Sri Lanka is on a high and no wonder, it offers exotic landscapes, soft sand beaches and myriad luxurious hotels. So if you are tempted, here are five top picks:
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Boutique Jetwing Mahesa Bhawan, Jaffna, Northern Sri Lanka
A hidden gem of northern Sri Lanka. Steeped in history with a rich, vibrant culture Jaffna is an off the beaten track getaway for any intrepid traveller. This is no quick whirlwind tour, more something to savour. Soak up the atmosphere, explore a range of hidden wonders, from Buddhist temples and ruins to an island inhabited by rare wild horses.
Built in 1935 the original building was abandoned during the 30-year long war, used as a safe house by Tamal Tigers. It has been meticulously restored to its former glory and today stands elegant and proud offering guests a pool, spacious dining and living spaces (designed by the Cooray family themselves), and delicious authentic Jaffna food – which is unique to the region. You can travel by air in just 50 minutes from Columbo to Jaffna, however, the most accessible way to reach Jaffna overland is via train.
HOW MUCH: Doubles from £148 per night.
SOORIYA Resort & Spa, Southern Province of Sri Lanka
A small boutique, the SOORIYA Resort & Spa has 36 rooms, each with unobstructed views of the ocean and lush green surroundings. A pool and sun terrace also overlooks the ocean, as does a rooftop yoga area, giving your practice the most magnificent backdrop. The hotel has an Ayurveda Spa too.
This stunning resort is positioned on the southern coast of the island, a stone’s throw away from the Rekawa Sanctuary, famous for its Turtle Conservation Project and outstanding natural beauty. Showcasing an extremely unique position on the island, it is an excellent base for exploring from Yala Safari, where you can spot elephants, leopards, monkeys, to watching rare species of turtles who make their way from the water to nest on Rekawa beach.
HOW MUCH: Prices currently start from 100USD per room per night in the low season (subject to change).
Hotel Riu. Sri Lanka, Southwest Sri Lanka
The Riu Sri Lanka was inaugurated in 2016 in Ahungalla, a beautiful coastal town in the southwest of the country. It has 501 rooms and a 24-hour all-inclusive service, which means you are free to enjoy its wide range of dining options. Savour Asian specialities at the Kaori restaurant, Italian delicacies at La Forchetta or, alternatively, choose an alfresco barbecue in Saute. The hotel also has two buffet restaurants, Riti Panna and Ceylon, and comprehensive drink service at its four bars: Nuwara, The Purple Lounge, After Hours and Flamingos, the last of which is by the pool and has a swim-up bar.
There are three open-air swimming pools and one children’s pool. Relax in the sun on the hotel’s terraces or use the jacuzzi and gym. There is the Renova Spa wellness centre with a myriad of treatments.
Kids can go to the RiuLand mini-club with their new friends, while adults can enjoy a full entertainment schedule or get in shape in the RiuFit area.
HOW MUCH: Rooms from £167 per night.
Malabar Hill, Sri Lanka, Southwest Sri Lanka
Newly opened Malabar Hill is a nature-focused luxury resort in southwest Sri Lanka, close to the beaches of Mirissa and Weligama. Perched on a hilltop with spectacular panoramic views of the surrounding jungle and nearby coastline, the 33-acre site is renowned for its biodiversity and is home to a large number of endemic and other fauna and flora.
14 private villas are nestled in the jungle canopy, with floor to ceiling glass doors that open out onto private terraces, each with its own infinity pool. Features include air conditioning and ceiling fans, private sun deck and outside dining area, Wi-Fi, locally grown selection of teas and French coffee press, fully stocked mini-bar and refreshments, complimentary glass bottled water
Facilities include an open-air restaurant and bar, a 35-metre infinity pool overlooking the lush rice paddies, and plenty of indoor and outdoor lounge space, the ideal setting for daytime relaxing and long tropical evenings.
The property is home to wild boar, mongoose and langur monkeys, often visible from the infinity pool or private terraces, while the surrounding area rings with the melodies of a huge variety of wild bird species such as Oriole, Hornbill and Peacock.
The hotel is close to the Expressway exit so easy access to both international airports and set inland from the ocean but only a 15-minute drive to the nearest beaches of Mirissa and WeligamaSpa. A wellness spa will open at the end of October 2022.
HOW MUCH: Stay at Malabar Hill from £206 per person per night, in a private pool villa on a full board basis, including airport transfers.
Kahanda Kanda near Galle Fort
Secluded on hilltop location, Kahanda Kanda near the south coast beaches on a beautiful 12-acre working tea estate. Kahanda Kanda offers 12 individually designed villas, surrounded by exotic lush landscape overlooking Koggala Lake. Seven of the villas have their own pool. They come with big four-poster beds and are richly decorated with art and antiques and are mostly extremely private thanks to estate-facing terraces or verandas, creating a discrete and peaceful place to chill.
HOW MUCH: Double rooms from $350 (£266) in low season; and from $550 (£418) in high. Breakfast included. Free Wi-Fi.
Cantaloupe Levels, Unawatuna, Sri Lanka
This hotel started life as a private mansion then turned into a small, luxury, boutique hotel. It has a superb location in the coastal town of Unawatuna and is tucked away in a lush green forest and just minutes from the small sandy beach. Or just chill around a large pool surrounded by deckchairs and double beds. Read our full review here
HOW MUCH: From £137 per night