains and beddings, vintage table and ceiling lamps, a fireplace is even equipped in some of the rooms, bringing out the most authentic English accents.
The master bedroom is connected to the outdoor balcony with al fresco garden seating that overlooks the surrounding hilly terrain, perfect for a lovely tea time with freshly brewed tea from the nearby plantations. You can request for breakfast in either continental or a la carte style to be served into the room as each room has a dedicated and intimate dining area, breakfast in bed is the way to go!
Ensuite bathroom accompanies each bedroom, each are spacious and complete with luxurious amenities.
It is 4hrs drive from Colombo International Airport.
This boutique hotel is an ancestral manor house which was built in 1804 and its rich history and exquisite restoration, with 9-Bedrooms to choose from. At this Kandy hotel the aim is to give guests an experience of staying in a more private house which is also ideal for a honeymoon.
The building that houses the uniquely designed bedrooms overlooks the large jungle pool with infinity views of the paddy fields and the sprawling tree in the garden is light up in the evening to making it a perfect boutique hotel for honeymoon.
The largest are the 4 Ultra Rooms. These include spacious Peacock Royal and Red Spot Duke, which both open onto the wide veranda surrounding the outside of the house.
There’s also the beautiful Black Rajah Garden Suite, with a private massage area and octagonal double bath set in the middle of the room. When booked together with the small adjoining twin room (Monkey Puzzle), it’s ideal for families with older children.
The 5 slightly cheaper Deluxe Rooms are set around the large 2-storey central courtyard. Of these, Monkey Puzzle and Pioneer (a turquoise-hued room with its own swing seat in the garden) have twin beds, while Sunbeam, Lime Butterfly and Cornelian have double beds. These rooms are a bit smaller, darker and less secluded than the Ultras.
The hotel is a short drive from the ancient lakeside city of Kandy, Sri Lanka’s cultural and religious heart. Visit the Temple of the Tooth, stroll around the nearby Botanical Gardens, or follow your nose into the hills, past tea plantations, old colonial mansions, paddy fields and temples
Only accepts children over 12 years old.
It is 3.5 Hrs drive from Colombo International Airport.
Situated on a hill, at an elevation of 80 meters, visitors to Clingendael will relish the breathtaking view over the reservoir and Victoria dam. If golf is your game, the 18 hole championship golf course with the spectacular Knuckles mountain range as the backdrop, is a treat on Clingendael’s doorstep.
Clingendael is a large home built in a Dutch Sri Lankan style with materials dating back to 1782. Tastefully furnished by its present owners, Clingendael offers 5 large, well-appointed bedrooms, spacious wrap around verandas and colonnades, and a manicured garden with an infinity pool overlooking the mountains and the reservoir.
The five air-conditioned suites are individually styled and named both in Dutch and color-coded in English for easy reference.
It is 4hrs drive from Colombo’s International Airport. You also have option of Sri Lankan Airlines 15-seater Air Taxi service to Kandy’s Polgolla Reservoir. From Polgolla Clingendael is just an eight-kilometre drive to the hotel.
The Hermitage Kandy:
Seeped in history and built in the quintessential Kandyan fashion, The Hermitage, is a 3-bedroom serene retreat on the edge of the famous Victoria Reservoir near Kandy, Sri Lanka. The hotel is a luxury getaway for those who wish to rediscover themselves amid surroundings that are as natural as they get.
Built by world renowned architect Channa Daswatte and Interiors ably designed by Thanuj Guanawardene, the property has been designed in a manner that every room and living space has breath-taking views of the Reservoir and the Misty mountains beyond.
Every one of the three rooms in the property has been specially designed and equipped with all modern Amenities to ensure maximum Luxury. All bedrooms are furnished with supersized king beds luxury. The property also has a spa and an Infinity pool which seemingly spills into the abundant forest.
The property is located only eleven kilometres from the historic and cultural city of Kandy, and it’s only a 15-minute drive from the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic.
It is 3.5 Hrs drive from Colombo International Airport.
The Cultural Triangle:
The ‘Cultural Triangle’ is the area roughly between Kandy in the south, Anuradhapura to the north-west and Polonnaruwa in the east. It was the cradle of the ancient irrigation civilisation of Sri Lanka that flourished 2,500 years ago. A wonderful region to visit, an abundance of spectacular monuments span a period of 1,700 years and they are all in close proximity to one another.
Ulagalla Resort, Anuradhapura:
A boutique hotel with a touch of traditional elegance and aristocracy, offers you a unique experience of luxury amidst a natural, remote, and uninhabited environment.
A gem amongst the Anuradhapura hotels, it is nestled in a sprawling 58-acre lush green garden with a 150-year-old mansion at its centre, rich with cultural heritage and historical significance. Interposed within this natural habitat, there are 25 villas with private pools, cautiously designed and built to maintain the ecological balance of the surroundings.
It is a 30 minute drive to the archaeological sites in Anuradhapura and an hour away from the great rock fortress of Sigiriya, now a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The accommodations are simply exquisite and are among the most luxurious villas in Sri Lanka. Your very own ‘villa’, your royal abode, comes with a king-sized bed, cosy sofas, wooden floors, and spacious terraces to create an atmosphere of pure luxury and extravagance.
You have a choice of 25 Pool Villas, each its own sanctuary. There are 19 stilted chalets, 5 pool villas and one unit of 2-bedroom villa. The views from within are breathtaking – you have a choice of awe-inspiring views of lush green paddy fields, the neighbouring jungle which teems with life, or a tranquil lake with its inviting waters.
It is 3.5 Hrs drive from Colombo International Airport. Alternatively Anuradhapura domestic airport is 25km from the hotel (a half-hour drive). Connecting flights leave daily from Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo. Uga Ulagalla can be reached directly by Helicopter where guest can land at the resort’s own helipad.
Kalundewa Retreat, Dambulla:
A small boutique hotel, made up of 9-chalets and a 3-bedroom bungalow, surrounded by picturesque mountains and lakes, makes Kalundewa Retreat a perfect base for exploring the cultural triangle.
The modern chalets and bungalow are fully air-conditioned and have been designed with luxurious comfort in mind.
The chalets and the bungalow can be booked by the room or on exclusive basis. The original chalet enjoys near-panoramic views of the calm lake and paddy, is accessible by raft (depending on the time of year) or footpath.
They are fully staffed, and meals prepared by the in-house chef can be enjoyed anywhere on the grounds.
TIP: Honeymooners and romantics should opt for the secluded Kumbuk Chalet, or the Nil Manel Floating Villa, which have their own living and dining area, a balcony with a Jacuzzi plunge pool and panoramic views across the lake.
Kalundewa offers the ideal base for exploring the local World Heritage Sights of the Dambulla Cave Temples, Sigiriya Rock Fortress and the ancient city of Polonnaruwa.
It is set just outside Kalundewa village, in 100-acre farmland. The area is rural and remote: a tapestry of orchards, lakes and mountains.
Colombo’s Bandaranaike International Airport is around 140km away (a four-hour drive).
Water Garden Sigiriya:
Water Garden Sigiriya is an oasis of natural beauty in the heart of The Cultural Triangle, inspired by the ancient water gardens of Sigiriya. Expect luxury in a very open and natural setting with the mountainous Sigiriya Rock Fortress as your backdrop.
The Hotel is a modern take on the 2,000 year old water garden found at the ancient ruins. Designed by renowned architect Channa Daswatte, this luxury hotel is as much about the views as it is the interiors.
Spread across 35 acres, each villa has been carefully styled in keeping with its setting. There are 30 villas in total divided into three categories. The superior Deluxe Room and the Duplex Villas in particular are a perfect choice as they feature a private plunge pool. The Duplex Villa is ideal for larger groups or families.
TIP: The 4 Duplex Villas also have plunge pools and sleep up to 5 in 2 bedrooms (a ground-floor twin and a first-floor king). They also have roof terraces with views of Sigiriya.
Most people fly into Colombo Bandaranaike international airport (146km) and then connect to Sigiriya’s domestic airport, which is 15-minute’ drive away from Water Garden. The domestic flight route is serviced by Cinnamon Air.
Alternatively it is 4.5 hrs drive from Colombo International Airport.
Jetwing Vil Uyana, Sigiriya:
Jetwing Vil Uyana is an eco-friendly luxury hotel with a difference.
It is built on 28 acres of manmade wetland system, comprising lakes and reed beds, to create a private nature reserve that is teeming with birds, and wildlife.
Elegant dwellings are built on over water, marshland, paddy fields, or woodland, and are constructed out of sustainable materials to form a delightful synergy with the Sri Lankan landscape.
The hotel is the flagship property in the architectural portfolio of renowned environmental designer Sunela Jayawardane, and it is not hard to understand why Jetwing Vil Uyana has won multiple international accolades for sustainable initiatives and conservation.
Each of the 36 freestanding dwellings at Jetwing Vil Uyana are named after and inspired by the natural habitat that surrounds them and have been built with sustainable local materials including woven reeds and rattan for an atmosphere of natural elegance, complemented by a number of modern amenities to suit the discerning contemporary traveller.
In addition to plush luxury bathtubs, each dwelling also features the standard essentials of air conditioning, satellite TV with an accompanying DVD player, a mini bar, as well as tea and coffee making facilities along with a high-end BOSE Home Entertainment System in all but the Garden Dwellings.
Wide-open natural spaces provide plenty of room for exploration, while night trails, wildlife watching and birding tours are just some of the experiences that will be waiting just outside your door.
The hotel also provides a multitude of fantastic dining options alongside a well-equipped gym and beautiful island spa offering Ayurvedic treatments, and even hosting an in-house Ayurvedic doctor to ensure that you achieve the peak of relaxation after a busy day exploring the grounds.
It is 4.5 hour’s drive from Colombo International Airport.
Yala National Park:
Yala National Park is Sri Lanka’s second largest park. Located on the southeastern tip of
the country, it is bordered by the sea on two sides of it and surrounded by local villages
on the other. The area was declared a national park in 1939 and it occupies almost 1,000
square kilometers divided into five blocks each with its own vegetation and characteristics
although only two are open to the public, block 1 and 5. Block 1 is the most popular and
crowded and it is where most day trippers head to, whereas block 5 is one hour away
from the main area where the majority of the hotels and day jeeps for hire are.
The park’s vegetation has forests, scrubs, grasslands, lagoons and everything in between.
There is even a reservoir within the park. Although its 44 mammal species and 215 birds
are all protected today, the park was originally the hunting grounds for the British elite
during colonial times.
Perhaps what has made Yala so famous is its high concentration of leopards, the highest
in the world, thanks to the fact that they have no natural predators and, as a result, they
are more easily seen parading their beautiful coats around the park, day and night,
without the fear of being attacked.
Yala is best visited between February and July when the park is drier and the wildlife congregates near waterholes. The park closes every year from July to October start and end dates to be determined when the weather patterns change into the rainy season.
Wild Coast Tented Lodge:
Wild Coast Tented Lodge is adjacent to Yala National Park, renowned for its leopard population. This spectacular luxury tented camp is situated on a rugged, empty beach, overlooking the Indian Ocean.
The 28 canvas tents, either Cocoon or Urchin, have been designed around five waterholes in a clever layout of a leopard’s paw. Watch the wildlife flock here from your very own private viewing deck. Inside each tent has air conditioning and understated earthy tones. Choose a Pool Cocoon which offers a private plunge pool, whilst for families, a Cocoon tent with adjoining Urchin tent provides ample space for all.
The open-air bamboo-clad Ten Tuskers bar and Dining Pavilion – designed to mirror the boulders scattered across the golden beach beyond – wrap around the resort’s enormous free-form swimming pool. Guests can enjoy creative daily-changing menus of authentic Sri Lankan cuisine in the restaurant, as well as sundowner cocktails and picnics al fresco on the sand dunes, watching dusk settle over the Indian Ocean.
Fly into Colombo’s Bandaranaike International Airport. From there it’s a 5 Hrs drive. You can also a 45-minute domestic flight from Colombo to Hambantota. From there, Wild Coast is just a 1-hour drive away.