The Top Boutique Hotels in Sri Lanka

The pool at the Jetwing Vil Uyana feels like it’s part of the natural environment
The pool at the Jetwing Vil Uyana feels like it’s part of the natural environment | Courtesy of Jetwing Vil Uyana / Booking.com
Photo of A. J. Samuels
25 May 2021

From misty highland tea plantations to the sun-baked southern coast, Sri Lanka is a powerhouse of cultural and natural wonders. Whether you’re here to explore Unesco-badged Sigiriya, surf at Ahangama or spot leopards at Yala National Park, your visit will be all the more memorable if you stay at one of the incredible boutique hotels on the island. Here’s our pick – bookable with Culture Trip.

Kandy House, Kandy

Luxury, Boutique Hotel
147081853
Courtesy of Kandy House / Booking.com
From $374 Per night per room

This modernised 18th-century colonial manor is one of the most romantic boutique hotels in Kandy. Each of the nine bedrooms features a carved wooden four-poster bed, vibrant silks and unusual antiques. The place is popular with honeymooners, who frolic in the jungle-fringed pool or bliss out with Ayurvedic massages on the open-air platform overlooking neighbouring paddy fields. The must-see Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic is a 20-minute drive away – borrow a bike if you’re happy to brave the traffic.

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Taru Villas – The Long House, Bentota

Boutique Hotel
4/5 (1 Reviews)
149953057
Courtesy of Taru Villas – The Long House / Booking.com
From $302 Per night per room

The Long House occupies a long, thin stretch of land steps from Bentota Beach, hence the name. But you won’t feel squeezed into the generous bedrooms, with their airy bathrooms and wide terraces. Nor will the skinny pool disappoint – it’s ideal for swimming laps. Need a break from sunbathing and beachcombing? Head an hour south to Unesco-listed Galle to wander colonial old-town streets and do a spot of boutique shopping.

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The Wallawwa, Kotugoda

Luxury, Boutique Hotel, Spa Hotel
4.6/5 (50 Reviews)
237260646
Courtesy of The Wallawwa / Booking.com
From $386 Per night per room

The Bandaranaike International Airport may only be a 15-minute drive away, but the Wallawwa’s tropical garden pool and monastery-like courtyard lined with columns will convince you otherwise. Rest up in your opulent room (even the smallest feature four-poster beds and garden terraces), get a pre- or post-flight massage at the serene spa or take a trip to nearby Negombo to visit the local fish market and lounge on the beach.

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Saman Villas, Bentota

Boutique Hotel
4.7/5 (40 Reviews)
147981881
Courtesy of Saman Villas / Booking.com
From $351 Per night per room

Saman Villas near Bentota has been impressing honeymooners and high rollers for more than 25 years – but the grandeur hasn’t faded. Designed by a student of renowned architect Geoffrey Bawa, the timeless tropical modern suites all have Indian Ocean views, terraces and bathrooms with oversize tubs. Many also have a private pool, meaning you’ll often have the clifftop infinity pool all to yourself. Prefer saltwater? The hotel is sandwiched between two blissfully quiet beaches.

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Buckingham Place, Tangalle

Boutique Hotel
4.9/5 (127 Reviews)
288249540
Courtesy of Buckingham Place / Booking.com
From $231 Per night per room

No, that isn’t a misspelling, but you’ll be treated like royalty at Buckingham Place, thanks to the courteous staff and dedication of the friendly host, Nick Buckingham. Sitting on a sliver of land between the wild (unswimmable) Indian Ocean and Rekawa Lagoon, 20 minutes east of Tangalle, this south-coast getaway is ideal for couples seeking seclusion. Keep an eye out for Rocky-Ginger, the resort’s rescue pony.

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Maniumpathy, Colombo

Boutique Hotel
4.9/5 (19 Reviews)
85863432
Courtesy of Maniumpathy / Booking.com
From $210 Per night per room

Just off busy Kynsey Road, on the edge of the upscale Cinnamon Gardens district in Colombo, Maniumpathy offers a calming respite from the frenetic streets of the Sri Lankan capital. You’ll stay in one of eight colonial-style rooms, where a personal butler will be on hand to assist with your every need. Sip fresh papaya juice by the little courtyard pool, chow down on Jaffna-inspired curries at the raved-about restaurant or join a walking tour of Colombo to get your bearings.

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Jetwing Vil Uyana, Sigiriya

Luxury, Boutique Hotel, Eco Hotel
4.7/5 (44 Reviews)
84998666
Courtesy of Jetwing Vil Uyana / Booking.com
From $683 Per night per room

Jetwing Vil Uyana comprises multiple thatched-roof dwellings that sit within forests and paddy fields; some are elevated above the marshlands and water. The lush natural environment is host to diverse wildlife, and there’s even a tame crocodile that might join you for breakfast. Nearby are the cultural cities of Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura, as well as craft villages. However, set some time aside to tour the Unesco-heralded ruins of Sigiriya, just 8km (5mi) away.

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Paradise Road the Villa Bentota, Bentota

Boutique Hotel
200980286
Courtesy of Paradise Road the Villa Bentota / Booking.com

A pioneer of tropical modernism, the Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa was one of the most influential designers of his generation. In the 1970s, he renovated this formally dilapidated 19th-century house into one of the first boutique hotels in the country. It’s since been updated again to feature an amalgam of sleek modernities and historical touches. The nearby waters are crystal clear and teem with tropical fish, making the area a haven for beachgoers and watersports fanatics.

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Ceylon Tea Trails, Hatton

Boutique Hotel, Lodge
Ceylon_Tea_Trails
Courtesy of Ceylon Tea Trails / Expedia

The cloud forests of inland Sri Lanka are home to leopards, monkeys and deer, and you can admire them from the five converted plantation bungalows that make up Ceylon Tea Trails. Perched around the Bogawantalawa Valley, these colonial buildings provide a sense of elegance and history, and each comes with a butler and a freshwater pool. You can also walk, trek and cycle around the surrounding tea plantations that cover the dipping and rolling lands of Hill Country.

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  • Galle Fort Hotel, Galle

    Boutique Hotel
    4.6/5 (71 Reviews)
    47329366
    Courtesy of Galle Fort Hotel / Booking.com

    Sitting within Galle Fort, this building was once a Dutch mansion before becoming a warehouse, a bakery and military barracks. In 2003, a restoration converted it into the boutique hotel of today. The rooms blend modern amenities with authentic and romantic Sri Lankan design undertones. Close to beautiful beaches and places to explore the town’s history, Galle Fort Hotel is a luxurious and relaxing spot from which to enjoy the full cultural spectrum of Sri Lanka.

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    Kahanda Kanda, Galle

    Luxury, Boutique Hotel
    4.9/5 (14 Reviews)
    188690136
    Courtesy of Kahanda Kanda / Booking.com
    From $138 Per night per room

    Kahanda Kanda places emphasis on its environmental and social responsibilities. Its hotel policies are deeply connected to the community, even funding the construction of a school to improve local education. The hotel itself is a luxurious combination of intimacy, creative design and natural surroundings, and there are 12 suites and villas, each with a different character. Sitting on the fringes of the jungle, it’s within easy reach of Galle Fort and beautiful beaches.

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    Deco on 44, Galle

    Boutique Hotel
    4.3/5 (47 Reviews)
    119699117
    Courtesy of Deco on 44 / Booking.com

    As one of the only art deco hotels in Sri Lanka, Deco on 44 stands out. Built in the 1930s by a gem merchant, the hotel respects the style of its history while incorporating contemporary design details and convenient mod cons. The theme of each room centres around art and comfort, with a highly individual style. The hotel is known for having attentive staff, a central location and fresh cuisine often accompanied by an explanation from the chef.

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    Amangalla, Galle

    Boutique Hotel, Resort, Hotel
    Traditional dark wood lounge and old-fashioned colonial style interior of the luxurious colonial up-market 5 star Amangalla Hotel, Galle, Sri Lanka
    © Graham Prentice / Alamy Stock Photo

    Focussing on Sri Lankan design traditions, Amangalla preserves a sense of history with antique furniture, intricate wood carvings and old prints, while the Dutch colonial exterior is as fascinating as the inside. Only a tuk-tuk ride from the historic town of Galle and the Galle Fort, the hotel captures the cultural essence of this area. And, when you’re done exploring, try the cream teas – best enjoyed on the terrace.

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    Maya, Tangalle

    Hotel
    4.8/5 (4 Reviews)

    A blend of Dutch and British colonial architecture, this Sri Lankan manor house gives an insight into the architectural style of 19th-century properties. The interior has been renovated with stylish, minimalist touches alive with novelty. You can easily drive to the surrounding beaches for whale watching or the ancient temple Mulkirigala Raja Maha Vihara.

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    Emma Sparks contributed additional reporting to this article.

    These recommendations were updated on May 25, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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