If you’re travelling to Sri Lanka and you want to stay in some cute, stylish and friendly boutique hotels then this the hotel guide for you. We’re not saying there’s anything wrong with big hotels but personally we’re just bigger fans of smaller places. Places where you come to know the staff and everything is just a little bit more personal. We stayed in each one of these little boutique hotels during our stay in Sri Lanka and fell in love with each one for different reasons.
The Pineapple Villa, Wathurugama
The Pineapple Villa was the first hotel we went to when we landed in Sri Lanka. It’s the perfect place to acclimatise to your surroundings and unwind! It’s a teeny three bedroom old colonial house in the middle of rural village about an hour out of Colombo. The staff are incredibly welcoming and can’t do enough for you. We arrived at five in the morning, nine hours before their official check in time, and they sorted our room straight away and let us nap until morning.
The hotel is super stylish with an obvious pineapple theme running all the way through. The rooms are a good size and they all have the most adorable outside bathrooms. We shared ours with a little lizard who would visit us in the shower every now and again.
One of our favourite things about The Pineapple Villa was the food. For dinner you can order an incredible spread of Sri Lankan curries and there is so much food we don’t even think an ‘all you can eat champion’ would be able to finish it! It’s massive. It is a little on the expensive side for Sri Lanka at £22 per person, but it is delicious and was our first taste of pineapple curry, which we have to say is now one of our favourite dishes!
We didn’t actually leave the entire time we were at The Pineapple Villa. It was a tranquil little haven where we spent most our time lying by the pool reading and napping, adjusting to the heat and the time difference. We’re not sure if there is much to do in the immediate area but it is a wonderful place to start your adventure.
The Elephant Stables, Dambulla
When we pulled up to this breathtaking hotel in our little TukTuk we felt almost too dirty and dusty to go inside. The Elephant Stables, Dambulla is set at the top of a tall ridge which means it has incredible views all over the Dambulla hills. You can see for miles either side and it truly is an awe-inspiring view. We actually spent most of the time we were hear sat in our bungalow garden looking at the view, or lying by the pool looking at the view, or eating in the restaurant looking at the view. This hotel is all about the view and to be honest what more do you want in the hills of Sri Lanka!?
The hotel itself has been recently renovated which means all the rooms, communal areas and pool are beautifully presented! There is nothing we can fault about this hotel and it was actually Camilla’s favourite while we were there.
As it is the sister hotel of The Pineapples Villa they also offer an incredible Sri Lankan dinner spread which again was incredibly delicious! Only thing missing was the pineapple curry but there were definitely some other yummy dishes to compensate! Again, it’s quite expensive in terms of Sri Lankan eating but trust us you’re not going to want to take you eyes off that sunset while you’re there!
We chose to stay in this hotel because while we were in Dambulla we wanted to head to Pidurangala Rock for sunrise which overlooks the famous Sigiria Rock, or lion rock as it is know by locals. Pidurangala Rock is only a 45-minute drive away in a car which we hired from the hotel and the views at sunrise were absolutely stunning.
We only had one night at this incredible hotel but we could have stayed longer. It was so calm, friendly and beautiful. It is a hotel you could just lay about in for a couple to days to be honest, that view is never getting old!
Simpson Forest Hotel, Kandy
Simpson Forest Hotel was the biggest of the hotels we stayed in, but due to all the rooms being spread out across the land it still had a really intimate feel. It was built on an old tea plantation and now they still grow their own tea and lemons. When we arrived we were offered a lemon sorbet, which was delicious, along with a choice of drinks. The staff at Simpson Forest Hotel can honestly not do enough for you. They were attentive the whole stay giving us lots of information and support.
The main part of the hotel is set in the old living quarters of the workers which has been renovated and is beautifully presented. As soon as you arrive you feel the luxury vibe and settle right in.
The hotel is spread out so you can either walk on foot or get a golf buggy to help you around – we’ll admit we were lazy and did this once to get to the pool! The Hotel has a restaurant, bar, infinity pool, nature walk and helicopter pad… just incase you wanted to upgrade from the TukTuk.
It was such a beautiful hotel again we spent a lot of time by the pool. The pool is on the upper level of the complex and, like The Elephant Stables in Dambulla, the views were insane! We watched the most beautiful sunset up here with a cocktail in hand and it was honestly perfect.
We were staying in because we were getting the train from Kandy to Ella the day after and wanted to be close to the station. Simpson Forest Hotel is less than an hour away form Kandy but still far away enough to feel like you’re in the jungle.
However, we didn’t realised the train tickets from Kandy to Ella needed to be booked at least 32 days in advance online unless you risk purchasing them on the day. We didn’t want to risk this and we had missed the cut off for booking in advance. Luckily, the hotel kindly sourced some tickets for us from a friendly local. They were a little bit more expensive than they would be straight from the ticket office at 2000 Sri Lankan Rupees which is about £8, but to forget the stress was so worth it.
To be honest, one thing which didn’t blow us away at Simpson Forest Hotel was the food. The hotel itself is incredible as is the views, the staff and even the cheeky little monkeys which live around the property. However, the food was average. They have the dinner hall set up as a buffet which is all well and good, but the food itself was just a bit bland. We would definitely recommend staying at Simpson Forest Hotel but we would suggest not going half board and eating dinner out.
Chill Ville, Ella
Oh where do we start with this place!? We had just got off a six-hour and ten-minute train journey and we were driven into the hills of Ella to this incredible property. As soon as we arrived we were upgraded to the honeymoon suite and the whole experience just got better and better from there! This was my favourite hotel of the whole trip and I will tell you why.
Firstly, the view again is insane. It’s at the top of a rather large hill and you can see for miles. Our room had beautiful glass doors which overlooked the hills uninterrupted so you could wake up and just lay in bed looking at the beauty surrounding you. The view was not only beautiful from the room but throughout the whole property!
Secondly, the food. Oh my gosh! It was delicious. The breakfast was full of fresh fruit, eggs and bacon, different types of pastries, curd and honey. It was all delicious and abundant! Their snack menu was delicious too, especially the Samosa!!
Lying by the pool, with that view, snacking on samosas will be on of my highlights from the trip for sure! We didn’t actually eat in the restaurant but after all the things we did try we can’t for one second believe it will be bad. We did however eat at its sister restaurant the Chill Cafe. It was a 20-minute TukTuk into town which was only 700 Sri Lankan Rupees (about £3) and then you also get your first two drinks free. We again went traditional Sri Lankan curry and it came wrapped in a banana leaf – delicious!
Ella town has such a vibe it’s definitely one to visit! We also ate at AK restaurant on the second evening which does some fabulous Sri Lankan food again but along with Japanese food as the owner is half Japanese!
Thirdly, it is one of Sri Lanka’s only plastic free hotels so everything is wooden, metal or glass and after the amount of rubbish we saw in some parts of Sri Lanka this was greatly appreciated.
We were in Ella as we wanted to see the Nine Arches Bridge, 20-minutes away from the hotel, and also enjoy a little bit of nature. While we were there the hotels TukTuk driver Dishan took us to a secret waterfall which we had pretty much all to ourselves for the whole day!
Plus, as we left the staff handed us four boxes of packed lunch because they knew we had a long drive down to Galle. They didn’t ask us if we needed it, they didn’t charge us, they just gave it to us which we think sums up the nature of the hotel.
Bilin Tree House, Galle
Bilin Tree House in Galle was our final stop in Sri Lanka. We headed to Galle because we wanted a little bit of beach time and some relaxation at the end of the trip. Bilin Tree House isn’t in the middle of Galle Fort which makes it a lot more reasonable, but it is a tranquil little oasis in a quite neighbourhood on the outskirts.
Again the staff we absolutely fantastic and they couldn’t do enough for us. They would even walk us to the end of the road to help flag down a TutTuk. They really wanted to ensure we had the best experience.
Bilin Tree House is a small place with only a few rooms, a pool, an eating area and beautiful gardens. The whole set up is quaint, personal and we felt really at home here. Nature is woven into all aspects of the property and its gardens hold an array of different trees and plants. We were shown round the garden one morning and they had cinnamon bushes, lemons, mangos, Aloe Vera plants and black pepper trees. We even had the honour of trying the famous Bilin fruit which they grow – hence the name. We’re not sure we’re going to be snacking on it as it is like a really, really tart Granny Smith Apple with a cucumber consistency. But at least we gave it a go.
The hotel is less than an ten-minute TukTuk to Galle Fort which costs about 300 Sri Lankan Rupees. Galle Fort is a cute little place which has narrow streets, colourful houses and lot fo fab restaurants. On our last evening we ate at A Minute by TukTuk which is near the old Dutch Hospital which we would definitely recommend!
On the previous night however we had been invited to eat at a chilled beach front restaurant called Tartaruga. The fresh fish was absolutely delicious along with their traditional Sri Lankan curry. We sat and watched the waves, sipped our cocktails and listens to some cool but mellow music.