Sri Lanka is an incredible country to visit with pristine beaches, fabulous food, vivid culture & history, breathtaking wildlife and wonderful people. Over the past three years, I’ve made it my mission to explore as much of the country as possible and have climbed Sigiriya Rock Fortress, surfed in Arugam Bay, gone on elephant safaris in various national parks, taken the scenic train through hill country, practiced Yoga in open-air beachfront pavilions, frolicked down empty beaches in the Southern Province and enjoyed Ayurvedic treatments with experienced Ayurveda doctors. These things are just the tip of what the country has to offer, and one of my favorite aspects about traveling in Sri Lanka is the incredible choice of hotels, guesthouses and B&Bs available throughout the country. Not convinced? Click here for 10 reasons why you need to visit Sri Lanka now!
I’m passionate about promoting unique and boutique travel experiences, and personally look for comfort, beautiful decor and warm hospitality when I travel. Without further ado here are some of the best boutique hotels in Sri Lanka to book yourself into for your next trip! Make sure you subscribe to the e-mail list as this list will be updated on a regular basis.
1. Central and North Central Provinces
The Central Province is primarily in the central mountainous terrain of Sri Lanka and contains popular tourist destinations such as Sigiriya, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, Minneriya and Kaudulla National Parks, Dambulla, Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura.
– Madulkelle Tea & Eco Lodge in Kandy –
Madulkelle Tea & Eco Lodge is an hour’s drive away from the heart of Kandy, and offers 18 safari-like lodges with the most incredible views over Kandy’s mountain ranges. It is one of the best small luxury boutique hotels in Sri Lanka, and each room has its own private balcony overlooking the tea plantations below and panoramic views of the breathtaking sunsets and sunrises.
The climate, unlike coastal Sri Lanka, is dry and much milder, so expect warm days and cool nights. Click here for my full review of the property, and click here to book your stay at Madulkelle Tea & Eco Lodge!
– Rukgala Retreat in Digana –
Rukgala Retreat is a 10-bedroom boutique Yoga and wellness hotel about 45 minutes away from Kandy. It is the perfect place to spend a few days practicing Yoga, getting your fill of delicious and nutritious food, lounging by the pool or taking leisurely strolls by the lake. Sound like your kind of holiday? Read on for why Rukgala is an unmissable Yoga retreat in Sri Lanka, or click here to check current rates and availability at Rukgala!
Things to see and do in the area: Temple of the Tooth, Royal Botanic Gardens, Knuckles mountain range, Kandy lake. Read more about things to do in and around Kandy here.
– Unique Cottages in Nuwara Eliya –
Nuwara Eliya, the “City of Light”, is high up in the mountains and the start line for those hoping to visit World’s End and Adam’s Peak. Nuwara Eliya is also home to Lake Gregory, a reservoir in the heart of the tea country. Unique Cottages offered a comfortable 1 night stay at a reasonable price. The staff are friendly and helpful, and can help to book transport and tours to Horton Plains/World’s End.
If you are planning to stay here, try to avoid the attic room as there is only 1 small window for ventilation. Click here to book your stay at Unique Cottages, or click here for more accommodation options in Nuwara Eliya!
Things to see and do in the area: Horton Plains National Park, World’s End, Adam’s Peak, Devon Falls, Lake Gregory.
– EKHO Sigiriya in Sigiriya –
EKHO Sigiriya (formerly named Zinc Journey Sigiriya) offers beautifully decorated rooms, incredible service and is right next to Sigiriya Rock. You can even see the rock fortress from the hotel! The hotel staff can also arrange safaris to Minneriya and Kaudulla National Parks to spot wild elephants. If you have hired a driver to take you around the island, clean and roomy driver accommodation is available here. Click here to book your stay at EKHO Sigiriya!
– Diyabubula near Dambulla –
Diyabubula means “bubbling fountain” as it is built on top of a natural spring. It opened in 2016 and may be lesser-known to the average traveler to Sri Lanka, but not in the architecture and design community as it was designed by renown Sri Lankan artist Laki Senanayake. The 5 bedroom eco-luxury jungle hideaway was built with sustainability at the forefront, and building materials were upcycled from 100-year-old railway sleepers combined with local timber.
Diyabubula is the perfect retreat if you want to be immersed in nature – it is shaded by dense canopy after Laki replanted the forest 40 years ago, and is filled with the sounds of birds chirping, butterflies fluttering and monkeys jumping from tree to tree. Read my full hotel review here, or check out the various room types (bamboo grove, water villa, tree house) at their website!
2. Eastern Province
The Eastern Province is made up of the districts of Batticaloa and Trincomalee and is popular for people visiting Nilaveli Beach, Arugam Bay, Pottuvil and Pigeon Island.
– The Spice Trail –
The Spice Trail is a boutique hotel in the thick of it all – right along the main stretch of Arugam Bay. The property has an on-site restaurant, coffee shop, bar and pool. Rooms are extremely spacious for Sri Lankan standards, and equipped with air-conditioners (which you’ll be thankful for because it gets stinking hot in Arugam Bay).
If you’re looking for comfortable rooms in Arugam Bay in an unbeatable location, stay at The Spice Trail. Click here for current rates and availability!
– Kottukal Beach House by Jetwing –
Situated in Pottuvil and further away from the main Arugam Bay beach is Kottukal Beach House, operated by Jetwing Hotels, a local Sri Lankan-owned hospitality chain. The property offers beach access, a pool and spacious rooms at a reasonable rate. The hotel is a 15-20 minute drive away from the main strip of Arugam Bay, so is perfect if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the town during the peak season in the east (July to September). Click here to book your stay at Kottukal Beach House!
One thing to note, however, is that the driver accommodation onsite was subpar when we visited in October 2016 (our driver opted to sleep in the van instead) – things may have changed since our visit, so it’s worth calling ahead and asking if you have hired a driver to take you around the island.
Things to see and do in the area: Pigeon Island National Park, Nilaveli Beach, Arugam Bay, Gal Oya National Park. Read more about surfing in Arugam Bay here.
3. Southern and Uva Provinces
The Southern and Uva Provinces are home to beautiful beaches, incredible national parks, parts of hill country, stilt fishermen and Galle Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Most visitors to this region travel to Ella, Galle, Talalla, Unawatuna, Mirissa, Koggala, Hambantota, Matara, Ahangama, Weligama and Tangalle. It’s easy to move around this region by train, car or tuk tuk, so if you only have a few days I would recommend picking 1-2 hotels and venturing out for day trips.
– 98 Acres in Ella –
You can’t really talk about boutique hotels in Ella without mentioning 98 Acres. This stunning property is quite possibly the gold standard in Ella, which is also why it is always booked up – you need to make sure you book early to secure a room! The rooms offer stunning views of tea plantations and Mini Adam’s Peak, the spa is incredible and the food is delicate and very tasty.
It is well worth spending a night or two at 98 Acres in Ella – the location is perfect as it is where the trail to Mini Adam’s Peak begins, and only a stone’s throw away from the Nine Arch Bridge. Click here to check current rates and availability at 98 Acres.
– Ella Mountain Heavens in Ella –
For amazing views of the Ella mountain gap, stay at Ella Mountain Heavens, a cozy boutique hotel high up in the hills. Make sure you get a room with a balcony overlooking the mountain gap, and park yourself outside while admiring the sunset from the comfort of your own room. Click here to book your stay at Ella Mountain Heavens.
– The Bamboo in Ella –
The Bamboo is a Sri Lankan family-run boutique guesthouse that is convenient located in the heart of town. The room rates are reasonable and the room is massive and tastefully decorated, but because of its location you will hear some street noise. The guesthouse provides earplugs if you need them. Click here to book your stay at The Bamboo or click here for more accommodation options in Ella!
Things to see and do in the area: Hike Mini Adam’s Peak, visit a tea factory and plantation, swim in Ravana Falls, check out the Nine Arch Bridge. Click here for my guide to spending 2 days in Ella.
– Talalla Retreat in Talalla (or Thalalla) –
Talalla Retreat is conveniently located near the southernmost point of Sri Lanka which makes it a great place to base yourself to explore the Southern Province. The rooms, while basic, are comfortable and the rates are reasonable given it offers a pool as well as beach access.
The hotel also hosts daily Yoga classes and surf lessons for anyone hoping to try their hand at catching a wave. Click here to book your stay at Talalla Retreat!
Things to see and do in the area: Dondra Lighthouse, Hummanaya Blowhole, Paravi Duwa Temple, Mulkirigala Raja Maha Vihara Rock Temple.
– Zephyr in Talalla (or Thalalla) –
Zephyr is a boutique 4-room beachfront villa down the road from Talalla Retreat. If you’re looking for a more intimate and quiet getaway in Sri Lanka, check yourself into this property. The on-site restaurant serves up some of the best food and cocktails in southern Sri Lanka, and the service is top notch. Make sure you order ahead if you want to have Sri Lankan hoppers for breakfast.
Don’t feel like swimming in the ocean? Head downstairs to the private pool and order some poolside mojitos. The rooms at Zephyr are spacious and airy, and are also equipped with air conditioning units for those extra steamy Sri Lankan afternoons. As there are only 4 rooms at Zephyr you really get to unwind and relax – make sure you book ahead as they do fill up fast. Click here to book your stay at Zephyr Talalla!
– Fort Printers in Galle Fort –
Galle Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a great place to wander around. I would recommend that you stay the night at The Fort Printers, a converted heritage hotel in the heart of Galle Fort. The rooms are tastefully decorated and extremely spacious. Click here to book your stay at stay the night at The Fort Printers!
Things to see and do in the area: Book a massage at Spa Ceylon, sip on a cup of tea at the Amangalla, visit the old Dutch Hospital, do some shopping at Barefoot Gallery and Stolen Paradise Clothing, spend some time strolling through the town, see the iconic Galle Fort Lighthouse and walk along the fort wall for panoramic coastal views. Read my full guide to Galle Fort by clicking here.
– Eliyanth Udawalawe in Udawalawe –
Udawalawe National Park is one of the most popular parks to visit in Sri Lanka for wildlife lovers. It is home to a large population of Asian elephants and elephant sightings are almost guaranteed. Book yourself into Eliyanth Udawalawe, a small hotel that offers incredible value for money. The rooms are spacious and clean with a private balcony overlooking the river, the safari jeep driver/spotter is professional and the manager is incredibly helpful if you need any help booking transportation.
This is also a great hotel for you if you’re looking to visit the nearby Elephant Transit Home which looks after orphaned baby elephants and returns them to the wild once they are rehabilitated. The one thing to note is that they only accept cash, but there are nearby ATMs that you can use. Click here to book your stay at Eliyanth Udawalawe or click here to look for other accommodation options in Udawalawe!
– Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle in Tangalle –
Looking to add a touch of luxury to your Sri Lanka trip? Book a stay at Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle, a 5-star property offering beautiful rooms, beach access, incredible dining facilities and wonderful hospitality. Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle is one of the best boutique hotels in Sri Lanka and a fantastic place to relax and rejuvenate.
It is also a great base for day trips around the southern coast or a safari in Yala National Park. Click here to read my full review of the property, or click here to book your stay at Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle!
– Shangri-La’s Hambantota Golf Resort & Spa in Hambantota –
Shangri-La’s Hambantota Resort & Spa is probably one of the best beach resorts in Sri Lanka. It opened last June and is the newest luxury venture to open its doors in southern Sri Lanka, and is also the largest resort in country at nearly 60 hectares (or 150 acres).
Aside from the incredible rooms, the hotel offers a plethora of facilities and activities including a trapeze, trampolines, fitness centre, 18-hole golf course, Ayurveda spa, children’s playroom and cultural artisan village. Click here to read my full review of the property or click here to book your stay at Shangri-La’s Hambantota Resort & Spa!
– Jetwing Yala in Yala –
If you plan to stay overnight in Yala, there are a number of boutique hotels and tented safari camps. I stayed at Jetwing Yala in October 2017 and loved the property. The rooms are spacious, the food is delicious (they have 2 restaurants and a beautiful cocktail bar), beach access as well an incredible pool. Wait for it – the pool has a swim-up bar! So you can lounge by the pool with cocktails after your morning safari. Click here to book your stay at Jetwing Yala.
– Mahoora Tented Camp in Yala –
If you want to be closer to nature, stay at Mahoora Tented Camps to go glamping in Yala. The campsite is just a 10-minute drive away from one of the main Yala National Park entrances, so you can be one of the first people to drive into the park when it opens at 6 AM in the morning. The rooms are spacious and well decorated, as well as extremely clean. Bathrooms are attached to the tent and the tents are equipped with fans (but no A/C) for those steamy Yala days. The real highlight at Mahoora is their staff – each and every person is warm, helpful and always smiling. Click here to book your stay at Mahoora Tented Camps in Yala or click here for more accommodation options in Yala.
Things to see and do in the area: Go on a safari in Yala National Park.
Southern Sri Lanka is one of the most beautiful places in the country. Click here for more ideas for what to do in Sri Lanka’s deep south!
4. Western Province
The Western Province is where you will find Colombo, the country’s capital city, and Bandaranaike International Airport. This is likely where you’ll start or end your Sri Lanka trip, and there a number of great hotel options in this area.
– Colombo Hotel by Ceilao Villas –
This stylish family-run hotel has just 6 rooms, which makes it a perfect place to retreat to after a long day of sightseeing. Colombo Hotel by Ceilao Villas also offers 2 pools for you to cool off in (a smaller upper-tier dipping pool and a larger lower-tier pool) and breakfast on-demand anytime before noon. It’s perfect for couples traveling together, and if you are traveling with your family the hotel also offers larger rooms with a living room area complete with sofa and extra single bed. Click here to check current rates at Colombo Hotel!
– OZO Colombo –
OZO Colombo is a trendy hotel in the city that offers a great rooftop bar and pool facing the ocean and incredibly comfortable rooms. The decor is modern and the drinks are great – what more could you need? Click here to book your stay at OZO Colombo!
Things to see and do in the area: Visit Barefoot Gallery, fly a kite at Galle Face Green, see the Red Mosque, visit the Gangaramaya and Seema Malaka temples. Click here for my guide to exploring Colombo in 1 day!
– Jetwing Ayurveda Pavilions in Negombo –
Located just half an hour away from Colombo Bandaranaike International Airport is the bustling seaside town of Negombo. Though Negombo is not typically high up on the list of places to visit in Sri Lanka, it is home to Jetwing Ayurveda Pavilions, a leading Ayurvedic retreat and hotel in the country. Though it has no beach access, it goes offer a beautiful pool and Ayurveda spa.
The hotel’s location is convenient and offers incredibly easy access to the international airport. Click here to read my full review of the property, or click here to book your stay at Jetwing Ayurveda Pavilions!
– Anantara Kalutara in Kalutara –
Located along the southwest coast of Sri Lanka, Anantara Kalutara joins its sister property, Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle, as the newest Anantara hotel in Ceylon. Located only an hour and a half away from Colombo Bandaranaike International Airport, Anantara Kalutara is a wonderful retreat that will make your troubles seem so far away.
You can’t go wrong with the quality of service at Anantara properties, and the level of hospitality at Anantara Kalutara is no exception. If you want to truly feel pampered on your vacation, then look no further than Anantara. Click here to read my full review of the property or click here to book your stay at Anantara Kalutara!
– Avani Kalutara in Kalutara –
Avani Hotel is also managed by Minor Group, the parent company of Anantara. Avani Kalutara is located right next to Anantara Kalutara, and is a slightly more low-key property if you want a beach-side resort but a slightly lower price tag. It has direct beach access (note: the beach is public, as there are no private beaches in Sri Lanka) but the beach is not safe to swim in during the off season from May to about August. It does, however, have a pool, and the service is impeccable – their staff kindly arranged for a late check out as my flight wasn’t until midnight, and served me mojito after mojito as I got some work done at the bar. Like Anantara Kalutara, it is only 90 minutes away from the international airport in Colombo. Click here to check rates and availability at Avani Kalutara!
– Villa Dominikku in Negombo –
This small boutique guesthouse is located 15 minutes away from the international airport in Sri Lanka. Though it is basic, Villa Dominikku is perfect if you have an early flight/late arrival or need a safe, clean and tastefully decorated transit hotel in Sri Lanka. The owner, Dulshan, and his wife are extremely accommodating, friendly and they have a beautiful home. If you are a solo female traveler in Sri Lanka this is a great place to stay in Negombo and the owner can organize cheap airport transfers on your behalf. click here to check current rates and room availability at Villa Dominikku!
Looking for even more hotel options in Sri Lanka?
Booking.com allows you to filter your search by destination, facilities (desperate for a pool? Done!), rates and much more. Most hotels also offer a flexible cancellation policy so that you don’t lose out if your vacation plans change. Type in your destination into the search box now!
Ready to plan your trip? Click here for the perfect 2 week itinerary to Sri Lanka, or click here for more Sri Lanka travel and destination guides!
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