A firm fixture on the hippie trail in the ’60s and ’70s, Hikkaduwa is still a busy backpacker town – packed with beach bars, restaurants and Sri Lankan shops selling baggy traveller pants. You don’t have to be a party animal to enjoy it here, though: this is one of the south’s most popular surfing spots and there are guesthouses and hotels to suit all travel styles and budgets. Read on to find your perfect Hikkaduwa hotel.
Close enough to Hikkaduwa town to still be part of the action, but far enough away to imbue a sense of serenity, Roman Beach is a stylish six-bedroom boutique ideal for couples. Too shy to share everything with your other half? You might want to pull down the blinds on your bathroom’s glass walls. The hotel backs on to Narigama Beach, and the palm-fringed pool overlooks the waves.
The brainchild of Vinod Jayasinghe – who trained with renowned Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa – Riff Hikkaduwa is a showstopper: think clean lines, muted greige fabrics and rich, hardwood furniture. You can flit back and forth between the infinity pool and white sandy beach to your heart’s content, before toasting your great taste in hotels at the expansive rooftop bar.
Poshtel. Boutique hostel. Flashpacker magnet. Whatever you want to call it, Lazy Koala is a far cry from the bedbug-ridden backpacker hubs of yore. Whether you book a private double or a comfy four-bed dorm, this is the place to surf, meet other travellers, try a yoga class or simply chill the heck out – without breaking the bank.
If you’re happy to forego a beachfront location in exchange for a forest idyll, look no further. Garcinia Leaf is a tropical haven away from the hubbub of central Hikkaduwa, where staff will go out of their way to welcome you. The jungly pool and jacuzzi is a great spot to bird watch, or you could borrow a bike to go on your own mini cycle safari.
At Ease Beach Hotel is run by husband-and-wife team Dinesh and Merete. Its location at the quieter end of Hikkaduwa’s coastline makes it ideal for families or couples looking to sidestep the town’s buzzy nightlife. They run beach barbecues every Friday and if you accidentally enjoy one Lion beer too many, you can always sleep it off the next day in one of the shady, little beach huts.
On the shores of Hikkaduwa Lake, Asian Jewel Boutique Hotel offers respite from the buzzing coast with its friendly, personal service and modest pool. The decor is a little dated, but rooms are generously sized and the retro jukebox in the lounge is a nice touch. The onsite restaurant is popular – where else in Sri Lanka can you find a decent Sunday roast?
This 200-year-old colonial-style bungalow on the banks of Rathgama Lake is a luxurious escape from hectic Hikkaduwa. Sinahlese antiques and art by local artist Laki Senanayake are complemented by Iranian carpets and Turkish lights, all sourced by owners Mo and Niloo. With just three ensuite rooms, you’ll have almost exclusive access to the private pool and lakeside deck – the latter is perfect for sunset picnics.
‘Shanthi’ means peace in Sanskrit, and you’ll certainly find it here. Five huge guest rooms overlook a turquoise pool lined with frangipani, mango and jackfruit trees, and the beach is just a 10-minute walk away. Owner Verena is a qualified yoga teacher and is more than happy to lead meditation or stretching sessions on the breezy upper veranda whenever she’s in town – she also runs yoga retreats here, too.
Just a few minutes inland from the bleached sands of Narigama, Dreamtime is the ultimate Instagrammable oasis. Whether you opt for a budget tropical room or plunge pool cabana, the polished concrete spaces are minimalist (in a good way) and make the surrounding greenery look even more luscious. Laze in a hammock by the slimline pool, or book a surf lesson.