Galle Fort Hotel, Galle
UNESCO-listed, this elegant, 400-year-old mansion house located in the heart of Galle Fort is in a great location to explore Galle’s artisan shops, drop into cafes, wander the fort walls, visit the spice warehouse museum, admire churches or head to Galle’s international test cricket ground to catch a game.
With a pool to cool off from the day’s heat and a street-level terrace for people watching and sipping cool drinks, Galle Fort Hotel also has an arrack bar where you can try Sri Lankan’s favourite tipple. With just 14 airy suites, Galle Fort Hotel has a serene atmosphere, and the excellent restaurant takes inspiration from Sri Lanka’s spices, so expect some deliciously aromatic dishes.
Best For: Couples who want to spend a few days wandering around a characterful city.
Uga Chena Huts, Yala National Park
Although we’ve heard rumours of Yala National Park becoming busier with jeep safaris, this trip saw the park nicely quiet, meaning glimpses of elephants and opportunity to get up close to reptiles, bird life and plenty of monkeys.
At Uga Chena Huts you can expect a high quality of guides and rangers as you explore the park, dunes and coastal landscapes by jeep or on foot. The accommodation is nestled into the surrounding nature, the thatched domes camouflaging into the scenery. Despite its rustic outlook, the huts are comfort personified, each coming with a private pool. Alongside animal spotting, a highlight is a seafood feast under the stars on the beach.
Best For: Couples and families who appreciate the unique topography of a bordering nature reserve and the ocean, right alongside one another.
Thotalagala, Hill Country
Serene views and old-world charm characterise Thotalagala, a tea estate that overlooks the Haputale escarpment in southeast Sri Lanka, a tranquil stop on an itinerary exploring the island’s diverse sights.
Thotalagala offers an authentic look at a working tea plantation, where you can interact with tea pickers, look around the tea factory and take a tuk-tuk to nearby viewpoint Lipton’s Seat. Views from Thotalagala itself are breathtaking with clear days allowing a rolling vista all the way to the coast. A peaceful, off-the-tourist-trail stop, service at Thotalagala is warm and friendly allowing time to catch your breath and appreciate the diversity Sri Lanka affords on one trip.
Best For: Those that love never-ending views across Sri Lanka and relish the peace and quiet of a tranquil retreat.
Haritha Villas and Spa, Hikkaduwa
If you’ve ever fancied living in the jungle, then Haritha is the choice for you. Haritha Villas and Spa give you an opportunity to hide away in your own slice of verdant jungle, clasped in a patchwork of greens, sound tracked by the squawks of nature.
The resort is set back from the beach and benefits from beautiful jungle and sunset views. Scattered around the greenery-infused hotel are a collection mansions and bigger villas, each with their own pool, designed in a contemporary style using teak, stone, marble and polished concrete. The huge jade-green pool is the perfect place to relax and the extremely good restaurant serves an unscripted range of traditional ‘rice and curry’ dishes or seafood. The spa at Haritha Villas has an on-site Ayurveda practitioner, who’ll help you discover your ‘dosha’ (element) to then tailor soothing treatments.
Best For: Foodies who don’t mind not being directly by the beach; the villas also work well for multi-generational groups.