Best hotels in Sri Lanka for nature lovers

Planning a trip to Sri Lanka? If you're a nature lover, and love spotting wildlife, soaking up rugged landscapes and relaxing in natural surroundings, these top 11 hotels are for you...
The Mudhouse: one of Sri Lanka's best hotels for nature lovers
The Mudhouse: one of Sri Lanka's best hotels for nature lovers

Sri Lanka’s hotels range from boutique beauties in Galle to beachside yoga retreats. For those looking to get in touch with nature, these 11 hotels feature mountain views, tea plantations and outdoor adventures.

At Insight Guides, using our unrivalled expertise in the travel industry, we create tailor-made trips to all over the world. One of absolute favourite destinations is Sri Lanka. We can create your perfect trip to Sri Lanka including one – or even all! – of the hotels below. Get in touch with our experts today to plan your adventure.

1. Bar Reef Resort

Located on Sri Lanka’s northwest coastline, on a sprawling 2km (1-mile) stretch of sand, is Bar Reef Resort: a relaxing, romantic eco-retreat. Feel the sand between your toes as you step off your terrace and hear the rustling of palm leaves when you wake: this place will truly immerse you in your natural surroundings.

Choose from cosy garden or beach cabanas, or larger villas. Both options have a rustic feel with private terraces opening out onto either lush, tropical gardens or a sea view. The hotel’s infinity pool looks out onto the calm ocean, overlooked by lazy palm trees, offering another serene setting for guests.

At the right time of year, visitors can spot dolphins and whales from the shoreline, or head out on the water to snorkel, kayak or deep-sea fish.

2. 98 Acres Resort & Spa

This hotel looks like a lost paradise. The area was once a tea estate and is now home to a 98-acre hillside retreat. Charming chalets are nestled snuggly into their lush surroundings and overlook an impressive landscape and Little Adam’s Peak, which you can hike to from the hotel.

Made from recycled railway sleepers and thatched straw, with bathtubs and private balconies, 98 Acres' detached chalets offer guests rustic luxury at its finest.

Guests can explore the natural landscape on one of many hiking trails close by, cool off in the pool, bird watch or tour the tea gardens. Included on our Sri Lanka Family Adventure and our Unforgettable Sri Lanka itinerary too, you can book your stay at this unique resort now.

98 Acres offers guests a wild setting as one of Sri Lanka's best hotels for nature lovers98 Acres offers a wild and remote setting. Photo: 98 Acres

3. The Mudhouse

Blessed with natural beauty, The Mudhouse is probably the furthest you can get from the beaten track. Remote, private and seductive, The Mudhouse is surrounded by serene lakes, wildlife and birdlife, offering the perfect retreat to nature.

Environmentally-friendly, this place is ideal for eco-travellers looking for a sustainable way to tour Sri Lanka. The huts range in size, with furnishings tailored to the requirements of each guest or group. One thing’s for sure, with outdoor showers and lantern lit evenings, staying here is an experience unlike any other. 

Nearby nature trails offer endless opportunities for exploration, while lakeside picnics and cooking lessons are available for those looking to relax a little. Activities here are included in the overall price and can be organised without any pre-planning. Your meals are also included and prepared using the resort's own garden produce.

4. The Ark

Tucked away along the southwest coast and bordered by swathes of thick jungle, you’ll find The Ark: an elevated villa perched high on stilts to oversee the rolling valley and hills below. Featuring a cool infinity pool, terraces and epic floor-to-ceiling windows, you’ll feel immersed in your wild surroundings.

Hosting only three double rooms, this hotel is home to an exclusive but welcoming feel. The Ark is suited to eco-travellers, adventure-seekers and those looking for a relaxing hideaway in equal measure. An on-site chef can also rustle up dishes at your command, from home comforts to Sri Lankan specialities, all using fresh, local ingredients.

While away your days exploring the hotel’s 40 acres of private reserve, walking nature trails, bird watching, or photographing wildlife.

The Ark's elevated villa offers incredible views of the valley below. Photo: The Ark

5. Melheim Resort

With tea plantations and cloud forests for neighbours, the setting for the Melheim Resort is secluded and serene. Perfect for spotting the local wildlife, natural landscapes and simply getting out into the great outdoors.

Perched on a mountainside, in the hills of Beregala, Melheim has been structured in such a way so guests can see the sun rising over nearby peaks in the east as it lights up the impressive landscape below. The views here are simply breathtaking. 

Rooms are decorated with mindfulness, simplicity and relaxation at their heart; prepare to leave feeling restored and at one with your surroundings.

6. Gal Oya Lodge

Ssshhh! We’re going to let you in on a little secret: while travellers flock to Yala and Bundala National Parks, Gal Oya remains relatively tourist-free. Home to the country’s largest lake, you can tour the waters on a boat safari spotting wildlife as you cruise.

The best bit? Gal Oya Lodge is the only place to stay within the national park and specialises in high-end, environmentally-friendly tourism. Constructed from locally-sourced and often recycled materials, the 9-room lodge offers the perfect place to get back to nature. Plus, visitors can experience jungle drives, naturalist walks, or simply relaxing by the pool. Join Insight Guides' Wild and Wonderful Sri Lanka holiday to stay in this unique location.

The rooms at Gal Oya lodge offer a rustic, natural interior The rooms at Gal Oya lodge feature rustic, natural interiors. Photo: Gal Oya Lodge 

7. Wild Grass

Located in the remote, rugged Kandalama hills, Wild Grass is a natural hideaway set in 30-acres of jungle. With views of mountains, lush vegetation and a nearby lake, this setting is a nature lover’s dream. With only eight exclusive villas, privacy and relaxation are a given for all guests. Materials are sourced locally, where possible, to reduce environmental impact, and with floor-to-ceiling windows, you feel enveloped in the natural surroundings. 

Wildlife watchers can spot monkeys, wild boar, deer, peacocks, and over 40 species of bird, which all inhabit the resort's grounds. Slightly further afield, around a 20-minute drive, are two of Sri Lanka's main attractions: Sigiriya Rock and Dambulla Cave Temples.

Experience all this and more for yourself on Insight Guides' Sri Lanka: Culture and Coast holiday.

8. Mas Villa

Mas Villa offers visitors a stylish way to relax in natural surroundings, close to Kandy. The manor house, originally built in the early 19th century, hosts seven luxurious, beautiful bedrooms. Set in lush, quiet, tropical gardens, home to exotic birds and wildlife, you’ll find many walking trails to keep you busy. 

Alternatively, mountain bikes are available for the more adventurous traveller and an on-site spa for those looking to recharge. The star-gazing here is also a highlight; make sure you spend one night admiring the crystal-clear skies. Whatever you do, make time to take dinner on the veranda, overlooking the glorious views; you won’t be left disappointed. 

Ulagalla Resort, one of the best hotels in Sri LankaThe Ulagalla Resort features eco-friendly villas. Photo: Ulagalla Resort

9. Ulagalla Resort

The centrepiece here is a 150-year-old mansion encircled by 20 private, ecologically-built villas spread across 58 acres of lush greenery, paddyfields and woodland. With its own solar farm generating half of its entire energy requirements, Ulagalla Resort is truly a unique stay in Sri Lanka.

Activities on offer for guests include bird watching, cycling, full-moon day (poya) visit to the Veheragalla Buddhist temple for meditation, yoga, kayaking and horseback riding.  It also makes for the perfect base to explore Anuradhapura, part of Cultural Triangle and a highlight on your trip to Sri Lanka.

10. Illuketia

Illuketia is the perfect base for travellers looking for a hotel close to Galle but wanting to remain in natural surroundings. Almost 200 years old, this historic plantation house comes with character and an incredible setting too. Overlooking stunning gardens, paddy fields, tea estates and Sinhalese villages, the view from your room certainly won’t disappoint.

Rooms are bright and big with high ceilings and tasteful decorations, and only six on-site ensures a personal stay for each guest. The hotel’s pool cloaked in bushy palms and thick jungle, is an experience like no other.

Guests have the chance to spot 156 bird species, over 550 plants, 20 mammals and a variety of reptiles all living on the estate.

With a view like this, Madulkelle is an obvious choice for one of Sri Lanka's best hotels for nature loversThe rooms at Madulkelle boast impressive views over the Knuckles Mountain range. Photo: Madulkelle Tea & Eco-Lodge

11. Madulkelle Tea & Eco-Lodge

The Knuckles mountain range is an unmissable stop on your trip to Sri Lanka and the Madulkelle Tea & Eco Resort is the only place to stay while you explore. A colonial-style plantation, it combines old world charm with modern day comforts, and tastefully too. The site’s 18 secluded 'lodges', each with its own balcony overlooking the tea garden, are comfortable, authentic and… Actually luxury tents imported from South Africa. Don’t let this deter you, though: imagine waking up to birdsong and mists clearing over the valleys below each morning. Bliss. Included on Insight Guides' suggested Perfectly Sri Lanka itinerary, you can take a trip to Madulkelle now.

Activities available here include touring tea factories, tucking into the delicious on-site food and lounging by the infinity pool. Our favourite thing to do? Observing the region’s grand mountain range on some of the country’s best trekking trails.

This article was originally published on 2nd September, 2016

Taking a trip to Sri Lanka: how to get started

At Insight Guides, we have been empowering travellers with unique knowledge for over 40 years. We can help you with the planning and booking of your trip to Sri Lanka. You can browse our existing trips to Sri Lanka here. Alternatively, simply get in touch with us, tell us your interests and budget, and our local experts will tailor a Sri Lankan itinerary to your suit your individual tastes. You can then adjust your itinerary until you are completely happy with it!

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