You can’t visit Sri Lanka without feeling the rich culture and history of the ancient nation. From the warmth of the people to the tea plantations and temples, it’s easy to be mesmerised by the thousand-year-old history that seeps deep into every facet of this beautiful island.
While the tourism industry in Sri Lanka might have been impacted over the past few months by the heart-wrenching attacks over Easter, it is slowly reclaiming itself as a vital force that drives the heart of the island. When we were there just over a year ago, the locals welcomed us with a warmth and hospitality that made it feel like a home away from home.
It’s not just the people that make Sri Lanka worth traveling to: The vibrant culinary scene, the idyllic train rides, the rolling hills, and the iridescent beaches are amongst the many features of the country awaiting your presence.
So what are you waiting for? We’re here to help you alleviate the stress of planning with our list of the best luxury hotels in the country that embrace the island’s old-world charm. Whether you’re headed to Sigiriya or Tangalle, there’s a bed waiting for you.
The ultra-luxe, minimalistic design of Aman shines through at Amanwella, the Aman Group’s beachside outpost in Sri Lanka. Each of its 30 suites boasts floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors and a private plunge pool, with tuk-tuks to take you up your hillside room. However, you might choose instead to spend the majority of your time at the 150-foot-long infinity pool that overlooks a vision of tall palm trees and the waves rolling onto the resort’s own beach. If you forgot to pack a book, the library’s selection should tide you over as you lounge your afternoon away.
Nestled on the Southern coast of Sri Lanka is the Anantara Peace Haven. The cliffside resort has sweeping views over the seemingly-endless Indian Ocean. Make yourself at home at one of the 152 guest rooms and villas with options of either direct beach access or the aforementioned panoramic views. The proximity to the sea also means that the restaurants here have dibs on the day’s freshest catch, with the chefs offering a multitude of options for you to gobble down some delectable seafood.
What was once a Dutch governer’s mansion 300 years ago is now Amangalla, one of Aman’s two offerings in Sri Lanka. Located within the Galle Fort, a World Heritage Site, the resort is a stately landmark that looks like a postcard out of a bygone era. The 31 guest rooms and suites have been carefully restored to its former glory, with the pinnacle being the one-bedroom, two-storey Garden House for those seeking more privacy. If you want to spot some whales, the best period to visit would be from November to March.
Now, if you wanted a view of the Galle Fort itself, the place to stay would be Le Grand Galle. From the outside looking in, this cliffside boutique hotel and its contemporary architecture and furnishings juxtapose well with the colonial town it overlooks. There are a myriad of activities at your disposal here: You could either embark on an hour-long river safari tour or snorkel and jet ski your way around the waters. After that, your king-sized bed in your comfortable, well-appointed room will be calling out for you to get under the covers.
The Sigiriya Rock Fortress is an iconic landmark of Sri Lanka, and if you have planned a stop to visit this imposing site, the best place to stay would be right under its shadow at Hotel Sigiriya. With a picture-perfect view from the hotel’s pool, you’ll feel reluctant to make the 5-minute walk to the base of the fortress just to get to the top, but we can assure you it’s worth it. The hotel only has 79 rooms, a small number in contrast to the thousands of visitors Sigiriya receives each day.
After being on the road in Sri Lanka for awhile, your body would be craving a much-needed detox. Enter the Santani Wellness Resort & Spa, where their holistic environment and treatments by way of Ayurveda would soothe your body and soul. The “less is more” ethos is ever present at the resort that boasts a deliberately minimalistic architecture, and rooms do not have a television (although there is Wifi).