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Gorgeous boutique hotel's in Sri Lanka

Tour planners – Sri Lanka in Style

While I am not usually one to rely on the services of a tour operator I can recommend you use this group.  They have both consultants in most countries and local operators who try their best to make your trip run smoothly.  One of the main benefits is that they have a network of quality guides, which you will need to explore the island.

Many of my fellow travellers complained of drivers who didn’t provide any information and kept wanting to go to shops and places where they could collect commission.  Having an experienced guide drive you around makes all the difference to the quality of your trip.  So if you’re interested in learning about the country it’s worth the investment.  Almost without exception the quality of the hotels was excellent and they will work with you to meet any budget constraints. Ask for Sam who proved to be an excellent guide and knowledgeable on all things local.

Colombo – The Wallawwa

This hotel is approximately 30 minutes from the airport and is obviously recommended for the beginning and end of your stay.  As many of the international flights arrive and leave at obscene hours its very handy.  I must say that as I drove through the outer suburbs I thought it was an unlikely location for a hotel. However as you pull down a small drive an oasis opens before you.  This is a very boutique hotel so don’t expect a sweeping entrance and vast lobby.

There is however a well restored old house located in tranquil gardens.  There is a long veranda, which is busy with guests arriving and leaving most of the day.  The food is comforting and you can calm your nerves with a gin and tonic under the fans.  The décor is very modern Sri Lanka with lovely lime washed walls and tasteful antiques.

Cultural Triangle – Ulagalla

This is a very new hotel complex out in the countryside not far from the major attractions in the Cultural Triangle.  The resort had just opened when I visited so was just settling into itself.  However it has all the makings of a lovely experience.

The rooms are individual bungalows set in farmland.  Each is well appointed with a sitting room and flat screen TV.  This proved to be a luxury and took some time to find another.  If your villa is some distance from the main complex there is also a lap pool which once the tress grow looks like it will be a nice private escape.  You’re a little at the mercy of reception coming and picking you up because its not recommended to walk around in the dark.

The highlight is probably the abundance of birds and wildlife surrounding the villas.  You can open the blinds to a troop of monkeys or pair of peacocks.  My only regret was that I didn’t have enough time to walk around the grounds to enjoy the birdlife.

Kandy – Kandy House

This boutique hotel is both stylish and sophisticated.  It is approximately 30 minutes out of town but to be honest I see that as an advantage, providing the perfect escape from the buzz of Kandy.  The house is a renovated traditional house and is delightful. Be sure to ask for the elegant and quieter upstairs rooms.  Set in a tropical garden with a tranquil swimming pool you couldn’t ask for a more relaxing spot after the hustle and bustle of Kandy.

The food is tasty and served in the veranda at the back of the house.  Local fresh fruit are an excellent start to the day.  Everyone in the house is friendly and helpful and I have not heard of a better option to stay in Kandy.

Kandy – Helga’s Folly

Nothing prepares you for the hotel that is Helga’s Folly. Helga is a very eccentric but enthusiastic host with a taste for the wild and wonderful.  Every spot on the walls is covered with murals, paintings, magazine articles, family pictures or fashion magazines. It’s certainly not to everyone’s taste and the facilities are in need of an upgrade and well due a spring clean.  Pop in for a cuppa or dinner if you want to come and experience this enclave and hear Helga’s tales of another world.

The tea country – The Dutch House Bandarawela

This house is a great option for exploring the surrounding tea country.  There are a many plantations close by and its great country for those who like walking.  If you don’t you can sit by the indoor pool and enjoy the garden.  This destination would be perfect for a family or group alike as only one booking is taken at a time. So you can enjoy the 3 bedroom house to yourself.  The delightful hosts are always around for a chat or to help plan your day’s activities.

Yala National Park – Kulu Safari

Yala National Park is an amazing opportunity to see the wildlife in its natural habitat and get an idea of what the early explorers may have seen.  There is no better way to experience it that staying in the national park.  This gives you the opportunity to be out looking for wildlife from the centre of the park rather than the gates.  Mark is a superb host and tries his utmost to great all guests at the gate. Depending on the time of the day you then travel the 30 minutes or so into the park to the camp where you meet the other guests and make yourself at home.

An evening safari is finished with a soothing gin and tonic and a story or two from Mark.  Meals are simple but tasty and skilfully turned out from the camp kitchen.  The tents are comfortable but as Mark jokingly points out don’t have air-conditioning or flat screen televisions. The passion for the park and wildlife rubs off on even the seasoned traveller and most become instant friends under the hospitality provided by Mark.  It’s a must do if you have the time in Sri Lanka.

Turtle Bay Hotel – Tangalle

This is a well regarded hotel with simple rooms overlooking an amazing beach.  The location was great but I confess to not finding the staff particularly knowledgeable about the area.  So if you’re like me and aim to explore do the research yourself before you go.  The nearby fishing village is worth a walk down to and take a look at all the fishing boats launching for the night.

Taprobane Island

A truly magic destination, that is a once in a lifetime opportunity.  By no means a luxury fit out this island fits like a comfortable shoe. Be prepared to wade out through the surf to reach your island paradise.  Packing light is a definite must for this getaway.  But once you climb onto the jetty and through the threshold you’ll wish you could stay forever.

It’s not an all weather destination as one visitor told me having visited during the monsoon season. When it was a home I read records on the island indicating it was a seasonal house.  But its withstood the test of time and tsunami’s to be a tranquil oasis.  The house staff are incredible and will wade across to the markets to fetch any particular items you’d like to eat for dinner. The food was excellent with a highlight being the calamari.

When in Galle I also visited their sister boutiques in Sun House and the Dutch House.  Both lovely getaways just out of Galle and worth considering if you don’t necessarily want to stay the whole time in the fort.

Galle Fort – Galle Fort Hotel

This house has been carefully restored by Australian and Malaysian partners.  Its right in the centre of the fort and offers a perfect opportunity to stroll and explore the streets in your own time. Like many of the boutique hotels you enjoy your meals under the veranda.  The food proved to be very good and had a nice variety. Try the pancakes for breakfast.

The other advantage is that the front of the hotel contains a lively bar.  Doesn’t sound any less than you’d expect but believe it or not it’s not a common occurrence.  So take a seat in the cane chairs and watch the street life pass you by from the veranda.

Galle Coast – Kahanda Kanda

This is another unique spot set away from it all. In the distance you can see Koggala Lake across the surrounding jungle.  The resort is new but feels like its been there for ages.  Each bungalow has spacious bathrooms and many have balconies overlooking the bush.  Little touches like an ipod station make it feel very homely.

George and the team make sure you are well catered for.  The grounds are more than large enough to ensure no-one is tripping over each other. There are after all only 6 rooms.  George tells stories of amazing weddings being held there are you can immediately see why. The lounge facilities are great and they mix a mean cocktail to help wash down the luxury.

Everyone is made to feel special at the Kahanda Kanda which is what makes it a truly boutique experience.  Right from the greeting with a refreshing towel and flower garland, to any meal requests. A destination in its own right.

Travel photographs from Sri Lanka\'s boutique hotels. Travel images include Taprobane Island, Kandy House, Kahanda Kanda, Dutch House Galle Fort, Sun House, Dutch House Tea Country, Wallawwa Hotel and Ulagalla Hotel

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