Jaffna, in the far north of Sri Lanka, suffered badly during the civil war but is now enjoying something of a revival. The massive fort is undergoing restoration and nearby are pristine beaches and many Hindu temples.
The Jetwing Jaffna Hotel is situated right in the middle of the action, close to the lively market, the bus stand and the railway station. Yet it’s surprisingly quiet and calm, partly because it rises seven stories above the city.
This is a haven of luxury in this bustling city and inside all is handcrafted décor in muted northern colours. It feels almost like an Indian temple, with the art on the walls depicting stories from the region’s long history, yet the furnishings and fixtures bring it back up to date.
Since it’s one of the tallest buildings in Jaffna, the view from your private balcony is one of the best in the peninsula – gaze over the city to the lagoon and the lands beyond, following the flights of many seabirds. Or climb up to the open-air bar on the roof and enjoy a sundowner as the sky turns crimson.
Business and leisure travellers.
The 55 deluxe rooms are decorated with traditional art and furnished in rustic northern colours. All have air conditioning, ceiling fans, mini-bar, tea and coffee making facilities, LCD TV with satellite channels and 24-hour room service. Bathrobes and slippers are supplied and there are custom toiletries and a rain shower. We stayed in a deluxe room on the fourth floor with a balcony overlooking the lagoon.
Food & Drink
The Peninsula Restaurant is the city’s fine dining restaurant. It features Jaffna specialities including its famous crab curry and Odiyal Kool, a seafood broth. Fish, cuttlefish and prawns are accompanied by a selection of rice, thosai, string hoppers and pittu. There’s also a weekly Indian buffet evening and international dishes are also on the menu.
On the top floor, there’s the open-air Jaffna Sky Lounge, with stunning views of the city. It’s one of the few places in the city to serve alcohol. Drink draft Lion beer, during happy hour, enjoy the cool breeze and savour the sunset.
Laundry, parking, babysitting and a conference room are all available. There’s no pool but you can hire one of the hotel’s bikes and cycle to the nearby beaches
Rooms start from £170 for a double including breakfast.
Next to the hotel is a large supermarket and a Cineplex showcasing the latest International and Tamil films. Within walking distance are the city’s lively market, railway and bus terminal as well as the iconic Jaffna Fort and Jaffna Library.
To the west of the city are clusters of small islands linked by causeways, easily accessible by bicycle or tuk-tuk. The sea is shallow here but Casuarina Beach is probably the best place for a dip. Further afield, connected to the mainland by ferry, are the islands of Nagadeepa and Delft, home to herds of wild horses. The Jaffna Peninsula is scattered with Hindu temples and pilgrims flock to the sacred waters of Keerimalai to bathe.
This is a city centre luxury hotel with all facilities including a great restaurant and vibrant rooftop bar. It’s suitable for both business and leisure travellers and service is outstanding. It makes a comfortable base for a city stay or for extensive explorations of the Jaffna Peninsula and its islands.