12 of the best boutique hotels in Sri Lanka
From Central Province temples and fortresses to lush tea-growing country, hill stations and coastal cities, Sri Lanka has wonderful attractions spread throughout its diverse landscapes. To help make your visit even more memorable, here is our guide to the best boutique hotels in Sri Lanka.
1. Kahanda Kanda, Koggala Lake
The first of our favourite boutique hotels, Kahanda Kanda combines a wild location with impressive architecture, beautifully designed guest rooms and a friendly welcome. Set at the peak of a pretty hill, surrounded by tea and coconut plantations, its location shows off Sri Lanka at its very best. On a good day, you can spot Koggala Lake, and on a bad, make do with spotting peacocks who roam the grounds. The hotel's bespoke villas are intricately designed, each with its own style and personal touches. Experience true relaxation at Kahanda Kanda as part of Insight Guides' Luxury Sri Lanka and The Maldives trip.
2. The Wallawa, Kotugoda
Close to Colombo and Bandaranaike International Airport, this boutique hotel makes for the perfect pitstop on your arrival in Sri Lanka. The Wallawa offers colonial charm and welcoming service, within a jungle setting. Guests can relax on nearby Negombo beach, explore the capital city or take advantage of the hotel's traditional spa.
3. Ceylon Tea Trails, Hill Country
What better way to take in the exquisite beauty of Sri Lanka than with a stay in the tea-growing country? Ceylon Tea Trails is comprised of just a handful of lavish bungalows inspired by the architecture and style of colonial-era tea planters. Nature lovers will feel right at home on the property, which features beautiful walking trails snaking through the area's famous tea gardens. Of all the boutique hotels in Sri Lanka, this one is just heavenly for a picnic or some quiet introspection. Experience it for yourself as part of Insight Guides' Sri Lanka Deluxe trip.
Ceylon Tea Trials was an easy choice for our selection of best boutique hotels in Sri Lanka. Photo: Ceylon Tea Trails
4. Forest Rock Garden Hotel, Anuradhapura
Where to start with the Forest Rock Garden Hotel? This boutique stay has relaxing facilities, perfectly decorated rooms and tranquil, natural surroundings. Savour the height of luxury in one of the hotel's seven unique guest rooms. Each is designed in a simple fashion, to aid the retreat's relaxing, mindful atmosphere, and comes complete with its own private pool.
5. Ellerton Bungalows, Kandy
A remote hotel well-and-truly off the beaten track. Due to its sublime, secluded location a 40-minute drive south of Kandy, finding Ellerton can be a challenge, but certainly worth it once you arrive. Originally the residence of a tea estate manager, this place oozes tradition and charm. It makes for a relaxing setting too: with individual bungalow residences for guests and an outdoor pool from where there are impressive views of the hills below.
6. Bougainvillea Retreat, Kandy
A peaceful retreat, surrounded by the Knuckles Moutain Range, Bougainvillea is a wonderfully relaxing location. Choose from independent cottages in the lush grounds or guest rooms within the boutique hotel's main building. With both a cool veranda and an infinity pool, you'll be spoilt for choice on where to kick back first. Visitors can also take advantage of the on-site spa facilities and yoga classes, or play a round at the nearby Victoria Golf and Country Resort.
A stay at The Fort Printers, Galle Fort, should be on your Sri Lanka holiday itinerary. Photo: The Fort Printers
7. Elephant Stables, Kandy
Housed in an old, colonial building converted into a stunning boutique hotel, Elephant Stables exudes a refined traditional charm. Formerly home to one of the island's most important aristocratic families, who kept their elephants in the garden (hence the name), the hotel sits surrounded by the majestic Knuckles Mountains, just a short drive from Kandy. Named after the island's spices, guest rooms are decked out in both British and Sri Lankan styles, mixing contemporary design with traditional interiors.
8. The Fort Printers, Galle Fort
One of the most enchanting places to stay in Sri Lanka, The Fort Printers dazzles guests with its rich history and stunning vistas. Did we mention that the site was once an 18th-century mansion? First a college, then a printing company, it's now an exclusive hotel featuring just 13 bedrooms. Seasoned visitors say that owner Shahzad Malik is the soul of The Fort Printers, treating each guest like royalty, while foodies will delight in the restaurant's vibrant menu of enticing traditional and modern dishes, emphasising locally-sourced seafood.
9. Cape Weligama, Weligama
Spread over 12 acres, the headland of Cape Weligama sits 40 metres above the Indian Ocean. From here, guests are invited to drink in the majestic Sri Lanka sunsets while the hypnotic waves crash below. Relaxing in the hotel's 60m-wide, crescent-shaped infinity pool while taking in the incredible views also makes for an experience like no other.
Clingendael's lush gardens are an ideal place to enjoy a game of croquet. Photo: Clingendael
10. Clingendael, Kandy
Only a 30-minute trip east of Kandy, Clingendael is an ideal boutique stay for those wanting to explore the ancient hill city. Its five individually designed suites present a tasteful mix of antique furniture and interesting artworks. Most importantly, they perfectly complement the hotel’s remote, tranquil and relaxing atmosphere.
When you’re tired from touring Kandy’s highlights, the hotel offers plenty of indulgent services. Unwind by the pool set amongst the hotel’s lush gardens, play a game of croquet or golf, try the on-site spa or experience a private yoga class... the choice is yours.
11. Colombo Court Hotel & Spa, Colombo
The Colombo Court Hotel & Spa is a unique urban hideaway nestled in an upmarket neighbourhood, just a 10-minute walk from the Majestic City shopping mall. This eco-friendly hotel is carbon free, and offers guests the chance to relax in a luxurious cosmopolitan environment, whilst embracing a sustainable lifestyle. The beautifully appointed rooms have been designed to suit the modern traveller, featuring contemporary amenities that celebrate the hotel's exclusive setting and presence. Spend your days being pampered at the spa, which offers a range of therapies and treatments. In the evening, relax over drinks at the rooftop Cloud Café, before dining on delicious European, Mediterranean and Asian dishes in Scarlet Restaurant.
The dazzling exterior of the Colombo Court Hotel & Spa. Photo: Colombo Court Hotel & Spa
12. Weir House, Ulapane
And lastly, but not least, less of a boutique hotel and more of a luxury villa, Weir House is a must-stay for groups or large families on their trip to Sri Lanka. Built on a mountainside in the Central Highlands, this place is all about switching off, getting back to nature and recharging. Set on six acres and with four bedrooms, the villa can accommodate up to eight people comfortably. With pretty gardens, a wading pool and plenty to do in the area (think scenic treks and exploring hill villages) we're sure you won't get bored.
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Updated 7 December, 2018