Sri Lanka’s Chic Boutique Hotels

Hotels & Resorts, Sri Lanka — By on February 3, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Lost Girl Julie Falconer recently took a trip to Sri Lanka and sampled a range of the country’s boutique hotels. Read on for a selection of her personal essays of her trip experiences. See Julie’s London travel blog and Sri Lanka travel website for more stories.

Over the past few years, Sri Lanka has undergone a revolution in boutique hotel offerings. The country, which experienced a long period of civil war that only recently ended, is home to an increasing number of top-notch lodgings that offer visitors an attractive alternative to large hotel chains.

As my journey through Sri Lanka continued from the tea country to the beaches, I had the opportunity to explore a wide range of options for Sri Lankan boutique accommodations. I wanted to check out as many of them as I could to get a feel for the style and quality of the country’s more intimate lodgings.

Tintagel ColomboStarting in Colombo, I found myself in a chic boutique bolt-hole called the Tintagel Colombo. The hotel was housed in a beautiful historic mansion that once belonged to the family of Sri Lanka’s first female president. The interior was decorated in contemporary style, and featured a comfortable lounge in the lobby, a low-lit library, a restaurant, and a spacious outdoor terrace for al fresco dining. The hotel’s guest rooms were stylishly decorated and had large balconies for relaxing on warm days.

The location was great, too. Located in one of the nicest residential neighborhoods in Colombo, the Tintagel was near the famous department store Odel and sightseeing attractions like the National Museum of Colombo.

The only drawbacks of the hotel were some odd stains on the white furniture in my room and the fact that I asked several times for the safe to be opened and still nobody came. Still, it was a good stay overall.

Moving on from Colombo, I stayed a night at the Theva Residency in Kandy. The hotel was built on the side of a high hill overlooking the city, and offered a calm oasis outside of the bustling center.

My room was spacious, and had white walls with yellow accents. There was a large balcony outside with an outdoor shower, which I would have used if it hadn’t rained the entire time I was there. The indoor shower was a bit awkward in that the bathroom featured a window into the room, making for a bit of a strange situation if guests aren’t very close with their roommates.

Outside of the rooms, the Theva Residency had a small sitting area by the bar and a dining room that overlooked the valley below. There were also well-manicured gardens, ponds, and a large swimming pool. The staff was welcoming, and the food was good, and it was surprisingly easy to get a tuk tuk into town despite being a few kilometers up the hill.

From the hills of Kandy, my trip took me south to the beaches. I stayed for two nights at the Frangipani Tree Hotel in Thalpe, a few kilometers from the famous town of Galle with its historic Dutch fort. The hotel was right on the beach in a secluded area off the main road. With only nine guest rooms, it had the intimate feel of a private getaway.

My room at the Frangipani Tree was enormous, and my bathroom was almost as large. I was on the first floor, which was also the top floor, and my room had wooden-shuttered windows on three sides, giving it a light and breezy feel that offset the contemporary concrete interior. The big four-poster bed had gauzy white mosquito nets, and there was a desk with a big vase of flowers in the middle of the room. The bathroom had a big tub, a large open shower, and plenty of sink space.

Outside there was a huge swimming pool and ample deck chairs for sunbathing. Tables were scattered throughout the garden, giving me the welcome opportunity to dine outdoors for every meal. The food was delicious, and I tried everything from fresh jumbo prawns to the best vegetable curry I had on my trip.

When I wanted the beach, it was right there in front of my room, and when I wanted the town, it was a 10-minute tuk tuk ride to Galle Fort. I felt like I was getting the best of both worlds, with relaxation and quiet at the hotel, and the busy town just a short ride away. The only thing not to like was that I had to negotiate very hard with the tuk tuk drivers to get them to take me to the hotel for a reasonable price.

The breadth of Sri Lanka’s boutique accommodation options was a surprise to me at first but, upon talking to the locals, I learned that many more are in the works. As the country recovers from civil war and the tourism industry recovers with it, new boutique lodgings are popping up throughout every region. I didn’t have the chance to visit all of them on this trip, but I look forward to exploring more the next time I go to Sri Lanka.

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