The Best Hotels to Book in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka

The Sanctuary at Tissawewa is a retreat like no other
The Sanctuary at Tissawewa is a retreat like no other | © The Sanctuary at Tissawewa / Expedia
Daniel Stables

Anuradhapura was an ancient capital of Sri Lanka, seat of the mighty Rajarata kingdom. It remains a major city, but is most famous to tourists for its temples and ruins, which rank among the country’s most atmospheric sights. Our choice of the best hotels to book in Anuradhapura include luxurious 19th-century villas and modern hotels surrounded by forests and lakes, all promising to make your time in Sri Lanka unforgettable. Book now on Culture Trip.

1. The Sanctuary at Tissawewa, for organised excursions


The exterior of the Sanctuary at Tissawewa as seen from a paved entrance; balcony rooms can be seen next to an archway through which cars can enter
© The Sanctuary at Tissawewa / Expedia

“Sanctuary” is an apt name for this attractive hotel, housed in a villa-style property surrounded by lush gardens. The building dates to the 19th century and the rooms, with their rich teak floors and (in some) four-poster beds pay homage to that heritage. Excursions to the ancient city of Anuradhapura and Isurumuniya rock temple can be arranged through the hotel.

2. Rajarata Hotel, for modern luxury


The exterior of the Rajarata Hotel, including high pillars and an ornate wall carving; the white interiors can also be seen through its tall glass frontage, including a staircase to the upper level
© Rajarata Hotel / Expedia

Welcoming travellers since the 1970s, this hotel is an Anuradhapura institution. Rooms have a classic feel and dark wood furnishings, while the three restaurants include Sweet Crib Lounge, where afternoon tea includes the finest Ceylon blends. Tours are on offer to the ancient sites of Anuradhapura, Sigiriya rock and Mihintale monastery, led by expert anthropologists who will educate and entertain you.

3. The Lake Forest Hotel, for nature on your doorstep


The exterior of the Lake Forest Hotel, including (from left to right): an outdoor pool with wooden decking and seating, a tree-lined patch of grass, and a lake
© Lake Forest Hotel / Expedia

The name says it all: surrounded by verdant forest and set on the shores of a serene, mirror-like lake, this hotel brings together the natural beauty for which Sri Lanka is famous. Rooms feature four-poster beds and terraces looking out over jungle or the water. Yoga sessions are held during the day, before jazz evenings kick things off as the sun goes down.

4. Aryana Hotel, for a secret oasis


The outdoor pool of the Aryana Hotel, surrounded by doors (some wooden, some glass) into various rooms, as well as mixed greenery
© Aryana Hotel / Expedia

Rooms at this relaxed hotel have a classic feel, with wooden floors and ceilings, and traditional Sri Lankan artwork adorning the walls. Balconies overlook a garden with a lovely outdoor pool, while the restaurant serves classic Sri Lankan food including hoppers (breakfast rice pancakes). The famous twin ponds of Kuttam Pokuna are a short drive away.

5. Hotel 4 U Saliya Garden, for a peaceful paradise


The roomy outdoor pool of Hotel 4 U Saliya Garden, surrounded by a surfeit of foliage and various seating options
© Hotel 4 U Saliya Garden / Expedia

Eco-conscious travellers will love this hotel, which features hardwood flooring in the guest rooms made from local kumbuk trees – some of which you’ll see around the outdoor pool and the gardens. A relaxing spa uses organic botanical ingredients, while the restaurant specialises in succulent seafood. Tours of nearby Wiplattu National Park, home to leopards, elephants and sloth bears, can be arranged.

6. Waasala Leisure, for an eco-friendly stay


The exterior of Waasala Leisure, with an arched entrance surrounded by lush greenery and flowers; an upper and lower floor can be seen
© WAASALA Leisure / Expedia

Committed to environmentalism, green tourism and social initiatives, this hotel offers a stylish stay with a conscience. Rooms are very comfortable, each featuring wall art depicting a different local archaeological site, while much of the delicious food at the restaurant is made using ingredients grown on the hotel’s own farm. A tuk tuk trip to the ancient holy mountain of Mihintale is among the enjoyable excursions on offer.

7. Great Wall Tourist Rest, for bucolic bliss


The grassy courtard and exterior of Great Wall Tourist Rest; various seating options include three chairs placed by a table near tall trees
© Great Wall Tourist Rest / Expedia

This lovely whitewashed villa, with sloping tiled roofs and dark wood shutters and furniture, is a supremely relaxing place to lay your head. Rooms have pleasant tiled bathrooms and open onto a colonnaded porch, with communal seating areas and a dining table at which delicious Sri Lankan curries are served. The hotel is half an hour’s walk or a short drive from the ancient sites at Anuradhapura.

8. Mindana Residence, for a home from home


The exterior of Mindana Residence at night; balconies on its three floors are lit from their walls, with various plants scattered in pots
© Mindana Residence / Expedia

A guesthouse in modern Anuradhapura, Mindana Residence features comfortable rooms with a modern, minimalist style. Some have their own kitchenettes, and every one has its own living and dining area. Days start in the best way possible, with a hearty, home-cooked Sri Lankan breakfast: hoppers and roti accompanied by a selection of rich curries.

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