Take a look at the best kid-friendly hotels in Sri Lanka.
The 501-room, upscale Cinnamon Grand is a Colombo institution; it is a popular place for weddings and conferences, and has an air of importance and activity. All room types have quality amenities such as free coffee and turndown service, but some carpeting and bedding could use a style upgrade. There are two outdoor pools, a whopping 14 dining options, a large fitness center, and an adjacent Thai-based spa from Angsana (in other words, this is a big property and guests should expect to walk often). Late check-out requests are rarely granted, and beware that taxis through the hotel have higher fares than those on the street. Guest parking and Wi-Fi are free.
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.
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.
This 340-room, mid-range hotel is sometimes overshadowed by its sister property, Cinnamon Grand, but is a major Colombo player in its own right. Lakeside Colombo sits on seven pretty acres overlooking Beira Lake and contemporary rooms have flat-screen TVs, free bottled water, coffee/tea, and spacious bathrooms with tub/shower combos. Common for all Cinnamon properties, food and drink options are a standout, starting with the breakfast buffet and ending with late-night dancing at the classy library-turned-nightclub. The Executive Floor lounge is stocked with gourmet snacks and cocktail-makings, and has a balcony for impressing clients. Paying for breakfast and a crowded fitness center are downsides.
Heritance Ahungalla is an upscale 152-room beachfront resort with a huge building and a casual vibe. The colonial-style design and decor is reflected in the polished wood and stone floors, the locally woven fabrics, and the handmade art on the walls; it's the details that make the difference here. Guests can expect spacious rooms with stylish, contemporary nods to the colonial era, two large ocean-facing pools, tennis courts, a spa, five bars, and renowned cuisine at the three restaurants. The minor wear and datedness issues are a downside, but the resort is slowly refurbishing. The resort is popular with both couples and families, and there's a seasonal kids' club here, unlike at the also upscale Vivanta by Taj up the coast.
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.
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.
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.
This contemporary, 140-room hotel offers competitive prices on the southwest coast of Sri Lanka. Designed by renowned local architect Geoffrey Bawa, the upscale Blue Water feels bigger than it actually is, with airy communal areas that reflect his trademark style of tropical modernism. Guests tend to spend daytime hours relaxing in sun loungers scattered around the outdoor lawn in front of the pool. Beyond a fence, there's a wide public beach that stays active with fishermen, though the strong current means it's not always safe for swimming. Modern rooms have private balconies and some bathrooms have separate jetted tubs. The property has four dining options, two bars, two tennis courts, a spa, and a sleek fitness room with yoga classes on request. Wi-Fi is free throughout.
If you are looking to spend quiet time in Sri Lanka, Dalmanuta Gardens - Ayurvedic Resort & Restaurant is a nice spot to recharge your batteries. In addition to riverboat rides, splashing in the small pool area, spotting fireflies in the herb garden, or reflecting within the verdant silent garden, guests staying in any of this boutique's nine simple but private bungalows can also partake in a number of Ayurvedic wellness programs from yoga to treatments to strict personalized programs -- but be warned, the facilities are a bit rustic. Because of the remote location, it's best for people who aren't planning on leaving the property often.
Frangipani Tree is a small beachside boutique with nine suites that have a rustic, yet up-to-date, casual-chic vibe. Minimalist-style rooms are large with big outdoor bathrooms, polished concrete tile floors, and (tedious) door latches. Public space is slim, but includes a narrow pool, small dining area with a limited menu, tennis courts, grassy grounds, a small, unequipped beach area, and an unused TV and library lounge. Frangipani Tree is a place to unplug, so if you're looking for more than just a passive, disconnected type of holiday, you may want to venture further into the towns.
This 154-room, mid-range hotel on the west coast of Sri Lanka is situated along an uncrowded stretch of beige sand 30 minutes from the airport. Currents can be strong at the beach, so many European guests prefer to spend time at the two freshwater pools: a lengthy family-friendly one, and a quiet one next to the open-air spa. Meanwhile, sporty types can partake in tennis, racquetball, badminton, kayaking, and exercise at the indoor fitness center. The colorful, contemporary rooms are spacious and standalone villas are available. Though there are few dining options, the expansive buffet changes daily and there's an elegant a la carte restaurant (guests will have to take a taxi or drive to other spots). An animation team entertains throughout the day and night in the form of aqua aerobics, live music, theatre and karaoke. Keep an eye out for traditional local weddings in the event space.
An upscale 300-room property located in Colombo's well-to-do Colpetty business district, the Taj Samudra Colombo is an ideal pick for business travelers. Stuck somewhere between faded glory and contemporary style, there's outdates decor and fixtures in one area and sleek, contemporary furniture in another -- this goes for everything from rooms to restaurants. There's a host of fitness options and dining options on site, plus an outdoor pool with hot tub, tons of event space, and gorgeous 11-acre gardens. If you're looking for quality over quantity, then you may want to check out one of the city's many boutique options, like Colombo Courtyard.
Designed by a famous Sri Lankan architect, the 85-room upscale Jetwing Lighthouse has a Dutch colonial feel; it's filled with Indo-Asian arty decor, spacious contemporary colonial rooms, and grassy courtyards, and maintains a keep-to-yourself atmosphere. With two wings (built 12 years apart), two pools (including one with a kids' pool), a rustic spa, handful of food and exercise options, and plenty of outdoor areas overlooking the wild and rocky coastline, this large boutique is ideal for those who want a private holiday with lots of space and options. However, for a quainter and quieter vibe, check out Era Beach by Jetwing, 20 minutes down the road.