This guide on the best boutique hotels in Sri Lanka will cover where to stay in the South, Central and Western Sri Lanka. I will also be telling you about all the great things to do nearby each hotel. Read on to see where you can spoil yourself, have the most stunning views and for all the best infinity pools! I spent 2 weeks in Sri Lanka, but I have previously also been for 3 weeks, so the more time you have the better!
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Best boutique hotels in Sri Lanka: Southern Sri Lanka
Hotel Tri was most definitely one of the most amazing hotels I have ever stayed at. I travelled here after staying in Mirissa and it took just over an hour to get here. We were going to travel by tun tun originally, but the driver said it was too much of a bumpy ride. Hotel Tri is very out of the way, but the road was actually very good to get here. It is set right on Koggala Lake. What makes it so amazing here is that you really feel that there is nothing around. I stayed in a villa with a view over the lake, and you really feel as though you are the only ones there. There are mainly villas, apart from one building, higher up, also with amazing views.
This interesting cylindrical building has I think 3 rooms, one on each level. At the top of this small building is a lookout point. Here you can watch the stars at night and it is a beautiful spot.
How was the food?
The food was incredible here. The menu changed each day and a lot of the produce is actually grown on site. I had a tour of the gardens here and saw where everything grows. The chef is incredible and follows Ayurvedic traditions. This is a type of healing that comes from plants. I was explained all of the healing properties of different plants, it is amazing what plants can do!
The breakfast every day was divine, in the dining area overlooking the lake again. Each part of this hotel is designed to give the very best views. It was actually designed by a photographer and an architect, so each corner is also photogenic.
The Instagrammable Pool
This is the most common way to recognise this hotel is by its beautiful pool. The infinity pool here overlooks the lake and a beautiful sunrise each day. It really is fabulous and also perfect at sunset with the pink and purple colours!
Read more: What to wear in Sri Lanka
What to do near Hotel Tri?
Take a boat trip on the lake
As there is a huge lake right in front of Hotel Tri it is the most obvious thing to do here. The hotel offers boat tours here to see the surrounding area. It is also great to have a look at all the other amazing hotels surrounding this lake. It really is an area for incredible hotels! There are a few places where you can get out and have a look around. There is one small island with a temple on it that is very popular with Sri Lankans. We didn’t stop here but it looked interesting to see. If you are a bird watcher, then it is also the perfect place for you.
Galle Fort is a colonial area of Galle. It is a must see due to the incredible architecture here and the history. I would recommend going early as it is a popular place. Also I was there in April and it was so hot it was very hard to walk around here. I spent most of my time searching for the next cold drink or ice cream! There are some beautiful buildings here and if you are a photographer like me then have your camera ready! Once you have explored the town, head to the coast here and the sea that surrounds the Fort. Here you will find a beautiful lighthouse right on the water front. It is also a lovely spot for photos.
Watch the sunset at the insta famous rope swing beach
Dalawella beach is home to the instagrammable swing on the beach. I actually came here at sunset and it wasn’t too busy! It is a lovely beach that you can walk along for quite a while, as it is quite a long beach. You will also reach another instagrammable spot with a rock you can climb onto, where a lot of people get photos. You pay a small fee to swing on this rope. I didn’t actually do it as I hate swings! But it did look fun. Although after a while there was a bit of queue so go on the swing earlier rather than later.
Try surfing in Weligama
I have never surfed but Weligama is a great place to learn! The waves aren’t too big, at times, so perfect conditions to learn. Hiring a board is very cheap and lessons aren’t much more. I dint actually end up getting lessons and went body boarding instead! However, you do need to be careful of the waves, as some days they can be huge! In April the waves can be very big, and I too half of the beach home with me! On another note, don’t wear your best swimwear. I really couldn’t wear my swimsuit again after this as it was definitely no longer white from all the sand! Saying that, it was some of the most fun moments of my whole trip! Weligama is around an hour away from Hotel Tri.
Watch the sunset at the Coconut Tree Hill in Mirissa
Mirissa is also a good place for some beach time. You can surf here too, but the beach is much nicer. Therefore I would say choose Weligama for surfing, and Mirissa for sunbathing. My favourite place in Mirissa for sunset was Coconut Tree Hill. This is a small piece of land that juts our into the sea covered in palm trees!
It is a very popular spot, so head here early to reserve your spot. It was great for flying the drone though, as at the top of the hill there is a big bare area, so an easy spot to take off from. The sunset here is just beautiful. If you come in a tuk tuk, they will drop you off near a small path. Nice you walk down the path it will be obvious which way to go. On the way back, we actually walked along the beach the whole back to Mirissa Town. It is not a long walk from the main beach area, but we got a tuk tuk here to beat the other people!
Read more: 2 Week Sri Lanka Itinerary
Central Sri Lanka
Inland Sri Lanka has so much to offer. Even though there are no beaches here, there is so much history and so many places to see!
Best boutique hotels in Sri Lanka: Theva Residency
This stunning hotel is around 10 minutes drive away from the centre of Kandy. Kandy is a town set around a beautiful lake. Surrounding the town are huge mountains. Theva Residency is set up high on one of the mountains. The road here has lots of turns and your ears may pop! It is quite high up, but this means the views are so good! My room wasn’t even on the highest level of this hotel and still the views were stunning. The room was spacious and had a lovely balcony. It is a short walk to the infinity pool. This is the best place to watch the sunset. There are a few sunbeams around the pool and it was never very busy while I was there. It really is a very peaceful hotel. It is a small hotel and has a small restaurant just above the pool level.
How is the food?
The breakfast I could eat every day for the rest of my life!! The night before you are asked whether you would like a Western or Sri Lankan breakfast. I had been to Sri Lanka before and I love Sri Lankan breakfast but this really was the best one I’ve ever had. It consisted of string hoppers and egg hoppers. String hoppers are like noodles in a circle shape, and egg hoppers are basically bowl shaped pancakes with an egg cooked inside. It is hard to explain so just look at the photo below! This comes with different types of curries and fresh fruits. You really must try it. I didn’t have lunch here but the dinner was just as good. Everyone was very friendly and I felt very welcome here.
What to do near Theva Residency?
Explore Kandy Town
Kandy Town is a lovely town to walk around. Head here to take a walk around the lake. You can also come to the town in the evening to watch some traditional Sri Lankan dancing. This involves some hot coal walking, fire breathing and all sorts!
Visit the Temple of the Tooth
Make sure you are appropriately dressed before you head here. You will not be allowed to enter unless you have covered your shoulders and are wearing long trousers. It is a beautiful temple and houses one of Buddha’s teeth. It is a very popular place for both tourists and Sri Lankans so I would recommend getting here early to beat the crowds.
Travel to Sigiriya Rock
A bit of a drive away from Kandy but not to be missed while you are in Sri Lanka. Sigiriya Rock once was home to a high palace right on top of the rock. Now you can climb the steps up here to see the ruins of this amazing place. It is very high up s the views are incredible. However, it is very pricey, at around 30 dollars each! I would recommend a much cheaper and less touristy option.
This rock is about 10 minutes away from Sigiriya. It is a harder walk up as it is less man made. However, the view of the sunset from up here was one of the most beautiful I had seen in Sri Lanka. It does get busy up here but there is plenty of space for everyone. There is a small temple as you start climbing up, where you will have to take off your shoes and cover your shoulders. You also pay a contribution but it is much less than the price for Sigiriya.
Once you have seen everything in Kandy, take the train to Ella!
I would recommend staying in Kandy for a few nights, maybe just two maximum. It is a great place to stop and spend a day or two but then start your trip down south. The train to Ella really lives up to the hype. I have never been so amazed for 6 hours on a train. The views were beautiful the ENTIRE way. Endless rice fields, palm trees and mountains to look at. Just make sure to book a second class carriage so you can open the windows. I heard that first class has air conditioning so you can’t open the windows to look outside or get a photo.
Where to stay in Ella?
Off the topic of best boutique hotels in Sri Lanka, I actually stayed in a hostel here. It was called Hangover Hostels and was very close to the train station, so no need for a tuk tuk. Ella is a great place to stay in a hostel, as there is so much to do and it is great to find some people to do all the activities with! Head to my Ella Blog to find out where the best waterfall is and all the best hikes and sunset spots! If you down fancy a hostel, there are also some lovely hotels with infinity pools. I actually came for the day to one of these to cool down and relax for one day.
Best boutique hotels in Sri Lanka: Western Sri Lanka
Colombo is where you will most likely start your trip. Once you land here, you can either head straight on, or stay one night. Although it is a capital city, I think it is good to spend one day here and see what it is like! It is a bit chaotic but good to experience!
Jetwing Colombo Seven
This was the perfect hotel to get over jet lag. It is a tall hotel, but with a very boutique feel. The room was very big and comfortable and overlooked a lot of greenery. It doesn’t feel it from down on the street level, but Colombo is actually very green! The best part is of course the infinity pool, which is also the best place to watch the sunset!
How is the food?
The breakfast buffet was delicious. So much choice and a very nice layout. All the staff were very friendly and I had a great time staying at Jetwing Colombo Seven.
What to do in Colombo?
Visit the mosque – Jami Ul-Alfar Mosque
This is one of the most amazing pieces of architecture. The red and white stripes make this such a striking place to visit. Women are allowed inside, provided you cover up with the clothes provided. If you don’t boil, then you can wander around the courtyard, but no further. The inside of the mosque is for men only.
Wander through the Pettah Market
Markets are always fun! Head here and practice haggling and get into the Asian way of life!
I hope you enjoyed this post on the best boutique hotels in Sri Lanka! If you have any questions please let me know in the comments. If you really want to treat yourself, Hotel Trip really is the best place to stay in the south. Theva Residency in Kandy is a must stay. When you land in Colombo, remember to take a few nights to relax and work on your tan while getting over any jet lag at Jetwing Colombo 7!