You don’t need to venture far from Ella – a quiet mountain village peppered with temples and tea rooms – to find a valley awash with waterfalls, green tea plantations and hiking trails galore. It’s just a few hours from Colombo, but far enough away to feel immersed in Sri Lankan nature. From eco lodges and jungle resorts to homely B&Bs, these are some of the best places to stay in Ella, all bookable with Culture Trip.
There’s a subtle railway theme at Ekho Ella, where homely rooms feature ‘1st class sleeping berths’ (beds) and ‘observation saloons’ (windows). Gimmicks aside, the scenery takes centre stage. Nab a plush lounger on the grassy lawn to take in some of the very best views of the valley and Ella Gap, where layer upon layer of hilly silhouettes fade into the misty distance.
Want to watch the sunrise over Little Adam’s Peak without getting out of bed? You can do just that at Ella’s Edge Resort; each of its large, clean rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows and balconies looking out over the Ella Gap. It’s an easy walk to reach Ella town – don’t miss a generous dinner of rice and curry at Matey Hut.
Ella Nature View overlooks a cascading waterfall and jungle shrouded mountains. The modern rooms are great value – even the showers have show-stopping views. Want to get out there? You can reach the top of Ella Rock in less than two hours from town – ask the friendly staff for the best routes up it (tip: you don’t need a guide).
The huge mountain-view chalets and suites at The Secret Ella have freestanding tubs and private terraces. Tour the hotel’s 10-acre (4ha) tea estate, soak up the sensational views from the infinity pool, or opt to get pampered at the spa inside the hotel’s sister property, 98 Acres Resort. Keen photographer? Take your camera to the Nine Arches Bridge to capture colourful passenger-packed trains trundling across the scenic viaduct.
Say ayubowan (hello) to dreamy valley views and romantic seclusion at 98 Acres Resort and Spa. The 28 rooms here have been made with upcycled and reclaimed local materials, but you wouldn’t know it – this is eco-luxury at its most stylish. Think soaring ceilings, stone bathrooms and a cocktail bar hewn from railway sleepers. The steep but scenic hikes up to Little Adam’s Peak and Ella Rock viewpoints are both within easy reach, but if that sounds too much like hard work, you can enjoy the panorama from the free-form pool.
The budget-friendly Tenth Hotel is a dusty 10-minute walk from Ella’s train station and main cluster of restaurants. Rooms have terrazzo floors, private balconies and killer mountain views. This may be tea country, but tea alone won’t fill you up after a strenuous hike up Little Adam’s Peak. Book ahead to join a cooking class at Ella Spice Garden, where you’ll learn about Sri Lankan condiments, pick fresh herbs and spices, and add them to your very own curry.
The clean, white rooms at Grand Peak Hotel feature comfy beds and broad shared balconies. Sonny and his wife are gracious hosts and can help you arrange transport and activities around Ella and beyond. From here, it’s a short hike to the Nine Arch Bridge. Swing by Newburgh Estate Tea Factory to rehydrate on some of the region’s finest green teas, while learning how they’re grown and processed.
Like to arrive in style? It takes an off-road drive and cable car to reach Ella Jungle Resort, which spans 150 acres (61ha) of lush valley between Ella and Wellawaya. Due to the resort’s remote location, it’s not the best base for sightseeing. Luckily, there’s lots to do within the resort, from getting your hands dirty at the organic farm (the fruits of which you’ll find at the vegetarian restaurant), to yoga, canyoning and ziplining.
With modern guest rooms and a rooftop breakfast platform offering views of Little Adam’s Peak, Hiker’s Lodge is a practical spot to rest and recuperate between hill treks and tea tours. Ella’s classic trails and tea plantations are all on your doorstep. Save time for a trip to the region’s glorious waterfalls too – Ella, after all, means ‘waterfall’ in Sinhalese; hire a driver to take you to the impressive Ravana Falls or the (not-so-) Secret Waterfall, south of town.
This is an updated version of an article originally by Orana Velarde.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.