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The Best Luxury Hotels in Sri Lanka

17. Jun 2022
by Varun Sharma

Set adrift in the middle of the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka is packed with ancient temples, a fascinating culture, beautiful wilderness areas, luxuriant tea plantations and idyllic white beaches. A place to go as fast, or as slow as you want to.
 
Formerly known as Ceylon, and officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka is an Indian Ocean island country in South Asia, southwest of the Bay of Bengal, and southeast of the Arabian Sea. Home to eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites – an ode to the island’s 2000-plus years of culture, and barely 150 kilometres north of the equator, this tropical paradise have a fascinating history influenced by the Silk Road and World War II, among others.
 
A plus is that distances are short here, which means you can visit sacred sites in the morning, and be back on your deck for a tea ceremony in the afternoon. When you’re ready to escape the hot climate of the coast and lowlands, head for the hills which are cooler, charmingly lush and very popular with walkers, trekkers and train ride chasers. Or you can cool off with a surf, scuba dive in world-class marine sites and simply languish on the water’s edge. Whichever it is, Sri Lanka has something for everyone.
 
The BusinessClass.com guide to the best luxury hotels in Sri Lanka: 

Amanwella, Tangalle


Amanwella, Tangalle
- 9/10

 
A glorious seaside resort in the bay of Tangalle, Amanwella is a place of blissful seclusion on a curved stretch of golden sand that’s fringed with coconut palms and encompassed by large boulders. A country standout was imagined by Kerry Hill Architect who took inspiration from the late architect Geoffrey Bawa. In the manicured gardens you’ll find many aromatic frangipanis which were his favourite tree. The 27 elegant suites have floor-to-ceiling windows to max the view. They feature minibars, sound systems and free-standing baths, plus terraces and private courtyards with plunge pools. The suites are large, uncluttered and calming, with dark wooden furnishings and natural tones – most have ocean views.

Amanwella, Tangalle


The main pavilion-style restaurant is next to the lounge bar. The two share a terrace overlooking the infinity pool and ocean, and this is the best place from which to take in the sunset. The Beach Club is open for casual ‘toes in the sand’ lunches, beach BBQs, and grilled seafood. Treatments in the Ayurvedic spa incorporate ingredients from Sri Lanka’s indigenous herbs, plants and flowers, with experienced therapists drawing on the country’s tradition of wellness. There are yoga classes and attractions within easy reaches, such as Mulkirigala Rock Temple, Rekawa’s turtle beach and craft villages.

View more images and find the best rates for Amanwella, Tangalle 

Amangalla, Galle


Amangalla, Galle - 9/10
 
A luxurious hotel situated on the doorstep of the landmark Galle Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Amangalla has been hosting guests for over 150 years. Revamped by the Aman group in 2004, it remains true to the original New Oriental Hotel, which attracted steamship passengers from across the world for over a century. Many features are original, from the tiled veranda floors to the polished timber in the Great Hall with its vast mirrors and oversized Dutch anwars. Rooms are understated and classic with wooden shutters, glorious antiques, nostalgic fittings and modern flourishes. They have either four-poster king or twin beds, the bathrooms have walk-in showers and freestanding baths. The resort has a swimming pool in the shade of the mature trees that you’ll want to retreat to. 

Amangalla, Galle


Running the length of the hotel, the Veranda is open for breakfast, light lunch or dinner. With its candlelit recesses, lofty ceilings and dramatic archways, Amangalla’s Spa and Baths offer tailor-made treatments, hydrotherapy pools, saunas, steam rooms and a cold plunge pool. Galle Fort is a must-visit, a living museum dating back to 1588 with narrow streets lined with old houses, churches, shops and restaurants. The old District Judge’s house, the cricket fields, temple and mosque can all be explored with your Aman guide.
 
Read the BusinessClass.com review and find the best rates for Amangalla, Galle 

Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle Resort, Tangalle


Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle Resort, Tangalle - 9/10

Set in a coconut plantation on the southern coast of Sri Lanka near the old fort town of Tangalle, the Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle Resort is centred around a large pool lined with sun loungers and palm trees. The 120 rooms, spread over multiple four-storey buildings have ocean views, with ground-floor rooms opening up to the garden. They are airy and bright with indulgent rainwater showers, modern luxuries and traditional touches such as rattan chairs and Sri Lankan art. The 32 villas with private pools are worth the extra spend for their massive bathrooms with walk-in closets, separate toilets and double sinks, multiple areas for lounging and plush pillows. Don’t be surprised if you see peacocks wandering about outside.

Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle Resort, Tangalle


The resort has six dining options including a Sri Lankan inspired Teppanyaki beach restaurant and a speciality Italian restaurant, Il Mare, which is dramatically perched on a rocky headland.  Pamper yourself at the Anantara Spa with Ayurvedic massage and reflexology treatment rooms. The resort offers yoga, tai chi, Pilates, a 24-hour gym and a kids centre. There’s seasonal surfing, stand-up paddleboards, tennis and badminton, bike hire, cooking classes and a well-stocked library. The resort strives to stay true to its promise of sustainability and offers nature walks with an in-house naturalist, sustainable agriculture at the resort’s rice paddy field and the conservation of turtle nests on the beach.

Read the BusinessClass.com review and find the best rates for Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle Resort, Tangalle 

Anantara Kalutara Resort, Kalutara


Anantara Kalutara Resort, Kalutara - 9/10
 
The Anantara Kalutara Resort lies on a narrow peninsula between a shallow lagoon and the Indian Ocean near Kalutara, an hour’s drive south of Colombo. The resort opened in 2017, yet its design is based on an original blueprint conceived by the late master architect Geoffrey Bawa. The impressive pitched roof lobby houses a library dedicated to Bawa, and ‘The Wall’ – an ingenious walkway that connects the hotel’s lagoon and ocean wings. The resort has a total of 141 rooms and villas designed in signature Anantara style with contemporary open-plan layouts and luxurious Lankan-infused custom-made furnishings. There are nine room categories, including three big suites, villas with courtyard plunge pools, a few ocean-view rooms and a handful that open directly onto the lagoon pool. Most have private balconies or patios.

Anantara Kalutara Resort, Kalutara


All-day dining restaurant Olu serves international cuisine and a breakfast buffet. Acquolina fine Italian food while standalone dinner-only Spice Traders celebrates Asia’s most popular cuisines – Indian, Chinese and Thai. Pamper yourself at the Anantara Spa with Ayurvedic massage and reflexology treatments. There are two outdoor swimming pools, a gym and a kids and teen club with trained childcare professionals. From ancient pilgrimage sites to a meandering river, places to visit in Kalutara include the 12th-century Richmond Castle. The resort has water sports facilities and uses bicycles, and the area is popular for windsurfing.

Read the BusinessClass.com review and find the best rates for Anantara Kalutara Resort, Kalutara

Ceylon Tea Trails, Norwood Estate Bogawantalawa


Ceylon Tea Trails, Norwood Estate Bogawantalawa
 
Ceylon Tea Trails is the perfect getaway high in the hills. Perched at an altitude of 1,250m in Sri Lanka’s Ceylon tea region, bordering Sri Lanka’s Central Highlands World Heritage site. Stay in one of five restored historic tea planter residences – called bungalows, each with its unique charm. Namely Lakeside Castlereagh, Summerville and Dunkeld, Norwood with panoramic views, and Tientsin, the most traditional of the five. All are decorated with period furniture, have gracious butler service, and Relais & Chateaux standard gourmet cuisine. Within the bungalows are 26 rooms and suites are named after the tea planters who lived there. Each is individually decorated and offers an old-world luxury with solid teak furnishings, antiques and comfy beds.

Ceylon Tea Trails, Norwood Estate Bogawantalawa


The Master Suites have a separate living room, while the Garden Suites have verandas and private gardens. There’s a secluded Owner’s Cottage. This is the ideal setting for trekking and biking against the stunning backdrop of mountains, lakes, meandering roads and waterfalls. If you prefer to simply relax and observe life on a working tea estate, then please do so. Or enjoy a spa treatment, croquet on the lawn or lounging next to the pool. As an added touch, guests are appropriately treated to a traditional morning ‘Bed Tea’ at the start of each day.

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Wild Coast Tented Lodge, Yala National Park


Wild Coast Tented Lodge, Yala National Park
 
The aptly-named Wild Coast Tented Lodge is set next to a rugged Indian Ocean beach just 4 kilometres from Yala National Park,renowned for its leopard population. The twenty-eight uniquely designed and bespoke canvas cocoons are scattered across the lodge’s own bit of jungle, taking on the shape and colour of the rocks and boulders that lay scattered nearby.
Plush and Relais & Chateaux vetted, the tent-style accommodations are air-conditioned, and feature period decor and state-of-the-art amenities, minibars and generous four-poster beds. Some have private plunge pools or separate pods for children.

The Wild Coast Tented Lodge, Yala National Park


Two open-air dome-shaped pavilions house the Ten Tuskers bar, restaurant and library which wrap around the resort’s enormous swimming pool. Here authentic Sri Lankan cuisine is served off a menu that changes daily, as well as sundowners and private picnics, which are set up on the dunes at dusk. The property offers tours to the quietest corners of Yala National Park with their expert naturalist guides. The Sanctuary Spa looks out towards the ocean and dense bush and uses local Sri Lankan ingredients, Ceylon Tea and Ceylon Cinnamon. All meals and drinks are included in your stay here, as are the daily game drives. Sustainably designed and blending with the natural surroundings, the Wild Coast Tented Lodge is the new Sri Lankan safari experience.

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The Goatfell, Kandapola 


Goatfell, Kandapola
 
A stylishly upgraded former estate manager’s bungalow, Goatfell is beautifully secluded among tea plantations high on a hill near Nuwara Eliya. The four-bedroom century-old home turned boutique hotel resonates warmth and country charm, with four bedrooms styled for the discerning modern traveller. Speaking of a bygone era, the open-plan design, covered veranda, warmth of a log fire in the sitting room and views of the tea field from the infinity swimming pool add to the magic. Rooms are luxuriously chic with custom-designed furniture, textured throws and rugs, and an earthy colour scheme. Each room has a four-poster bed along with a writing desk, wardrobe with robes, and white-tiled bathrooms with heating, significant as at this altitude it can get chilly at night. 

The Goatfell, Kandapola 


There is a formal indoor dining room, or meals are served al fresco on the terrace or in the garden. Purple and white agapanthus flourish in the garden that borders a croquet lawn lined with firs. Kandapola is the vegetable-growing region at Sri Lanka’s highest elevation, and on terraces and in small home gardens you’ll see neatly arranged veggie plots sprouting leeks, beans and carrots. A former hill station, Nuwara Eliya is just a 30-minutes’ drive away, a market town carved into the valley beneath the dramatic Pidurutalagala Mountain. Sights on the outskirts include Hakgala Botanical Gardens and the Sita Ella Hindu Kovil, as well as some awe-inspiring lookout points. The bungalow is within strolling distance to Finlay’s Tea Factory.

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The Santani Wellness Resort & Spa


Santani Wellness Resort & Spa
- 9/10

Santani Wellness Resort and Spa is a sustainable wellness retreat, 2,800 feet above sea level, surrounded by a lush tropical jungle in the Sri Lankan highlands. Known as the country’s spiritual centre, it is a place to pause and find peace on a remote, 20 hectare former tea plantation, about an hour’s drive from Kandy. Sixteen stand-alone, single-bedrooms extend to private balconies. All rooms have similar minimalist interiors and can accommodate a max of two people. Each room features up-cycled rubber wood lounge chairs, recycled teakwood safari chairs on the balcony, extra-large pillows, coffee and tea making facilities, and a spacious bathroom. In addition to this are the Garden View Chalets, designed for families with children over 12. The whole property boasts floor to ceiling glass to connect with the valley and forest.

Santani Wellness Resort & Spa


The world-class spa has a thermal saltwater pool, sauna, steam room treatments as well as morning and evening yoga sessions. Each meal at Santani is an experience, and with no printed menus, the chef proposes a menu based on your dietary preferences and using fresh organic vegetables grown on site. No matter which wellness package you choose, you’ll have ample opportunity to unwind on your own time. Take a day-trip to Kandy to explore the spiritual centre of Sri Lanka. The ancient city is home to the golden-roofed Sri Dalada Maligawa Temple, which houses Sri Lanka’s most important Buddhist relic, one of Buddha’s teeth. A destination designed to free the mind while treading as lightly as possible on the earth, this private sanctuary is the epitome of harmonious sustainable wellness.

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Cape Weligama, Galle


Cape Weligama, Galle - 9/10

On Sri Lanka’s soaring southern cliffs, Cape Weligama is a celebrated resort not least because it overlooks the waters where trade winds once carried legendary explorers Marco Polo, Ibn Battuta and Fa-Hsien. Thirty minutes east of Galle, the resort has 8 hectares of land that rises 40 metres above the Indian Ocean, naturally complementing the 39 villas and suites designed by one of Asia's most celebrated architects, Lek Bunnag. All rooms enjoy a large terrace with dining and in-room spa facilities, spacious walk-in wardrobes, Sonos wireless audio, handmade Ophir toiletries, a steam room and large bathrooms with twin vanities and a stone tub.

Cape Weligama, Galle


Cape Weligama features three dining options serving beautiful, seasonal and sustainable food in keeping with the ethos of Relais & Chateaux. These include Ocean Terrace, The Surf Bar and Tableau, all with dramatic views of the Indian Ocean. One the menu are Sri Lankan and European dishes. The Surf Bar provides a relaxed option for traditional Ceylon high tea, as well as to linger over sunset cocktails and after-dinner nightcaps. The freestanding villas share private pools, and there are two main pools – the cove pool and the iconic 60m crescent shaped cliff-top infinity pool with amazing views. Other facilities include a spa and fitness centre. The property can arrange scuba diving, surfing lessons, lake kayaking and rice paddy bicycling. The area is popular for snorkelling, stilt fishing and whale watching expeditions.
 
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Tintagel Colombo, Colombo 


Tintagel Colombo, Colombo - 9/10

Tintagel Colombo is a standout 10-suite boutique hotel on Paradise Road in one of Colombo's most fashionable districts. With its close proximity to embassies, stylish boutiques and art galleries, it’s a popular choice of accommodation for holiday makers and corporates alike, and was selected as the chosen hotel to host Prince Charles and Camilla during their visit in 2013. Impeccably designed by Udayshanth Fernand and renowned for privacy, space and service, the interiors are contemporary chic with earthy colours, decadent fresh flower arrangements, and art by Sri Lanka’s leading artists. The stately 1930’s heritage building was once home to a prominent family and exudes a sense of intimacy – surrounded by high walls it feels a little like an escapist world.

Tintagel Colombo, Colombo 


The executive suites are decorated in signature Paradise Road stripes – ebony, ivory, avocado and red. The beds are draped in mosquito nets, and there are plush bathrobes, as well as bathrooms with showers and baths. Dine under the magnificent vintage chandelier in the cool, beautifully appointed formal dining room on the first floor, or outside under umbrellas in the sun-dappled courtyard. The courtyard is also a great for a refreshing drink.

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