Where to Stay

The diversity of Sri Lanka is not limited to its nature and wildlife! If its accommodation you are interested in, then you are in luck. There’s something for everyone! Some years ago, the only places to stay in were star class hotels or local hotel corporation run guest houses which are basic but comfy. Thankfully things have improved drastically over the last decade. Let’s look at some of the options.

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Luxurious Boutique Hotels

Sri Lanka has a rich colonial heritage, especially in the island’s hill country. This has been the starting point for some small boutique hotels which have embraced this and breathed new life into the old planters’ bungalows. Once homes to British plantation owners and managers these bungalows have been restored to their former glory and service levels have been equally polished with rooms having their own butlers and very specialized services. Guests are able to travel back in time and enjoy their afternoons sipping fresh tea overlooking the velvet like tea plantations that spread as far as the eye can see. A unique chance to re live days gone by.

This same concept has been adopted through the island especially on the southern coastline and some locations in the cultural triangle where heritage properties and villas as well as modern chic hotels with small specialized inventories have opened their doors to guests who would like to experience luxury and excellent service. While some of these hotels emphasize on quiet tranquility there are others which are family friendly as well.

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Star Category Hotels

For those who are looking for a resort experience with more activity, large pools and buffets there is a wide range of family friendly Star category hotels to choose from. These range from 3 to 5 star hotels and are located through the country. Whist in recent times globally established hotel chains such as Shagri La, Hilton, Movenpick and Marriott have opened their doors here in Sri Lanka it is important to note that there are many local options to choose from.

Some renowned brands to look out for are Aitken Spence, Cinnamon Hotels and Jetwing Hotels. In addition to these there are many others as well. These Local Hotels offer a truly Sri Lankan Stay as most of them have been designed by word renowned Sri Lankan Architects and feature authentic Sri Lankan décor and design. For example the tea factory hotel in Nuwara Eliya (The heart of the tea country) is a re purposed tea factory which offers its guests unique insight to the region. Similarly the Kandalama hotel which was designed by the late Geoffrey Bawa is an architectural masterpiece which blends concrete seamlessly with the surrounding forest making it invisible from a distance. There are also award winning eco hotels that follow environmental best practices as well. It goes without saying that they all offer excellent service and hospitality.

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Rest Houses & Guest Houses

If you prefer simpler accommodation options, there is a selection of good guest houses around the island. However, it is important to note that the quality of the accommodation vary vastly as most of them are run by single owners and the taste and quality depend directly on their taste and preference.

There are still some regional rest houses owned and run by the Ceylon Hotel Corporation which maintain a good standard. Most of these are located in very scenic locations. A great example is the Belihul Oya Rest house which is located by the crystal-clear waters of the Belihul Oya stream. They offer clean and comfortable accommodation and good service.


Hostel culture is also on the rise. Many local and foreign owned hostels have been setup in hotspots such as Mirissa, Ella, Kandy, Colombo and Sigiriya. These hostels cater to the younger travelers who prefer to take life at their own pace. Each hostel has its own regional vibe. Especially the hostels on the coast feature the surfing culture. Guests have access to WIFI, and other amenities needed to work on the go.

Accommodation wise there is a choice of dorm style accommodation or private rooms with locker facilities. Most hostels offer breakfast and serve coffee and drinks through the day. Guests are free to cook their own meals if needed. Most often there are many good restaurants in the close vicinity and for those looking to explore there are bicycle and scooter rental facilities as well.

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For those looking to live like a local and experience some cultural immersion there’s no doubt that a home stay will be a good chance to do so!

There are many families who have opened their homes to visitors and are more than happy to accommodate them. This is a good chance to get under the skin of the country and see things from a local perspective. This works especially well during the various festive seasons where you get a chance to sample the delicious local delicacies and take part in the local customs.

Camp Sites

Sri Lanka has many National Parks and forest reserves and there are a wide range of camp sites that operate in these areas. These vary from basic tented accommodation to luxury camping with AC tents and 5 course meals. The top end cap sites offer the services of a naturalist and jeep safaris as well.