November 7, 2018
When it comes to luxury accommodation and boutique stays – Sri Lanka’s hotel operators and their staff can arguably claim to be some of the best in the world.
From luxurious tea plantation stays to beach resorts, to heritage hotels and safari camps – Sri Lanka boasts an incredible range of luxury hotels.
And some of those we believe should be included in your private tour of Sri Lanka.
As with accommodation across all levels, Sri Lankan hotels by and large have a style and aesthetic that is uniquely the country’s own – incorporating the beautiful natural surroundings into the hotel’s layout and design, with interiors that reflect its climate, its colours and its heritage and history, and with great attention to detail and genuine service.
Whether your budget extends to staying in all of them, or just one as a special stay when you are on holidays in Sri Lanka, here is our list of six of the best luxury hotels in Sri Lanka, in no particular order. We think they are worth splurging on.
#1 Tea Trails
Tea Trails in Sri Lanka could be the nation’s best-known luxury property.
Ceylon Tea Trails is Sri Lanka’s first Relais & Chateaux property – made up of a handful of restored colonial tea planters bungalows set in the cooler climate tea country. Each bungalow has just a few rooms – so there are limited guests at each property at any one time – and more personalised service. The interiors are elegant and beautiful. What is it like to stay at Tea Trails in Sri Lanka? A stay at Tea Trails is all-inclusive – so that includes all meals (including a daily afternoon tea!), drinks and some extra services such as laundry. Each room also has a private butler who will bring you bed tea each morning (as the name suggests – tea in bed at your desired time). The properties are heavenly – picturesque views of the tea country and Castlereagh Reservoir; immaculate lawns and gardens; swimming pools – one even has a tennis court; wide verandahs perfect for afternoon tea (a daily ritual) or simply relaxing, and the tea country at your doorstep for shorter or longer strolls. Our experience is 2 nights is great, but a 3-night stay is even better! You can expect some of the best western and Sri Lankan meals we’ve had in Sri Lanka during your stay and daily discussions with the chef about your dining preferences, an extensive tea menu which is worth trying as many as you can, and outstanding service from the well-trained and accommodating staff. A three-night stay at Tea Trails is the centrepiece of our small group tour by our Remarkable East brand Splendour in Sri Lanka – departing in July 2019. If you stay at Tea Trails and plan to head to either Sri Lanka’s south coast or Yala National park – ask us about a private charter flight from Castlereagh Reservoir that will cut out a long drive for you.
This luxury eco resort can be your home-away-from-home if you want to base yourself for a few days to explore Sri Lanka’s cultural triangle. This expansive property features free standing villas dotted among the varying tropical landscape and rice paddy. Some of the villas feature private plunge pools, and each come with bicycles so you can explore the property by bicycle or simply ride to and from the main pool and restaurant. (You can also just stroll.) The eye-catching main swimming pool is said to be the largest in Sri Lanka. The villas allow you the chance to feel Sri Lanka’s beautiful natural surroundings – indeed during a recent stay we observed monkeys playing in the nearby large trees and a lot of early morning bird activity from our bathroom window. It was a nature walk without the walk! Ulagalla offers a number of activities on the property including horse riding and spa treatments. They have recently added some new villas – which we can’t wait to see.
From Ulagalla you can make day trips to visit Sigiriya Rock Fortress, or Lion Rock as it is known, Anuradhapura, Dambulla Cave Temples and Minneriya National Park, making it a good choice for a longer stay if you wish to do one activity each morning and enjoy the hotel facilities during the afternoon. Perfect for those with time or who don’t like to rush around during their holidays.
Sri Lanka’s top luxury hotels – including a tea plantation stay, a grand heritage hotel in the capital, and an eco resort near Sigiriya.
#3 Chena Huts
Chena Huts is the most luxurious of the properties with access to Yala National Park. We use this property regularly for clients and as part of our small group tour Splendour in Sri Lanka, personally hosted by our founder Lincoln Harris. Lincoln, having stayed at Chena Huts several times, says everything about Chena Huts is fantastic. Guests stay in freestanding rooms with private plunge pools on the deck. The property is surrounded at all sides by incredible environment – there’s the beach and coastline, a lake and the jungle. Like Tea Trails, Chena Huts is all-inclusive, including the mini bar in your room, so it’s not far from your private plunge pool to the mini bar if you need a cheeky afternoon drink! Chena Huts’ expert naturalists will accompany you on safari into Yala – their skills and information will draw in even those with just a passing interest in wildlife! Other aspects of a stay at Chena Huts in Sri Lanka you can look forward to – the beautiful main pool, pampering yourself at the spa, and Lincoln recommends the spicy watermelon martini!
Chena Huts can be included in any of our custom made Sri Lanka holidays. We have also included in our suggested itinerary – Honeymoon Sri Lanka – a suggested honeymoon in Sri Lanka for newlyweds featuring remarkable accommodation.
The historic walled city of Galle Fort is a popular destination for visitors on a private tour of Sri Lanka. While there are a range of accommodation options inside the fort – for the best place to stay in Galle – for those with the budget to splurge – is Amangalla by Aman. Understated luxury, sophistication and serenity are what you will find here. Central to Amangalla are its inviting living space – The Sunset Balcony and The Zaal (Great Hall) – wide verandahs, antique furnishings and its heritage lounge/dining room. Each time you arrive or leave the hotel, these spaces will call to you to stop and linger, to pause for a cuppa or to just watch life inside the fort pass by. Amangalla is unrivalled with its impressive large swimming pool inside the fort walls. Linger over lunch under the shade of the poolside trees, enjoy yoga in the mornings, pamper yourself with a spa treatment or peruse the hotel’s book collection in the library. Bedrooms have antique furniture and four-poster beds, footed baths, and a living area. The hotel, with its historic façade, sits ideally located inside the fort wall at the top of Galle. Galle is an easy place to explore on foot and a pleasant place to spend a few days. Be warned though – once you settle in at Amangalla you may never want to leave! Make it the last stop on your tour or Sri Lanka before you fly home, or you may be tempted to stay here your entire trip.
#5 Galle Face Hotel
Galle Face Hotel in Colombo is an icon of Sri Lanka’s capital city and a landmark. This grand heritage hotel draws business visitors, travellers, cricketers and movie stars as guests. Recently refurbished, this more than 150-year-old heritage hotel sits opposite the city’s Galle Face Green and is centrally located for sightseeing and exploring in Colombo. Splurge on a stay in a junior suite or premier room at Galle Face Hotel and gain access to the exclusive Long Room during your stay. The Long Room grants those guests an all-day espresso bar, cocktail hour, as well as the option to have breakfast here; it’s quiet and sophisticated and just that little something extra during your stay at Galle Face Hotel in Colombo. The premier rooms are in the newly refurbished part of the hotel and the junior suites are in the heritage wing. Both are bigger and more spacious than your entry-level room category. A premier sea view room with a balcony will give you views across the Arabian Sea.
Experience the best of Sri Lanka’s preserved heritage at SinhaGiri – a restored 19thcentury bungalow in the heart of Nuwara Eliya, one of the country’s cooler hill stations that was once a sanctuary for the British and tea planters alike. With only two suites, take the whole property if you are travelling with friends or family, and surround yourself with passionately collected art and treasures. A private bungalow with plush, spacious living areas, which are ideal for relaxing. Nearby are a number of easy or more challenging walks, a golf club should you wish to play golf in Sri Lanka, the city’s historic centre, tea plantations and factories to visit and Lake Gregory.
All of these properties can be combined into a custom made private tour of Sri Lanka for you. Contact us today for more details.
You may also like to read our other Sri Lanka travel blogs:
16 Things About Sri Lanka to Know Before You Go
Here’s 10 things you should see or do in Sri Lanka