Rice Paddies and Cloud Forests: The Top Ten Boutique Hotels in Sri Lanka
by Jetwing · Published · Updated
From Portuguese to Dutch to British colonizations, Sri Lanka has a turbulent and colourful history that has left cultural and architectural traces. Religion and ethnicity is just as varied and the combination of these ingredients creates a cultural concoction not easily forgotten. Its tea plantations, rice paddies, cloud forests and beaches provide a beautiful and ever-changing backdrop; views which visitors can enjoy from our top ten hotels in Sri Lanka.
As a beautiful example of ancient settlements and urban planning, Lion Rock is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the hotel Jetwing Vil Uyana could not be in a better location for visiting the famous rock. The hotel itself is made up of dwellings that sit within the surrounding forests and paddy fields, at times elevated above the marsh lands and water. Its lush natural environment is host to diverse wildlife, and there is even a tame crocodile who joins guests for breakfast. The hotel arranges visits to the cultural cities of Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura as well as crafts villages for the opportunity to try their hand at traditional Sri Lankan crafts.
The Villa Bentota
As a pioneer of ‘tropical modernism’, the Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa is famed for being one of the most influential architects of his generation. In the 1970s he was responsible for renovating the dilapidated 19th century house, and since, The Villa Bentota further updated to feature an amalgam of sleek modernities with historical touches. The nearby waters are crystal clear and teem with tropical fish making the area of Bentota a haven for beach goers and water sport fanatics. The hotel manages to merge traditional and modern Sri Lankan design with luxury quality and natural surroundings.
Ceylon Tea Trails
Guests can walk, trek and cycle around the surrounding tea plantations covering the dipping and rolling lands of Hill Country. The cloud forests of inland Sri Lanka are home to leopards, monkeys and deer, and can be admired from the converted plantation bungalows that make up hotel Ceylon Tea Trails. Perched around lake Bogawantalawa Valley, these colonial buildings provide a sense of elegance and history, and each one comes with a butler and fresh water pool.
Kulu Safaris Sri Lanka
Kulu Safaris bring quality to camping by providing a tent fitted with a queen sized bed and lounge. The safari guides are knowledegable about the jungle and its inhabitants, and are proficient in guiding tourists to spots rich with elephants, leopards, bears and exotic birds. This safari experience is highly recommended for its cuisine, as the chefs cook up dishes full of Sri Lankan flavours. Basic but homely, the overall experience provides guests with an exceptional insight into Sri Lankan nature at its most primitive level, with an emphasis on eduction and conservation of the surrounding jungle.
Galle Fort Hotel
Galle Fort is a historical town fortified by the Dutch in the 17th century. Known for its architectural and archeological significance, the town is being considered for UNESCO World Heritage Site status. Situated relatively nearby is this quaint hotel which was awarded the title of Sri Lanka’s leading boutique hotel in 2010. The rooms are designed with a flare for the modern crossed with authentic and romantic Sri Lankan design undertones. Close to the beauty of the beaches and the history of the town, Galle Fort Hotel is a luxurious and relaxing place from which to enjoy Sri Lanka’s cultural spectrum.
Kahanda Kanda places emphasis on the environmental and social responsibilities of the hotel. Their policies are deeply connected to the community, and they are currently in the process of funding the construction of a school to improve local education. The hotel itself is a luxurious combination of intimacy, creative design and natural surroundings. This small accommodation has only eight suites, each one with a different character such as the Peacock and Mango themes rooms. The hotel nestles on the fringes of the jungle and is in easy reach of the historic town Galle Fort, as well as beautiful beaches.
Deco On 44
As Sri Lanka’s only art decor hotel, Deco on 44 truly stands out against its competitors. Built in the 1930’s by a wealthy gem merchant, the hotel successfully respects the style of this history whilst incorporating contemporary design details and convenient mod cons. The theme of each room centres around art and comfort with highly individual style. The hotel is known for its attentive staff, amazingly central location and fresh cuisine which, when served, is often accompanied by an explanation from the chef himself. Deco On 44 ensures a welcoming, relaxing and culturally immersive stay.
The main attraction of the boutique hotel Casa Colombo is its unique interior design. Once belonging to wealthy traders, this 200 year old Moorish mansion has become something of a style icon due to its blend of Indian and Italian floor mosaics, molded ceilings and Moorish style balconies, all layered with contemporary design features. The renovation was carried out by a young Sri Lankan designer who’s artistic vision interjected a youthful energy to this centuries old structure. This trendy hotel is also popular with locals who come during the weekend to enjoy the sociable bar area.
Focusing purely on Sri Lankan design traditions, Amangalla succeeds in preserving a sense of history with its antique furniture, intricate woodcarvings and old prints. Each piece of heirloom furniture has been handpicked with consideration given to its placement within the hotel and its historical context. The exterior of the building is as authentically fascinating as the inside due to its Dutch colonial architecture. Only a tuktuk ride away from the historic town of Galle and the Galle Fort, Amangalla perfectly captures the cultural essence of this area. The hotel is often visited for its cream teas which can be enjoyed from the terrace.
As 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 of Maya has been renovated with stylish, minimalist touches alive with architectural novelty. This product of a structural passion for old and new is elegantly placed within two acres of raw Sri Lankan countryside. From the hotel grounds, visitors can easily drive to its surrounding beaches for whale watching or to visit the ancient Mulkirigala Temple.
By Bethan Morgan