I have been lucky enough to stay in some of the top hotels in Sri Lanka on my travels, and because of that, I have been able to put together a list of the absolute best places to stay in Sri Lanka. In fact, during my travels I have stayed in over 15 hotels in Sri Lanka, so I figured it made sense to sort out my favourites. Hopefully this list will make it easier for you to book your accommodation for your trip.
As I travelled around the island, you’ll find that these resorts and hotels are scattered around, so whether you are looking for a hotel in Colombo, Negombo or Nuwara Eliya, you’ll find a great one on this list! I’m excited to say that I have also made a video to go with the post, so if you are more of a visual person, scroll down to watch the video.
Please note that the video was created after my first trip to Sri Lanka, when I only included 5 hotels on this list. I have since then been back, and added new favourite hotels to this guide. So, you may find that some of them are not included in the video.
// Trip in collaboration with Tourism Sri Lanka
More of my Sri Lanka content:
- Uncommon places to visit in Sri Lanka (including what to do and where to stay)
- 15 Must-see places in Sri Lanka
- 10 Day Sri Lanka Itinerary
- Sri Lanka Travel Diary (part 1)
- Sri Lanka Travel Diary (part 2)
- Sri Lanka travel vlog (one day in Sri Lanka) – Youtube video!
- The top hotels in Sri Lanka – Youtube video!
The best places to stay in Sri Lanka: My Top 9
As mentioned, these hotels are located in different areas of the island, so I have included their location in the heading. That way, when you’re browsing these top hotels in Sri Lanka you’ll be able to easily scan for the destination you are visiting.
All the hotels were great, but some of them also had their drawbacks. Where applicable, I have mentioned these (for example, where the rooms were incredible but the food in the restaurant was only so-so). Regardless, I feel so lucky to have been able to stay in some of the best hotels in Sri Lanka (in my opinion), and even with some minor drawbacks, I had to share them with you. Some of these are perfect for a getaway (and I honestly wish I could have spent days locked up in the hotels), whilst others are the perfect place to stay whilst exploring the nearby area.
Regardless of why you are visiting, these are places to stay in Sri Lanka that I strongly recommend. Let’s dive into the list (in no particular order, they are all favourites of mine).
Mount Lavinia Hotel, Colombo
If you know me just a little, you’ll know I love historic hotels and staying in places with a story. Mount Lavinia was originally built in 1806 by Sir Thomas Maitland, and continued to be the main residence of three separate governors of Ceylon (you know, Sri Lanka’s former name during the colonial times)! The hotel served as a military hospital during WW2, and operated as a sanatorium during the Cholera epidemic in 1833. So, it’s safe to say, this hotel has a vast history you can dive into. There is also a romance story to be discovered here, about the governor himself and the love of his life; a Mestizo dancer named Lovina (and said to be the inspiration behind the name of the hotel).
Fun fact: lots of notable figures have stayed at Mount Lavinia Hotel through the centuries, including King Leopold of Belgium, Somerset Maugham and Kirk Douglas.
As you can probably guess, Mount Lavinia has that colonial vibe going all over the hotel, and it is working. The rooms were large, and the four-poster bed was just what I needed after the 17-hours of travel to get from Norway to Sri Lanka. From my balcony, I had beautiful views of the ocean and the property, which includes a pool area, a rooftop restaurant and a private beach. Personally, I would have loved to spend a weekend at Mount Lavinia without leaving, in order to take advantage of all the amenities.
The Kingsbury, Colombo
The Kingsbury Colombo is a luxury hotel you’ll love. Their beautiful marble details will have you drooling, and I enjoyed every second of my stay there. It is more centrally located than Mount Lavinia, so if you plan to spend a few days exploring the city (like I did), this is a great option for you.
The rooms are spacious and elegant, and the decor of the whole hotel screams of sophisticated luxury (think marble, mirrors and flowers). The staff were all incredibly friendly (as with every Sri Lankan person I have ever met), and upon arrival I was greeted with a refreshing welcome drink. The bed was soft and comfortable, and I quickly made a note to include the Kingsbury on this list of the best places to stay in Sri Lanka.
There are several restaurants at the Kingsbury, with the main one serving a buffet. We enjoyed both our breakfast and dinner here, and had what was hands down the best coffee I have had in Sri Lanka. The buffet is Sri Lankan and international, so there was something for everyone here. Of course, they make fresh spring hoppers at one of the counters, but there was also a stir-fry counter and a pasta counter for those craving something more close to home. All though I strongly recommend you try a spring hopper in Sri Lanka, it’s the best!
The rooftop at the Kingsbury offers not only great views of the ocean and Colombo (see the photo in the gallery below for this view at night), but also some killer cocktails. If you want to do what I did, head up there for sunset and enjoy the night getting darker whilst sipping on a local concoction.
There is also a great pool at the hotel, and this is the perfect place to cool down after a day of exploring Colombo.
Wild Glamping Knuckles
This might have been my absolute favourite experience in Sri Lanka. I had never been glamping before, and didn’t quite know what to expect, but the experience surpassed all my expectations. If I only had to include one hotel on this list, this would be my pick for the best place to stay in Sri Lanka.
Wild Glamping Knuckles consists of 10 tents, all raised on stilted platforms, in the Knuckles Mountain Range. In order to get to the glamp site, you have to meet their team in Rangala and drive the last (bumpy) 2 kilometres in their jeep. This gives you a feeling of being really remote, and I loved feeling so secluded and close to nature.
Each tent has an en-suite bathroom, and is furnished with 2 comfortable beds (either separated or pushed together), a desk area, a safe, wardrobe and bench for your suitcase. This truly is glamping at its finest!
There is no wifi or data signal at the glamping, so you really get to experience what it is like in the wilderness (whilst still sleeping comfortably in your luxury tent). I was surprised to learn that the solar-powered generator would only be turned on at specific times (from 06:00 to 08:00 in the morning and 18:00 to 22:00 in the evening), and initially thought I would have an issue with the lack of wifi, data signal and electricity through the day.
But, I was wrong. It was absolutely incredible to be so roped off from the real world, and to fall asleep in the utter darkness listening to the sounds of the mountain range outside.
With only 10 tents, dinner and breakfast at Wild Glamping Knuckles is quite a private affair. We could simply agree on our preferred meal time with the staff, and they’d be up and ready to feed us. Dinner each night was a 3-course barbecue dinner, cooked right in front of our eyes, whilst breakfast was a traditional Sri Lankan breakfast.
Please note that they do not serve alcohol at Wild Glamping Knuckles, but you are free to bring your own. We brought a couple of bottles of wine, that we enjoyed both with dinner and in front of the bonfire the staff set up for us on our last night.
St. Andrew’s, Nuwara Eliya
Of course, the first two hotels on my list of top hotels in Sri Lanka are the oldest. St. Andrew’s in Nuwara Eliya actually dates back almost 130 years, and the tiles through the main building of the hotel are the ORIGINAL TILES! You know I couldn’t help myself from looking down whenever I walked through the hallways. I’ve been to stay at St. Andrew’s several times now, and will keep coming back whenever I am in Nuwara Eliya.
St. Andrew’s is a 5-star hotel, and everything from the welcome to the dining experience reflected this. This was the first hotel we got to that actually had vegetarian options as a part of their set menu, and they have a cosy lounge area where they light the fireplace every evening. Now, before you ask, as Nuwara Eliya is quite high up in the Sri Lankan mountains, it does get cold enough in the evening for this to be necessary.
There are lots of seating areas scattered around the garden, and so there are plenty of reasons to enjoy a glass of wine outdoor. The only thing I will point out here is that the wifi didn’t work very well in the garden, so if you are hoping to have said glass of wine while getting work done, you may have to move inside. However, if you just want to read your book, relax or catch up with your travel friends, it’s the perfect place to chill. St. Andrew’s also has a pool room with a massive, old pool table, for anyone interested in a game.
St. Andrew’s has a big focus on sustainability and the environment, and have put in place many measures as a result. For example, you will find that all bottles in your room (from shampoo bottles to drinking bottles) are made of glass. Instead of using disposable plastic containers, they refill the glass ones. They also have a waste cleaning system, where the waste water from the hotel is filtered and cleaned, and used in one of their ponds.
This pond, as well as an area behind the hotel, is part of their wetland reserve! Here, you will find several species of frogs, bugs and birds that are endemic to Sri Lanka. They have 4 species of frogs that are endangered here, and 4 that are critically endangered! You’ll find that there is an in-house naturalist at the hotel, who is happy to answer any questions you may have.
Jetwing Sea, Negombo
This was the hotel I was lucky enough to have the most time in during my first trip to Sri Lanka, and definitely one of the best hotels in Sri Lanka, in my humble opinion. I stayed here for my last day on the island, and since my flight wasn’t until late in the evening, this meant I had all day to relax by the pool, walk around the grounds, and enjoy the views from my room (and the french coffee press that came with it!). If you saw my vlog covering a day in Sri Lanka, you’ll know that it was a busy trip, so trust that this day of relaxation came at the perfect time.
Jetwing Sea is one of several Jetwing hotels in Negombo and located right by the beach. As in, you can walk 3 steps from the restaurant and find your toes in the sand. The restaurant, where they serve breakfast, lunch and dinner (buffet for the first and last, and a la carte for lunch), is open-air, so you can eat while listening to the sounds of the ocean and the birds chirping. The food was great, and both the buffet and the a la carte lunch impressed!
Now, please bear in mind that in the photo of the room below, I had already slept in my bed and tried to remake it as nicely as possible. It was dark when I arrived, and I wanted to get a photo with the light shining into the room. As mentioned above, there was a french coffee press in the room, which allowed me to enjoy some great coffee on my balcony before heading down for breakfast. The bed was large and incredibly comfortable, and there was both a rainforest shower and a large tub in the bathroom. It had everything I needed for a very comfortable stay!
Mahaweli Reach, Kandy
Since we have been on the topic of coffee, I have to say that Mahaweli Reach had the best coffee out of all the hotels I stayed at in Sri Lanka. Hands down. This alone should make it one of the top hotels in Sri Lanka, right? I mean, tea is plentiful and found everywhere, but finding good coffee wasn’t the easiest.
Mahaweli Reach is found near the Mahaweli River, which explains the name of the hotel. They have 108 luxurious rooms, a large pool area (seriously, I could have spent days lounging there with my Kindle), and an impressive dinner buffet (we are talking an Italian corner for those with a pasta craving, and a Sri Lankan corner for those who want to try fresh local food).
Fun fact: this is the first hotel in the area to get a 5-star rating!
One thing I found quite amusing about this hotel was that there are steps going straight into the pool from the bar area. They can’t really boast of having a swim-up bar, but I’d call it a walk-up, haha. The room was very big, and perhaps could have been furnished a little “warmer”, if that makes sense, but it was definitely comfortable enough. Personally, I feel as if the large pool area is what makes this hotel a winner, and I would have loved to spend a few days relaxing there. The hotel can also assist in arranging excursions and day trips for you, for example to Sigiriya Rock, Nuwara Eliya or to one of the nearby golf courses.
Both Sigiriya Rock and Nuwara Eliya are on my list of places you must go in Sri Lanka.
Amaya Hills, Kandy
Another Kandy hotel for the list. I was only able to spend one night at Amaya Hills, but that was enough to make me realise that I want to go back. If not for the view from their breakfast tables alone. The hotel is located in the (you guessed it) Amaya Hills of Kandy, and offers great views of the valley and city of Kandy below.
There is a buffet served for both breakfast and dinner, and the outdoor seating area by the restaurant lets you enjoy the great views from the hotel. But beware of monkeys roaming around! We did see a monkey get close enough to snatch some leftovers from a plate on a nearby table, so make sure to finish your food. There are also signs on the balcony doors reminding you to keep them close, in case a monkey wants to drop by.
The rooms were quite spacious, and classically furnished. We stayed at the Amaya Hills after two days of glamping in the Knuckles Mountain Range (mentioned above), so it was quite nice to stay in such a lovely room (with electricity, haha).
Amaloh Boutique Resort, Matara
Amaloh is located in Matara, just a short drive from the popular Mirissa. What I loved most about this hotel was the room and the outdoor bathroom (I am such a sucker for outdoor showers). It is still #5 on the list because the food wasn’t great (for both dinner and breakfast), and the service was quite slow in the restaurant. So please note that this is not the place to stay if you are hoping for a culinary experience.
However, the room was very spacious, the bed was comfortable, and I loved (did I mention this already?) the bathroom. Both the tub and the shower were outdoor, and there is just no feeling like showering to the sounds of the birds and monkeys (I swear I heard monkeys) playing in the trees nearby.
The hotel is located right on the beach and has a lovely pool where you can swim overlooking the ocean. If you want to visit the popular Mirissa, but would rather stay a little further away from everyone else (I have heard that Mirissa can be quite the party town), Matara is a great choice, and the Amaloh Boutique Resort is too.
Taj Bentota Resort & Spa
If you ever plan to visit Sri Lanka in order to spend days on end without leaving your hotel (which I don’t recommend), this would be it. As one of the best places to stay in Sri Lanka, the Taj Bentota did not disappoint. Not long after my arrival I realised this would become a favourite of mine, and throughout my stay, this thought was only made stronger.
The Taj Bentota is a luxury resort, with a spa, several restaurant, great pool and direct access to the beach. All of these things contributed to making this one of the hotels I loved most in Sri Lanka. I have to admit, I spent most of my time here lounging by the pool, sipping cocktails and relaxing after a busy 10 days of exploring Sri Lanka.
The pool area is obviously stunning, as you can see for yourself in the photo below. But that’s not where the features of this place stop to amaze. The Palms Restaurant is where you will enjoy your meals if you are on the full-board plan. These meals are served as a buffet, and did not disappoint. The breakfast was especially great, with a large amount of options (ranging from the local string hopper to French toast).
On one of our evenings there, we ate at the Shack, which is one of the best seafood restaurants in Sri Lanka! It is open-air, so we got to dine on the grass overlooking the ocean, which was an experience worth mentioning in and of itself. As expected, the food was also great, and I really enjoyed an a la carte dinner after several days of buffets.
The Tease Bar is another place I want to mention. I spent quite some time there as well, you see. The bar is located close to the hotel lobby, but still manages to give off a relaxed lounge vibe that had me feeling like I was anywhere but in a resort. The drinks were great, and if you are heading to the Taj I recommend their Banker’s Martini!
My top hotels in Sri Lanka
Now, if you were wondering where to stay in Sri Lanka, I hope this list has been a little helpful for you. Of course, I have to say that this list contains my personal recommendations for the best hotels and places to stay in Sri Lanka, and is in no way an official list.
However, out of all the places I stayed during my trips (16 different hotels, to be exact!), these were my favourites (and the ones I can highly recommend). Their locations also work out perfectly if you are trying to plan a trip around Sri Lanka and you want to explore several destinations on the island.