Sri Lanka’s increasing range of chic and affordable hotels and guesthouses makes it possible to stay in style and on a budget, across the country.
From small and personable city-centre sleeps to stays on working farms in Ella’s hills and in amongst traditional south coast villages within cycling distance of prime surf beaches, Sri Lanka’s budget hotels attract couples, families and digital nomads. Styled out of former family homes, art-deco cottages and eco-style bungalows, many are driven by owners keen to offer tips for enriching their guests’ stay.
Unawatuna, Sri Lanka
Jav Censored 8 Telegraph expert ratingHaving found the ideal plot to create a calm sanctuary, KAJU GREEN’s owner set about designing a small, low-impact eco-hotel camouflaged within the verdant palm grove. Buildings have an open concept and the high-ceilinged living/dining pavilion – a striking minimalist structure furnished with contemporary, custom-designed pieces – is completely open-sided to give the impression of being outdoors. The seven fan-cooled lodges are simple semi-open box structures with platform beds, and sliding doors open onto a protruding seat – a lovely spot for quietly stealing away and gazing into the greenery where birds and monitor lizards roam.
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Aathma Colombo House
Located on the banks of the Diyawanna Lake in Battaramulla, this hotel has an eclectic, highly personal design style coupled with an engaging management team to make it a Colombo standout. Interiors are bright and bold, inspired by European tile art and artists such as Gaudí – expect vibrant mosaics, hanging pottery, mandalas, cartwheels and painted timber antiques. The five rooms have individual colour schemes, fabrics, furnishings and artwork along with firm queen- or king-sized beds. Tantra, a seductive monochrome suite with an indoor whirlpool tub, attracts couples; garden-facing Kavya is ideal for those on a budget.Read expert reviewFrom£74per nightCheck availabilityRates provided byBooking.com
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Arugam Bay, Ampara District, Sri Lanka
8 Telegraph expert ratingThis family-owned guesthouse sits in the heart of surfing spot Arugam Bay, yet is blissfully hidden within mature tropical gardens. Interiors are simply yet cleanly styled while the open-fronted restaurant’s casual vibe makes this a great place to mingle and meet other guests. At the back of the property is a swimming pool with built-in sunset-facing whirlpool benches and a children’s paddling area. A timber yoga shala with ceiling fans overlooks the pool and hosts classes with visiting teachers twice a day.Read expert reviewFrom£53per night
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AVANI Bentota Resort & Spa
Bentota, Sri Lanka
8 Telegraph expert ratingThere’s no mistaking this to be a traditional beach resort though it’s main point of difference is that it was conceived by architect Geoffrey Bawa and inspired by 18th-century Dutch design. It’s squarely located on wide, sandy Bentota Beach, a popular destination for languid holidays with water sports and activities on tap. The long palm-shaded lawn is a real draw and there are two swimming pools. Upper-floor Superior rooms have the best ocean views while Deluxe rooms have fairly deep well-shaded terraces.Read expert reviewFrom£80per nightCheck availabilityRates provided byBooking.com
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Amba Estate Sri Lanka
Uva, Sri Lanka
8 Telegraph expert ratingAmba is one of Sri Lanka’s most charming and well-run guesthouse in the centre of 120-acre organic estate. The rooms are furnished with antique or custom-made four-poster beds, Dutch-style almirahs and rattan planter’s chairs, while basketry adorns the walls; the feel is communal and convivial. Local food is championed at meal times, reads and jams are homemade, and many of the vegetables are organically grown. If you’d like to explore outdoors, this is the place – indulge in scenic picnics or hike to waterfalls, viewpoints and secret caves.Read expert reviewFrom£41per night
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Ceylon Tea Bungalows
Bandarawela, Sri Lanka
7 Telegraph expert ratingThis hotel is secluded and extremely serene, tucked onto a hillside amidst the 20-acre Hilpankandura Tea Estate; the intimate atmosphere and the warmth of the staff make it feel more like an upmarket homestay than a hotel. Floor lights, floral wallpaper and honey-coloured timber furnishings bring this simple 1930s tea estate manager’s bungalow into the 21st century. There are five rooms in total, the best being the very spacious Windermere Suite, which opens onto the main front veranda yet has its own area for private dining
Colombo, Sri Lanka
7 Telegraph expert ratingThis simple vintage-style b&b in a colonial-style residential home breathes new life into Colombo’s upmarket neighbourhood, Cinnamon Gardens. The five rooms are all on the first floor and the owners have furnished the upper hallways with comfortable sofas so that there are convivial lounge areas for spreading out. Minimally-styled air-conditioned spaces are furnished with the bare essentials and are all slightly different. The beds are king-sized four-posters (one room has twin beds) dressed with soft duvets, and are very comfortable. Colombo’s main sights, such as the National Museum and the Galle Face Green, can all be reached within a 10-minute drive.