10 of Sri Lanka’s best new luxury hotels

There are some truly exceptional boutique and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka, and more are popping up each year. From the ultra-stylish to cosy colonial tea bungalows, there is something to suit everyone’s preferences. Following a recent research trip, we at Ampersand have found and experienced ten of the very best new luxury hotels in Sri Lanka…

1. Water Garden, Sigiriya

A brand-new luxury opening in the heart of Sigiriya, Water Garden is a real game changer and offers everything one might wish for after a day’s exploring the local temples and sites. It boasts the best-uninterrupted view of Sigiriya in the area, an Olympic size pool as well as fantastic organic food and a stylish bar overlooking Lion Rock. The villas which are scattered amongst the beautifully landscaped resort, are spacious and luxurious. We particularly recommend those which come with their own private plunge pool; what better way to spend your evening, than watching the sun set over Sigiriya from the privacy of your own pools, whilst you sip on a cooling Arak Sour.

Water Garden, Sigiriya

2. Thotalagala, Haputale

Approaching its one year anniversary, Thotalagala has been a firm favourite of ours from the start. It typifies the glorious experience one would have from staying in the Hill Country; spectacular and dramatic views over tea plantations and as far as the eye can see, old-world colonial charm and a warm and inviting atmosphere; the renovated planter’s bungalow just oozes style and elegance. The staff here are exceptional and the food is both varied and delicious, nicely complemented with a spectacular wine list which happens to be unlimited and included for all stays! And just when you think life can’t get any better, enjoy a champagne picnic breakfast atop Lipton’s Seat – they views could not be more spectacular.

thotalagala

3. Dunkeld, Bogawantalawa Valley

Another favourite in the Hill Country is the renowned Tea Trails’ latest residence, Dunkeld. Slightly more masculine in appearance, but just as stylish as its siblings, Dunkeld hits all the right notes. Think gorgeous lake-side location, with outstanding views over Castlereagh, deep leather armchairs and a billiard room, not to mention as well as the best high tea in Sri Lanka. It is the perfect hideaway to enjoy whiskies by a roaring fire. Tea Trails have also started offering dreamy boat rides across Castlereagh linking Dunkeld, Castlereagh and Summerville bungalows – meaning you now can experience the best of all worlds.

dunkeld-bogawantalawa-valley

4. Santani, near Kandy

Sri Lanka’s latest hottest ticket in town, Santani proudly stands as the only Wellness Retreat on the island. Whilst still in its infancy stage, Santani is already looking very sleek and running a slick operation. The main building housing the restaurant is an impressive glass-framed structure, comprising of custom made Scandinavian, minimalist-inspired, wooden furniture which blends in seamlessly with the gorgeous surroundings. The building itself is fantastic, reclaimed teak wooden flooring, infinitely high ceilings and open sides which let in the air but not the rain; there is really something quite inspiring about the space. Which is just as well, as the focus is very much on uplifting you to your better self. Santani is definitely one to watch closely over the coming months.

santani

5. Chena Huts, Yala National Park

If you are looking to go on safari but are not keen on roughing it, look no further – Chena Huts is the perfect property. Located as close to Yala National Park as you can possibly get, Chena has fourteen identical cabins which are spread over seven acres. Each cabin is equally as private and luxurious, boasting a generous private terrace and plunge pool. When you’re not on safari you can sit back and enjoy the show unfolding in front of you, it truly is a 24-hour wildlife experience! To top it off they offer an all-inclusive package and their pizzas, which are homemade in their wood-fired oven, are some of the best in Sri Lanka (and could be a welcome change from rice and curry…).

chena huts

6. Ani Villas, Tangalle

If you’re after an exclusive and wonderfully indulgent villa (or two) Ani Villas is the perfect place for you. Ideal for larger gatherings, you can expect a private villa experience, with impeccable hotel service and amenities. The views over the ocean are second to none, the rooms are as luxurious as you would expect and the food is freshly made to order and fabulous. It’s also very much tucked away off the beaten track, so you can enjoy this secluded piece of paradise all for yourself. It’s also child-friendly, and the slide (which is well integrated into the design of the property) makes for a wonderfully fun touch for family holidays!

ani villas

7. Fort Bazaar, Galle Fort

This is Galle Fort’s newest and sexiest addition, from the Teardrop Collection. The team here have done a fantastic job at restoring the beautiful original property and keeping it in tune with tradition, whilst still incorporating some fun and modern touches. There’s a North African/Moroccan feel to it, which is a refreshing change from the prevalent quaint Dutch colonial style in Galle, but the atmosphere is so warm and inviting, and the space so open and well executed, that this is only a plus. Besides, the premises used to be home to spice and gem traders so the theme seems quite apt! Their restaurant serves some of the best food in town and is definitely becoming a favourite amongst locals and tourists alike for a fun evening out!

Fort Bazaar, Galle Fort

8. KK Beach, Galle

This is George Cooper’s (of Kahanda Kanda fame) newest project; a fantastically located, beachfront boutique hotel. Within close proximity to Galle it’s the perfect base for visiting the Fort but also great for activities. Numerous water sports are on offer, as well as diving and whale watching, and wonderful cycling tours can take you through the surrounding rice paddies and countryside too. It’s also close by to buzzy Wijaya beach, and to top it off there are complimentary transfers to and from Kahanda Kanda, which is just twenty minutes away, meaning that guests can experience the best of both worlds! Spend the morning on the beach with the cerulean sea lapping at your toes, and the afternoon lying by the infinity pool overlooking the tea plantations. Bliss.

KK Beach, Galle

9. Tri Lanka, Galle

Tri is a unique and wonderful property located in the peaceful countryside just outside of Galle. Focusing on yoga and wellness, a stay here is guaranteed to be restorative and relaxing. There are fantastic views over Koggala Lake from the sexy infinity pool, a menu with incredible and inventive food to die for and wonderfully charming staff – it’s the best bolthole if you need to take a break from the busy world and recharge. We particularly love and highly recommend the Lake Villas, which are a true oasis of peace and quiet.

Tri Lanka, Galle

10. Anantara Peace Haven, Tangalle

For those who like to have it all, Anantara Peace Haven is the perfect place. Located on the south coast it is a great base for visiting the sights, but you could just as easily set up camp here. On a lovely stretch of sand, it caters for absolutely everything and everyone. Take your pick from their four restaurants or even choose to dine in private somewhere romantic on the premises. They offer amazing cooking classes, provide bicycles, have tennis and badminton courts, a children’s club, a gym and a huge spa. We recommend you stay in the Pool Villas, which are particularly wonderful!

Anantara Peace Haven, Tangalle

James Jayasundera is Founder and Managing Director of Ampersand Travel.

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Comments (1)

  1. John says:

    I really like the look of Santani with its Wellness Retreat. It seems like the operators have put some thought into this and it obviously shows.

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