Take a look at the best value hotels in Sri Lanka.
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.
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.
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.
This simple, mid-range option in southwestern Sri Lanka is an excellent value. Open since 1983, the 88-room Hotel Mermaid tends to attract long-term vacationers (coming for 10 days or more) -- mostly couples from Europe, some of whom stay for three weeks. Standard Rooms (the majority) have teak furnishings, CD players, and balconies, and there are two pools, a spa, and fitness center. Guests will find plenty of lounge chairs in which to sit back and read a book, the preferred daytime activity. One restaurant serves varied buffet spreads and three bars pour the basics; all-inclusive packages are optional and there's also live entertainment a few nights a week. For more luxury and romance, check out pricier sister property Saman Villas down the road.
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.
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.
The towering 243-room Cinnamon Red Colombo is a sleek upper-middle-range property with gorgeous views of the city and ocean in the distance. The red-and-white-themed Standard Rooms are modern and fresh, with flat-screen TVs and coffee- and tea-making facilities -- plus many have scenic vistas. The hotel’s crowning feature is its infinity pool, with loungers overlooking the water. There's also an adjacent gym. Well-reviewed dining outlets include an all-day restaurant, lobby bar, and rooftop bar. On the downside, the hotel lacks a spa and there are occasional long wait times for elevators. Still, free Wi-Fi and a central location make it an excellent pick for business or leisure travelers. For an alternative, the OZO Colombo is an uber-hip property with similar amenities that's closer to the sea.
Part of a local hotel group, the 14-room Thaproban Beach House is a mid-range, beachfront hotel in tourist-filled Unawatuna that has a warm and welcoming vibe. Rooms are simple, but stylish, with hardwood accents throughout plus flat-screen TVs and air-conditioning -- some even have sea views. The hotel has direct beach access plus a full bar and excellent dining. This laid-back boutique property is ideal for budget-minded guests who don't want to sacrifice style, service, or cleanliness for location. There is no pool or spa on-site, but guests have access to both at Thambapanni Retreat, the hotel's sister property just down the road.
Surrounded by tropical gardens full of flowers, palms, and the occasional monkey, the 18-room Thambapanni Retreat feels like an escape from touristy Unawatuna. Homey, modern rooms with contemporary bathrooms, plus private superior bungalows, have fresh and bright look. Though not on the beach, it's a superb bargain for the area, with an Ayurvedic wellness program, free morning yoga, a swimming pool with bar, nightly live cooking stations including fresh-caught seafood, and free transport to nearby sister properties that are directly on the beach. However, the small grounds and some shared balcony space may disappoint those wanting more privacy, but overall the value and charm here is hard to beat.
This 36-acre, 105-room upscale resort on the southwest coast of Sri Lanka is family-friendly and relaxed, drawing a mostly German and British crowd. The beach isn’t the draw -- it contains course, beige sand that burns hot in the sun, and the current is not always safe for swimming -- but it's fine for walks and sunsets. Rooms with varying views have modern furnishings and amenities, and bathrooms come with walk-in showers (Junior Suites have separate jetted tubs). Water sports at the Kalu Ganga River and excursions are available, but most guests tend to stick to the the outdoor pool, which can get a crowd (ahem, chairs get snagged early). There are two restaurants and two bars; a spa is available at the Anantara resort next door. Parking and Wi-Fi are free.
The lower-middle-range Highbury Colombo is an intimate, charming guest house with just five rooms in a residential area of Colombo. There's little for travelers in the immediate area, but several attractions are within a 10-minute drive, including the National Museum and Galle Face Beach. The property's rooms and suites have elegant Sri Lankan decor with lovely details, and all come with AC, seating areas, kettles, and mini-fridges. However, some units require trekking up lots of stairs, and they lack safes and TVs. All meals and snacks can be enjoyed in the quaint garden, and Wi-Fi is free throughout, but that's it in terms of features. This is an excellent pick for travelers seeking a quiet, homey stay, but those who want more amenities should consider Colombo Courtyard Hotel, which has an outdoor pool, rooftop cafe, and spa.
Located in the heart of Colombo’s commercial district, this four-pearl Hilton offers 168 contemporary, standard rooms and apartment-style units. All rooms have attractive decor, flat-screen TVs, and air-conditioning, while suites have living spaces and kitchens with stovetops and ovens, though microwaves require a fee. An array of features includes an outdoor lap pool with separate kiddy pool, indoor wellness area with a gym, squash and tennis courts, and free parking. Dining options consist of an all-day international restaurant and a lounge bar. There is no full spa, however. Travelers looking for a similarly priced property closer to Galle Face Beach may prefer the historic Galle Face Hotel Colombo, though it lacks kitchen-equipped rooms.
This 75-room, upscale beach resort on the southwestern coast of Sri Lanka has competitive prices and attractive tropical modern style. All rooms have contemporary furnishings, free Wi-Fi, and work desks; bathrooms come with glass walk-in showers. The vibe is quiet and relaxed (perhaps too relaxed for some), and there are two a la carte restaurants and two bars. The expansive beach remains free of crowds, but most tend to plant themselves at one of two outdoor pools divided by a large lawn space. Saman Villas and Vivanta by Taj are nicer but also pricier, while those looking to save may want to consider the typically cheaper Surf Hotel.
This mid-range, budget-friendly boutique packs 53 rooms across two property lots, and features four restaurant spaces sharing the same menu, two pools, a jewelry store, and both wild jungle and landscaped grounds. It is about a 10-minute walk to the beach in one direction and the same distance to the town's main road in the other. Mostly filled with families and older couples, the property is characterized by a few stray dogs, lingering employees, a small (and hot) gym, and a great disparity between the lowest and highest of the nine categories of rooms. This is a relaxing, quiet spot that's ideal for anyone on a budget (or with a pet).
This 158-room upscale Eden Resort & Spa, on the southwest coast of Sri Lanka, opened in 1995 and claims to be the first spa hotel in the country. Following a 2013 partial renovation, today it attracts Asian and European tourists who rely on its contemporary and elegant rooms with wood or granite floors, flat-screen TVs, and patios or balconies. The pool and swim-up bar draw a lively crowd during the day, as does the pub in the evenings, though the resort's lawn and the on-site Ayurvedic spa also offer peace and quiet. Great food and drink options include fine dining at Temptations and the new rooftop lounge, 7th Heaven, though guests should keep in mind that the adjacent public beach isn't the best for swimming. For a more intimate vibe, guests should try Nisala Arana Boutique Hotel, with stunning tropical grounds, though it's not next to the ocean.