Take a look at the best boutique hotels in Sri Lanka.
The gorgeous, upscale Buckingham Place boutique resort is a peaceful, secluded retreat with Rekawa Beach access and within a wildlife sanctuary. Its 16 massive contemporary rooms and suites have huge bathrooms and balconies, terraces, or private gardens offering fabulous Rekawa Lagoon views. Though the five-acre grounds provide many spots to kick back, including two pools, gardens, and a Mezzanine Lounge, there’s no gym, and both the massage room and garden pool are tiny. The Oceanfront restaurant is pricey, but has great food, and an all-day breakfast is included in rates. The free minibars in rooms and free canoe and bike rentals are also standout perks. The sleepy village surroundings are isolated and airports are over three hours away. Closer to Tangalle, Nuga Eden Villa Tangalle is much cheaper and has a bigger pool, but is far less luxurious.
Saman Villas is arguably the most romantic and luxurious resort in southwestern Sri Lanka. The 27 rooms, set on a grassy cliff separated by two beaches, have elegant furnishings, big outdoor bathrooms, and sea views; many come with private pools. The main infinity pool is not to be missed, though, and only gets prettier with nightly sunsets. Private dining can be arranged on secluded spots around the grounds, and the open-air restaurant serves high-quality cuisine with changing menus. Despite somewhat high prices for food and drink, treatments at the spa seem reasonable by comparison. The property also has a fitness center, library, and free Wi-Fi.
This five-pearl luxury boutique has 12 huge suites with polished concrete floors, imported Indo-Asian antique furniture, private plunge pools, top-shelf snacks and drinks, ocean or garden views, and outdoor lounge space. On-site, guests have access to open-air public spaces including a large lobby, breezy restaurant, small poolside bar, gym, and gigantic spa treatment room. There's also a large stretch of wild beach out back and a few traditional puppets hanging in the halls. It's the best, and priciest, hotel in the Hikkaduwa area. Saman Villas up the coast is a comparable property worth considering.
This off-the-beaten-path, five-room boutique has more of a home-away-from-home guesthouse vibe than most of the larger and less personal options you'll find along Hikkaduwa's main beach strip. Notable for its serene lakeside atmosphere and tasty Asian and British inspired menu items, here guests can expect personal attention, a small pool, and a casual bar lounge area with a pool table. Rooms have hand-carved wooden furniture, private outdoor balconies, DVD players, and minibars (that are only stocked during high season). It's a simple, quiet retreat but common areas are dated and rooms have tube TVs.
The mid-range Dickman Resort is a stunningly designed, adult-only boutique located on a quiet street just a few minutes' walk to numerous restaurants and bars. This LGBT-friendly property has nine individually decorated rooms -- almost all of which are named after a color and have coordinating furnishings -- that feature minibars, air-conditioning, flat-screen TVs with DVD libraries, and tea- and coffee-making facilities. Some are also equipped with furnished balconies or outdoor bathrooms. Facilities aren't extensive, but they do include a lovely freshwater pool, garden with plentiful seating, and a pool table by reception. A quality cooked-to-order breakfast is included in room rates, but the outdoor restaurant stops serving food in the early evening. This is easily one of the top hotels in the area, but if beach views are a necessity, consider the nearby Jetwing Beach.
Set amid lush greenery, the 12-room Tamarind Hill by Asia Leisure is an upscale boutique, 10 minutes by tuk-tuk from Galle Dutch Fort. Colonial elegance here reflects 1764-built origins, and antique furnishings grace intimate spaces, indoors and out. Teak woods and tapestry rugs continue in vast rooms and suites with poster beds, bathrobes, and flat-screen TVs, plus private gardens in most. A tranquil outdoor pool, fine-dining eatery, and Ayurvedic spa round out the facilities, and the property's secluded feel is enhanced by its riverside location. The Fortress has more for kids, but it's pricier.
Ideal for those not worried about watching their wallets or who are willing to spend a bit more to have the expected upscale hotel comforts of the Western world, The Fortress is a solid pick. Located in a quiet, yet convenient spot 30 minutes south of Galle, this 53-room boutique looks much larger from the street. Designed to resemble the famous Dutch Fort, here you'll find modern decor mixed with architectural styles from the Dutch and Portuguese colonial eras along with two pools, a narrow and un-swimmable beach, tasty meal options, a ton of activities, family-friend features, a gorgeous spa, and huge rooms with all the fixings.
Ideal for couples or small groups of friends, CoCo Bay Unawatuna is a fresh and stylish spot along a quiet bay on the Indian Ocean, next to a fishing village. It's a five-minute drive to the main Unawatuna Beach area, and the Galle Fort takes about 15 minutes to reach by car. This small and upscale, 16-room boutique hotel offers crisp and bright rooms with hardwood floors, minibars, large jetted tubs, and options for private plunge pools or big decks. Oh, there's also those ocean views. Top features include a narrow pool, sundeck, a small pop art- and jazz-themed bar, and a casual restaurant serving international fare. For something with even more local character, it's worth considering the Thambapanni Retreat. Rates there are lower, but it's not on the beach.
This seven-room, upper-middle-range boutique hotel offers an elegant, relaxing setting where guests can get away from it all. Though difficult to reach given the dirt roads and distance from populated areas, the private feel and natural setting are stunning and peaceful. A gorgeous strip of undeveloped beach is at guests’ disposal, shared only with nesting sea turtles during certain times. There’s also a beautiful, large pool with a wading pool, set on a terrace shaded by palms and overlooking the sea. The service is impeccable, including meals whenever and wherever requested. Air-conditioned rooms are large and elegantly decorated, providing minibars, coffeemakers, and robes, but no TVs. Nature lovers should compare rates with Cinnamon Wild Yala, which has lovely rooms and amenities in the wilderness of the jungle.
The upper-middle-range Paradise Road The Villa Bentota is a 19th-century mansion turned boutique hotel. It's set amid extensive grounds a short stroll from the beach, but guests will have to pass an (occasionally noisy) train track to get to the waterfront. Most guests find it part of the property's charm, in addition to the Dutch colonial antiques and plethora of modern artwork that's on display throughout. The 15 individually decorated rooms and suites have a black-and-white color scheme, air-conditioning, flat-screen TVs, and minibars. The restaurant serves well-reviewed local and international cuisine, and there are two swimming pools. There are no gym or full spa, but a massage treatment room is available. Travelers looking to be along the beach should consider the similarly priced 160-room Vivanta by Taj, though it doesn't have the same intimate feel.
Formerly serving as the personal residence of two Sri Lankan prime ministers, the Paradise Road Tintagel Colombo comes with some serious prestige under its belt. The property features 10 upscale rooms with personal decor, a tiny but modern pool, a small gym, a tiny spa area, elegant dining and bar options, a leather-bound library, and top-notch art in every nook. This boutique (which has hosted the Prince of Wales) is an ideal spot for large groups or families visiting the area, and its proximity to the political and business center of Colombo makes it a good option for business travelers, too.
Sea Rock Villa is a contemporary boutique just outside Bentota. Its five rooms are clean, spacious, and simple with minibars, small flat-screen TVs, free coffee and tea facilities, and balconies that overlook the wild ocean waves. While the property is small, there's still enough room for a restaurant with two dining areas, a pool, private beach area, large lawn with badminton/volleyball court, and small library. A passenger van and tuk-tuks are available for transport, making it a convenient spot for those wanting a truly quiet and somewhat recluse beach vacation with when-you-want-it access to the outside world.
This upper-middle-range 13-room, family-owned boutique welcomed it's first guests in 1964 as Colombo's first registered guesthouse. The modern colonial building offers a blend of contemporary and traditional styles, with mid-century decor and modern art, a restaurant and bar, and truly warm service. Located in Colombo's central Copetty neighborhood, Taru Villas - Lake Lodge is conveniently situated near major points of interest, shopping, and restaurants. Rooms are clean and comfy, with urban chic accents throughout. It's a tranquil city retreat for quiet, low-key holiday-makers -- wild partiers steer clear. For a similarly chic alternative with an equally intimate vibe, guests should consider Casa Colombo, in the Colombo 4 area.
Sri Gemunu is a budget-friendly, family-owned spot flanked by the main road and a wild stretch of beach where it’s not uncommon to spot locals fishing off the large rocks. All 20 of this boutique’s barebones rooms are immaculately clean, come with sea views and terrace space; they are slightly dated. On-site you’ll find mostly open-air space for lounging, including tables, chairs, and loungers set up to view the ocean; a simple restaurant and bar; and a relaxed, local vibe. Off-site, at the sister property, there’s a pool and Ayurvedic spa center, though no transport is available.
The three-pearl Kandy Samadhi Centre is a 12-room rustic resort located a 50-minute drive from Kandy. Inspired by meditation, rooms are scattered around its extensive lush and quiet grounds. Many guests come to utilize the yoga and meditation classes, or the extensive Ayurvedic treatments. Rooms are large and appointed with antique furniture, sitting areas, and tea- and coffee-making facilities, but they're showing wear and tear. Bathrooms are large but they're occasionally shared between rooms and there are no toiletries. An organic vegetarian restaurant serves free breakfast and food receives stellar reviews. Though there is nothing within walking distance, the hotel can help organize tours. There is no Wi-Fi, cellphone service, or TVs, so it's best for guests looking to unplug. Travelers seeking more amenities may prefer the Madulkelle Tea and Eco Lodge, though rates are much higher.