I could name this guide “A list of the best hotels in Sri Lanka by a former local” or maybe “ by a frequent traveller to Sri Lanka” or even “by a wife of a local”. All of these fit, but what you should know is that I’ve lived in Sri Lanka for a while and then continued to travel to the island almost every year for the past 14 years. I’ve stayed in a great many hotels as you might imagine and I would like to share my favorite ones with you. 

Another thing I want to mention is that the hotels on this list are mostly in the mid- to high-end range. As I first moved to Colombo at 22, I earned approximately 300$ per month and stayed in budget hotels that cost 20$ a night (I would share the room with a friend to make it even more affordable). However, almost 15 years and 2 kids later, I do value my comfort. So if you are looking for budget hotels in Sri Lanka, unfortunately, I am not familiar with the current offers on the market. But if you are in search of a gorgeous boutique hotel with exceptional service and delicious food for your honeymoon, a family trip, or even a solo vacation, I have a few (dozen) suggestions for you!

This list is mostly combined of the hotels I personally stayed in and loved. There are also a few hotels that I visited for lunch, drinks, or weddings, but haven’t spent the night. Lastly, there are a few hotels that I haven’t visited at all, but feel confident I can recommend them because my family members or close friends stayed there and loved the experience. If that’s the case, I mention it in the description. I paid in full for all of my stays, none of them were comped, so all opinion are truly my own.

Lastly, the links in this post are affiliate links which means if you book the hotel I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. This is how I can continue publishing free content on this blog. If you find this (and many other guides I have on Sri Lanka helpful), please consider booking through one of the links below. I greatly appreciate your support of my work! Now let’s dive in!

Jump straight to the hotels in







Unawatuna and Thalpe






Sigiriya and Dambulla

Kandy and Surroundings

Nuwara Eliya, Hatton, Dickoya



Jetwing Lagoon

Jetwing Lagoon was the first hotel designed by Geoffrey Bawa and that alone is reason enough to stay here. If you don’t know Bawa and have never seen his creations, you are in for a treat! Bawa was a renowned Sri Lankan architect who is famous for merging the inside and the outside into one, for combining nature and architecture in his projects. If there was a tree or an enormous boulder on the site of construction, you can be sure Bawa would play around it and leave it be instead of removing it.

A lot of my favorite hotels in Sri Lanka were created by Bawa. I basically made it my mission to visit all of the hotels he ever designed, including his own home in Bentota (read more about it below). But I digress!

Jetwing Lagoon is a gorgeous hotel with a lake on the one side, and the ocean — on the other. It’s not overlooking the ocean, but you can walk to the beach in about two minutes. It’s peaceful, and quiet, with lots of little nooks and corners where you can hide with a book. The rooms are spacious, with large windows and windowsills you can dance on (an opportunity I never miss). The bathroom is under open sky, large and airy.

There’s a large swimming pool (I think 50 meters long, but don’t quote me on that) and plenty of space to run around, in case you have kids. We stayed here once as a couple and recently as a family of four. Both times were exceptional. The food is great, especially Sri Lankan cuisine (their black pork curry is out of this world!).

It’s perfect for you if: you want some quiet time, appreciate beautiful architecture, need to spend the night on the way from or to the airport. 

It’s not for you if: you want modern design, ocean view.

Check the prices here.


55 TG

When my family and I travel to Sri Lanka we stay in Colombo with my parents-in-law, which is why in my 14 years in the country I only stayed overnight in one hotel in the capital — 55 TG Boutique Suites. It was a present for my husband for our wedding anniversary. 

Think of it as more of a private residency than a hotel. It’s compact and cozy with only 6 suites available for rent. The current owner is a designer whose parents used to live in the building. He turned it into a gorgeous space filled with sculptures, paintings and all kinds of antiquities that cover every square inch of the premises. 

The are only a few staff members who do all the work, so there can be delays sometimes, but they definitely treat every guest with much love and care. 

The hotel is located in Kirulapone neighborhood of Colombo, which is only a short tuk-tuk ride away from many popular attractions and great restaurants. 

There are two dogs that live on the grounds.

It’s perfect for you if: you appreciate art and are ready to be fully immersed into it. 

It’s not for you if: you are looking for minimalist design, you have kids (I would be really stressed that the kids might break something).

Check the prices here.

Number 11, Geoffrey Bawa’s Home

This is not technically a hotel, but an actual house where Geoffrey Bawa, who I already mentioned above, lived in Colombo. It’s a slice of history, an architectural masterpiece, and simply an all-around gorgeous space. 

Located at the end of a cul-de-sac, it originally was a succession of four houses. Bawa initially only bought one in 1959. But over the next ten years he acquired the other three and renovated them to create a single space. 

The property offers two bedrooms, a sitting room, a loggia and a viewing deck on the 4th floor. You can only rent the entire space. As the management points out on their website, although they rent out rooms, they do not run the property as a traditional hotel. The rooms can only be given to a single party. 

The price is quite steep, but if you are an architecture buff, this is a unique experience. It’s one thing to stay in a hotel Bawa designed, but it’s a whole new level to stay at his actual home. If you can’t spend the night, I encourage you to take a guided tour of the property (there are 3 tours per day during the week, 2 on Saturday and 1 on Sunday). This is what I did to be able to see this gem. At the time, photography during the tour wasn’t allowed beyond the entrance group, so I don’t have too many pictures to share. But you can see them here.

It’s perfect for you if: you are an architecture buff, you love Bawa’s work.

It’s not for you if: you are looking for a more traditional, modern hotel.

Check the prices here.

Galle Face Hotel

Galle Face Hotel is one of those hotels where I never spent the night, but have visited dozens of times. It is the oldest and classiest hotel in all of Colombo, a true historical landmark. It was built in 1864 and welcomed many prominent world leaders, famous authors, as well as celebrities: Indira Gandhi, Richard Nixon, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Anton Chekhov to name a few. 

It overlooks the ocean, features a saltwater pool, and several popular restaurants and bars. It’s my favorite spot for breakfast which is served on the terrace overlooking the ocean, as well as cocktails at sunset (at the Firebeach or King of the Mambo, both of which are located on the premises). Even if you can’t stay here overnight, do stop by to see this masterpiece. You can always just grab a cup of coffee, a drink or a delicious meal.

It’s perfect for you if: you love tradition and grandeur, you want an ocean view and prefer to stay in the heart of Colombo.

It’s not for you if: you are looking for modern design, a small boutique hotel.

Check the prices here.

Srilax Stay

I’ve never stayed at Srilax, but can wholeheartedly recommend this place as I know the owners Shana and Isuru and admire their ethics when it comes to running their businesses. My close friend spent the night here and really loved it (“very clean and cozy”). 

Srilax stay is located on the second floor of Kumbuk cafe, one of the most popular cafes in Colombo and my personal favorite. You’ll find me here several times a week with my laptop, whenever I visit Sri Lanka. 

Clean, minimalist design is how I would describe the rooms. It’s a boutique hotel with 5 rooms in total. Located right in the heart of Colombo, it’s a short tuk-tuk drive away from all the major points of interest. You can always come down to the cafe for a meal or a cup of good coffee. Breakfast is included.

It’s perfect for you if: you love minimalist design, looking for something on the affordable side, travel with kids — they have family rooms.

It’s not for you if: you are looking for a luxurious experience.

Check the prices here.


Glenross Living 

Glenross Living is a recent, almost accidental discovery of mine. Since having kids, we weren’t able to travel far into the island to Ella and Nuwara Eliya (6 hours in the car with a 3 and a 1 year old doesn’t sound that fun), so I’ve been looking for a place in the mountains that would be easily accessible. And Glenross Living is it! It’s only an hour and a half away from the capital, but provides a beautiful view of the mountain ranges. 

The main building used to be a colonial planter’s bungalow on the premises of a rubber plantation. We stayed at the admiral suite in the bungalow itself and the rooms were easily the largest I have ever stayed in. One could waltz inside, I am not even exaggerating. Every detail in the interior design is thought-through, the art works are carefully selected. 

They have also built a few new structures on the grounds: private villas with their own plunge pools overlooking the mountains. 

The hotel has a focus on well-being: you are greeted with a neck and shoulder massage upon arrival (you can book a full session for your stay too), yoga classes are available. You can go for a hike, bird watching is also a popular activity. The staff is incredibly friendly and helpful. 

It’s perfect for you if: you are looking for mountainous views without having to go all the way to Ella or Nuwara Eliya, you want a quiet secluded place with a focus on well-being. 

It’s not for you if: you are looking for active vacations — although you can hike in the area around the hotel, it’s a bit too far off from any major attractions. The hotel in itself is the attraction. We stayed here for one night without ever leaving the premises. 

Check the prices here.


Villa Bentota

Yet another creation of Geoffrey Bawa that I was lucky to stay at just last year, as my sister-in-law got married here. The property was built in 1880 and acquired by Bawa who remodeled the building and turned it into a boutique hotel a century later. Today it’s part of KK Collection group of hotels. 

The villa is situated only a short (about 5 minutes) walk from the beach. To get to the ocean you have to cross train tracks, and I find the passing trains part of the charm of this place (they also look good on pictures). The waves can be too rough to swim, but you can always enjoy a sunrise or sunset over the ocean.

The villa features 14 suites and bedrooms, as well as a swimming pool. One side of the pool is shallow so it’s perfect if you have kids. You’ll see a curated collection of artworks by local artists on the walls — they are for sale. There’s also a small souvenir shop right on the grounds of the hotel, featuring arts and crafts made by local artisans. 

It’s perfect for you if: you love Bawa and appreciate beautiful architecture, you want to be near the ocean, you are looking for peace and quiet.

It’s not for you if: you want a hotel directly on the beach.

Check the prices here.


This might be my favorite hotel of all in Sri Lanka. And you won’t be surprised to know it was designed by Bawa. In fact, Lunuganga was his own country house down South. Although he lived and worked in Colombo, this was the place where he spent his weekends and free time. 

It’s not a hotel, it’s a 15 acre estate with multiple structures that feature 10 suites and bedrooms. There’s a pool, an enormous amount of green space to walk around, gardens, benches on every corner to read a book with a cup of coffee (or something stronger). 

The outside and inside blending into one — Bawa’s signature style — is prominent in Lunuganga. The art works are thoughtfully curated. The food (especially Sri Lankan specialties) is delicious. Apart from breakfast that’s included, you are also served complimentary tea and snacks in the afternoon. 

If you cannot stay here, I recommend taking a guided walking tour that takes place every day in the afternoon. Call the hotel to check the exact time and availability. 

It’s perfect for you if: you love Bawa, you want to stay at a hotel that is an experience in itself, you are looking for peace and quiet.

It’s not for you if: you want a hotel directly on the beach, you want to be in the midst of everything — the hotel is secluded and it takes about 15 minutes by car to get here from the ocean. 

Check the prices here.



Riff is one of the newer hotels on the Southern coast of Sri Lanka that was opened in 2018. It is located on the front line so you get an unobstructed view of the ocean. The rooms are really spacious, minimalist, with large windows and lots of light. 

The hotel as a whole is stylish and modern. Amenities include a saltwater infinity pool, a gym, a spa and a library. On their rooftop terrace are two restaurants: the main restaurant offers a mix of Western and Sri Lankan dishes, while True Blue offers Japanese specialties.

It’s perfect for you if: you love modern minimalist design, want to have an ocean view. 

It’s not for you if: you are looking for boutique hotel experience. 

Check the prices here.


Fort Bazaar

Gorgeous hotel in the heart of Galle Fort, truly one of my favorites which is why we stayed here on multiple occasions. They have a beautiful courtyard in the back of the hotel, where you can chill with a book. The rooms are spacious, we didn’t feel cramped even as a family of 3 (with a toddler), probably because the room spills into the courtyard, so our son could run around. The bathroom was quite large, too. 

The breakfast is fantastic, with plenty of Sri Lankan and Western options made to order. I mentioned that I was following a gluten-free diet when we checked in and the chef was really sweet to bake me my own loaf of gluten-free bread! That’s Sri Lankan hospitality. 

As the hotel is right in the center of Galle Fort, exploring it is as easy as can be. There’s a spa on the premises, too. I had a massage there while pregnant and felt truly pampered. 

It’s perfect for you if: if you want to stay right in the heart of Galle Fort with everything in close proximity.

It’s not for you if: nothing to say here, it’s perfect. 

Check the prices here.

41 Lighthouse Street

Located only a few steps away from the Fort Bazaar is a private villa named aptly after its postal address: 41 Lighthouse Street. The villa, that used to be a Dutch merchant’s house, belongs to the same group of hotels that owns Fort Bazaar, so you can be sure you are in good hands here. 

The villa features 3 spacious bedrooms, large living and dining spaces, as well as a swimming pool. You can only rent out the whole villa, not individual bedrooms, so it’s a great place for larger groups. It’s absolutely beautiful, well-decorated and provides ample space for a few couples or families (we had 6 adults and 3 children and it still felt spacious). The food is prepared at Fort Bazaar and served at the villa. You can also choose to just walk to Fort Bazaar for a meal if you want to have a more social dining experience.

It’s perfect for you if: you want to stay right in the heart of Galle Fort with everything in close proximity, if you have a large group. 

It’s not for you if: you are traveling solo or as a couple and need a single room. 

Check the prices here.

Jetwing Lighthouse

One more hotel created by Geoffrey Bawa — told you I am on a mission to visit all the hotels he designed. It’s located outside the Galle Fort, but you can easily get there within 6-7 minutes by tuk-tuk. Jetwing Lighthouse features 85 rooms. I usually prefer to stay at smaller hotels, but it’s Bawa, so I had to. And, honestly, it was a great experience. 

First of, the hotel overlooks the ocean and it’s not the quiet, still kind of ocean, but rough waves hitting the rocks — it’s gorgeous! Second, the architecture! As you enter the hotel, you find yourself in an enclosed space that features a spiral staircase with intricate bronze and copper sculptures that depict the battle of Randeniwela which took place during the Portuguese colonization. The staircase was designed by Laki Senanayake, a Sri Lankan architect. Bawa also left the large natural boulders in their original place — you will see them all throughout the property. 

The rooms feature teak floors, hand-carved furniture, balconies from which a view of the ocean opens up. There are 3 pools: 2 large ones where you can do laps and a smaller one for kids. The food is ok, but nothing to write home about, so I would recommend to try the restaurants in Galle Fort instead. 

It’s perfect for you if: you love Bawa, you want to have an ocean view from your room.

It’s not for you if: you want to stay inside Galle Fort, you are looking for a boutique hotel.

Check the prices here.

Unawatuna and Thalpe

Era Beach

This hotel is special to me because this is where my husband proposed. The year was 2013 and it was the very first luxury hotel I’ve ever stayed at. Need I say my mind was completely blown? 

Ten years later, it is still one of the most beautiful hotels on the Southern coast. It features ten spacious rooms with hardwood floors, beautiful wooden furniture, vintage pieces, and works of art. 

The swimming pool overlooking the ocean is the star of the show. You can walk to the ocean in a few minutes or even ask for a dinner to be set on the beach. Which is what my then-boyfriend-now-husband did. Rose petals on the bed and fireworks can also be organized with the help of the manager, in case you are interested. Wink wink!

It’s perfect for you if: you want to stay at a luxurious place overlooking the ocean, with direct beach access.

It’s not for you if: nothing here, it’s just great. 

Check the prices here.


Villa Atulya

The villa is actually two villas (each featuring 5 bedrooms) right next to each other. We traveled as a large group of several families and booked all five bedrooms in one villa, but you can book only one bedroom (or however many you need). 

It’s beautifully decorated and has splashes of color that make it feel like a bright and happy space. There’s a large dining room where we took meals together. Just in front of the villa is a pool and a large lawn where the kids can run around. The ocean is just a few minutes walk away. It’s too rough to swim, but perfect to watch sunrise or sunset. 

It’s perfect for you if: you are looking for a quiet space, simple and charming, with no crowds.

It’s not for you if: if you want to be able to swim in the ocean, here it’s too rough. 

Check the prices here.

Lantern Boutique Hotel

One of the nicest beachfront hotels I’ve stayed at (I can’t say that I stayed in many because I always prefer mountains and gardens to ocean when I am in Sri Lanka, but still). It has that feel of a brand new hotel, perfectly clean and neat. 

The rooms are enormous with floor-to-ceiling glass doors that lead you into a large balcony with a view of the ocean. I spent a lot of time chilling on the couch on the balcony, reading and listening to the waves. 

The service is great and so is the food. Our every wish was taken care of, including many requests for menu items to be modified in order to accommodate the kids. The beach is private, only for the guests of the hotel.

It’s perfect for you if: you want clean minimalist design, direct access to the ocean where you can swim. 

It’s not for you if: nothing here, it’s all around great. 

Check the prices here.

Ubuntu Beach Villas 

This is a hotel where I haven’t stayed myself, but my friends did. It’s a sister hotel of Lantern Boutique Hotel (owned by the same company). When we were in Mirissa, there weren’t enough rooms at Lantern, so some of our friends stayed at Ubuntu, less than 5 minutes away by tuk-tuk. It’s a similar concept: only 8 bedrooms overlooking the ocean. The villa features two pools. There’s a spa too. I don’t have any pictures, unfortunately, but you can see them here.

It’s perfect for you if: you want clean minimalist design, direct access to the ocean where you can swim. 

It’s not for you if: it’s all around great. 

Check the prices here.


Lighthouse Ahangama

I have mixed feelings about this place, but I am including it because while it wasn’t a good fit for us, it can be for many other people. This is a mid-range hotel when it comes to price, but considering the prime location and the gorgeous ocean views, I would expect the price to be higher. 

It’s a small hotel located right on the front line in Ahangama, which is one of the hotspots down South right now. The view is of the rough ocean hitting the rocks; the rooms are spacious, minimalist and clean. There’s a rooftop bar that is a popular spot among both locals and tourists to hang out, especially at sunset, so expect quite a few people at the property who are not staying there. 

The food is incredible, the menu was, in fact, developed by the husband of my dear friend, who is an amazing chef, so every dish we tried was spectacular. 

Then what’s the catch you ask? At the time when we stayed there, it was understaffed and the management was not responsive. My son got sick on that trip, so we were up all night. The problem was all the staff left for the night, which meant we had no one to ask for help from until 8 am the next morning. 

So the conclusion is if you are low maintenance and don’t need much help from the staff, then this place is amazing. If, on the other hand, you are traveling with kids or have a medical condition that might require help, I wouldn’t recommend the place. 

It’s perfect for you if: you want a hotel by the ocean with great views at affordable price; you don’t need any extra care from the staff; you like to surf — there are two spots for surfing right in front of the hotel.

It’s not for you if: you are traveling with kids, are looking for exceptional service and extra attentive staff.

Check the prices here.

Sukomala Imaduwa Villa

This villa is a restored mansion that features 4 bedrooms spread over two floors. Newly-renovated and carefully furnished and decorated, it’s incredibly beautiful. 

You can only rent out the whole villa, but do check out the price before discarding this option. We only needed 2 bedrooms and it was cheaper to rent out this whole place than 2 hotel rooms by the beach. The villa is actually situated in a tranquil, secluded place, away from the hustle and bustle of Ahangama, but close enough to get to the poplar restaurants and bars within 10 minutes by car (or tuk-tuk). 

There’s a swimming pool, an enormous front lawn with a swing, and a backyard. Plenty of space for kids to run around and have fun. The only thing that was not particularly kid-friendly was the steep staircase leading to the second floor. One more thing that you need to keep in mind: the insulation between the floors is not so good. So if someone is staying upstairs, every step can be heard in the downstairs bedrooms. 

The staff is incredibly helpful and attended to our every wish. They only cook Sri Lankan food. But Ahangama has a great many restaurants that serve delicious food if you want variety. 

It’s perfect for you if: you want to stay in a tranquil place, away from people; you are traveling with a big group or with kids.

It’s not for you if: you want to stay by the ocean, you are traveling solo or as a couple and look for a single bedroom.

Check the prices here.


Ceylon Sliders

Weligama is considered the hot spot for surfers, and Ceylon Sliders is aptly named to reflect that. It’s a boutique hotel with moderately-priced rooms, located right by the ocean — you only need to cross the road to be at the beach. One of the most popular surfing spots is only 50 meters away. 

They have a wonderful cafe on the ground floor that serves devious healthy-ish meals, a rooftop bar and a little shop where you can get a few souvenirs, as well as clothes. The rooms are small, but clean and nice.

It’s perfect for you if: you are looking for something very close to the beach; you want an affordable place; you want to be in the midst of the hustle and bustle of a little surf town. 

It’s not for you if: you want a tranquil place; you want direct access to the ocean right from your hotel; you are traveling with kids.

Check the prices here.


Aga Surf View

Aga Surf View was an accidental find when we checked into a poplar hotel in Tangalle, immediately realized how dirty it was and had to quickly find a new place for the same night. What a relief it was to arrive to this villa! 

It’s located in the end of a small street, so the feeling is of a secluded space. On the grounds, you’ll find several little houses, each with a room or two. Our room had a little terrace where we had coffee and dinners. There’s a beautiful garden with a little pool and a private access to the beach (you can swim here). If you wake up early enough you can witness the fishermen come back to the shore with their catch. My father-in-law bought fish from the fishermen and asked the chef to cook it — less than an hour later we were served devious Sri Lankan breakfast featuring fish curry. That just goes to show how attentive and helpful the staff is here. 

It’s perfect for you if: you are traveling with kids; looking for a secluded quiet space with beach access.

It’s not for you if: it’s great all around. 

Check the prices here.


Jetwing Yala

There are not too many hotels in Yala, and Jetwing is definitely one of the most popular ones. The hotel takes up 38 acres and features 80 rooms. We stayed in a deluxe room that was spacious, beautifully-decorated, with a large terrace facing the swimming pool. The interior design is meant to reflect the natural surroundings of the hotel: wooden floors and furniture, neutral colors, bar a splash of green on the wall. 

My favorite part of the hotel is the entrance group. As you arrive and walk through the corridor, slowly the lobby opens up and so does the view of the ocean. Once again, you are inside, but the outside is within an arm’s reach — the hotel was designed by a Bawa’s student. 

There’s a large pool with a shallow area for kids. We were told that sometimes elephants walk right through the hotel premises, but we weren’t lucky enough to see them. 

The food is ok, but nothing to write home about. Unfortunately, there are no other restaurants around to check out. The hotel can help you organize your safari tour. 

It’s perfect for you if: you are doing safari in Yala and looking for a beautiful place to stay the night and chill. 

It’s not for you if: honestly, there aren’t terribly many hotels in Yala, and if you are looking for a tried and true place that is moderately priced, this is it. I can’t imagine who wouldn’t be comfortable here. Maybe if you are looking for a boutique hotel, then my next suggestion is better suited for you.

Check the prices here.

Wild Coast Tented Lodge

This is by far the most expensive hotel on this list and one where I haven’t personally stayed yet. But my sister-in-law and her husband did, as part of their honeymoon, and absolutely loved it. 

The hotel is really a collection of 28 tented huts or cocoons, as they are called here. Their design seamlessly blends with the natural surroundings and has received UNESCO Design Award. The location is quite unique: a jungle meets Indian ocean shores. 

The suites, some of which are equipped with a private wooden deck and a plunge pool, reflect vintage-explorer style: copper accents, camp-style furniture, Persian rugs. The star of the show is a copper clawfoot bathtub overlooking the jungle. 

It’s perfect for you if: you have a special occasion to celebrate; you want to have a once-in-a-lifetime experience of luxury and exceptional service. 

It’s not for you if: you are looking for a moderately-priced hotel.

Check the prices here.

Sigiriya and Dambulla

Back of Beyond Pidurangala

One of the most unusual hotels I’ve stayed at! What you need to book here is a private cottage — don’t take the word “cottage” literally, it’s really an elevated structure with a roof, but absolutely no walls to be seen — the ultimate way to unite with nature. They also have regular rooms, but the little huts are what this place is most famous for. 

Falling asleep while hearing the noises of the jungle is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You could call it glamping, I guess? But it’s really not that luxurious, rather comfy and homely. This is a perfect base if you want to see Sigiriya Rock, climb Pidurangala and visit Minneraya National Park.

The food was some of the best I’ve had anywhere on the island!

It’s perfect for you if: you want to be one with nature, you are excited about the wildlife being super close — sometimes elephants pass by the hotel. 

It’s not for you if: you are looking for a more “normal” hotel with walls and doors. 

Check the prices here.

Heritance Kandalama

Heritance Kandalama is one of Geoffrey Bawa’s most impressive and beautiful creations. The entrance is where it all starts. Bawa designed a visual sequence: from tunnel-like corridor that features a huge boulder as one of its walls to a spacious open-air lobby to, finally, a panoramic view of the Kandalama Reservoir. 

The hotel itself is covered (I want to say head to toe, but I guess it should be roof to floor in case of a building?) in greenery. I haven’t had a chance to stay the night, but we stopped for a few hours to admire this masterpiece and have a cup of coffee on our latest trip to Sigiriya and Dambulla. You can also come here for afternoon high tea, but do reserve a table in advance. 

It’s perfect for you if: you want to be one with nature, you love Bawa and his architectural style.

It’s not for you if: you are looking for a more affordable hotel.

Check the prices here.

Kandy and Surroundings 

Helga’s Folly

Quirky, colorful, like nothing else I have ever seen is the best way I can describe this hotel. Let me start by saying it’s not for everyone. If you appreciate art enough to not notice dust, spider webs here and there or low water pressure in the shower, you’ll love it! If you prefer a squeaky clean room with modern amenities and a comfortable memory-foam mattress (no judgement!), you probably will be disappointed. 

I am definitely in the former category: I am ready to abandon comfort (and lower my cleanliness standards) for a chance to stay at such a unique place. Murals on every vertical surface, works of art — sometimes gorgeous, other times creepy — on every horizontal surface, candles just everywhere. The hotel belongs to Helga de Silva Blow Perera, an artist herself. It is located atop a hill, a short tuk-tuk ride from Kandy city center. 

It’s perfect for you if: you are an artist (or an artist at heart); you love quirky.

It’s not for you if: you are looking for a hotel with modern amenities and high cleanliness standards. 

Check the prices here.

Taylor’s Hill

The hotel, which I would describe as a British-style country house, is located about an hour drive away from Kandy. So you could plan, for example, to explore Kandy, then drive to Taylor’s Hill to spend a night or two before proceeding to Nuwara Eliya. 

Taylor’s Hill takes its name from James Taylor, a Scottish tea planter who (together with a Scottish merchant Thomas Lipton — this name sounds familiar, right?) introduced tea to Ceylon. When he arrived to the island in 1852, he settled in Loolecondera estate in Delthota. Right next to Loolecondera estate was Pattiyagama Estate. Taylor’s Hill is the new name of Pattiyagama Mansion that was used for planters’ gatherings — you have a rare chance to stay at a mansion where history was made. 

I haven’t stayed here yet, but my close friends did and enjoyed the experience. According to them, the rooms are spacious and each is decorated individually. The mansion has many nooks and corners for reading, several sitting areas to have a cup of coffee and a chat with other guests, a pool table, and a beautiful pool area (the pool itself is in need of renovations, apparently). There are also outdoor areas to play tennis and badminton. Another great advantage is that the hotel is located very close to the Pekoe trail. 

It’s perfect for you if: you are looking for a luxurious boutique hotel; you want to be immersed in history, you are planning to hike Pekoe Trail. 

It’s not for you if: you are looking for a budget accommodation, want to use the hotel as a base to explore Kandy (it’s an hour away). 

Check the prices here.

Nuwara Eliya, Hatton, Dickoya

The Grand Hotel

The Grand Hotel is THE hotel in Nuwara Eliya. It’s a tourist attraction on its own, so you have to come and see it even if you are not staying the night. I have been here multiple times for a coffee, a meal, an afternoon tea, but am yet to experience the luxury of their rooms. 

The building was initially a one-story bungalow built as a holiday residence of Sir Edward Barnes, the fifth governor of Ceylon. It was named Barnes Hall, after him. The residence had seen several owners before in 1892 it was acquired by the Nuwara Eliya Hotels Company Limited. Several wings and two more stories were added over time. Currently there are 154 rooms at The Grand Hotel (including several suites). 

The gardens around the hotel are a beautiful space for a walk. The Grand Inidian and Grand Thai restaurants serve really good food. The afternoon tea is also delicious (try to book a table at the terrace). 

It’s perfect for you if: you love to stay at historic properties; you love British-style architecture and interior design; you want to be at the most happening place in Nuwara Eliya.

It’s not for you if: you are looking for a boutique hotel with a few rooms and few guests.

Check the prices here.

The Farm Resorts

The Farm Resorts is located on the banks of Castlereigh Reservoir in Dickoya and is a wonderful place to experience the hill country. The hotel is not a single structure, but a collection of 8 chalets and several bungalows. 

The chalets are built atop elevation and have unobstructed view of tea plantations and the reservoir. Some of the chalets are two-story and feature two bedrooms, which is convenient if you are traveling with friends or family. The bungalows also feature two bedrooms each, as well as a siting area and a terrace. I would describe the room design as contemporary and clean. I haven’t yet stayed here, but my sister-in-law and several of my friends did. 

Using the Farm Resorts as a base, you can explore Hatton (only 20 minutes away by car), as well as do kayaking and boat rides on the Castlereigh Lake, or see the surrounding area while riding a bike. 

It’s perfect for you if: you’d love to stay at your own little chalet, rather than a room at a big hotel. 

It’s not for you if: you want to explore Nuwara Eliya — it’s over an hour away by car. 

Check the prices here.


98 Acres

The hotel takes its name from the fact that it is located on 98 acres of land, most of which is taken by tea plantations. There’s a series of rustic-looking (but make no mistake, luxurious) chalets built on the top of a hill that provide unobstructed views of the Ella Gap. 

A lot of recyclable materials were used in construction of the chalets: for example, discarded railway sleepers to built decks and walls, granite for the floors, while the roofs are made of straw. There’s a beautiful pool on the premises. 

98 Acres is located near the start of the trail to Little Adam’s Peak. I would recommend making a stop here after the hike for a refreshment, if you don’t want to spend the night here. That’s what I did, anyways. My cousin-in-law and his wife stayed here and the hotel lived up to all their expectations. One thing worth mentioning is that, apparently, the insulation in the chalets is not too good, so you might hear the guests in the adjoining bedroom (each chalet features two bedrooms).

It’s perfect for you if: you’d love to stay at a boutique hotel with beautiful, unobstructed views of the hills. 

It’s not for you if: you are looking for a moderately-priced option.

Check the prices here.

Hide Ella

This modern hotel is built into a 60-degree slope in the Ella Gap and provides breathtaking views of the hill country from every room, as well as common areas. The restaurant, in particular, features floor-to-ceiling windows, making every meal a special experience. 

The room design is contemporary and minimalist. There’s a beautiful pool and several terraces overlooking the mountains where you can have a drink, read, or chat with other guests. There are also a spa and a gym on the premises. I haven’t stayed here, but several of my family members and friends did. 

It’s perfect for you if: you love a modern hotel, minimally decorated; you want to have a view of the mountains right from your room.

It’s not for you if: you are looking for a boutique hotel or a British-style bungalow, that Sri Lankan hill country is so famous for. 

Check the prices here.

And that is it for now. I hope to keep updating this post as I come back to Sri Lanka and stay at more and more beautiful places. If you book a hotel I recommended, do let me know how it was!  I would love to hear from you! 

Pin for Later: