PART 2 – Larger Luxury Boutique Hotels in Sri Lanka
‘Boutique’, can now mean hotels of up to a hundred rooms but for us the Sri Lankan limit of fifty is more in keeping with realistic expectations of providing the highest standards of care and attention.
We’ve divided our review of luxury boutique hotels into two – Smaller and Larger. This is the second and gives you an insight into those of more than twenty but less than fifty rooms.
Part 1 that features smaller luxury boutique hotel up to twenty rooms can be found at:
We’ve visited all of them – larger and smaller – so that between our two posts you can make a preliminary selection based on how many people you wish to share your world with – and then we’ve commented on each so that you can narrow down your choices. We really like all of these hotels and any reservations we express are simply to differentiate between them and to provide some form of perspective for you.
Similarly, there may be other hotels that you feel qualify to be in the top ten but we’ve given you our selection based on those we’ve visited that excelled themselves for care and service.
All of the following have very similar facilities but for precise detail check out each of the websites that we’ve added after each comment.
Please also remember that there are a number of excellent hotels that we haven’t included that aren’t classed as boutique; having well over 50 rooms. You’ll find our reviews of some of these included in ‘The exotic treasure that’s Sri Lanka’.
Amangalla (formerly New Orient Hotel) – Galle Fort
If you seek grandeur and tradition you won’t go far wrong at Amangalla. Built in 1860 it oozes Dutch, Portuguese and British colonial influence that permeates every noon despite the name change from ‘New Orient’ some years ago.
Whilst the service is modern day and the facilities are up to scratch it’s almost as if the last colonial occupiers have just left; such is the patina and atmosphere of the Amangalla. The owners call it ‘pared back finesse’. Dining on the veranda or in the great hall is an experience in itself and the thirty rooms and suites fittingly reflect and continue the feeling of an opulence long gone.
Situated within the historic Unesco Heritage Site of Galle Fort area there’s plenty to see within a short stroll in any direction.
10 Church Street, Fort, Galle, Sri Lanka
Anilana – Nilaveli
At first glance we never imagined we’d consider the Anilana Nilaveli a boutique hotel. As you draw up outside you’ll think you’ve arrived at a government institution but on entering this perception is immediately transformed by the spacious, open, airy and crisp appearance of all you see.
Rooms are split between those adjacent to the poolside (which has echoes of art deco with its angular, bright white architecture and simple lines) with open air showers and smart décor and the more boxlike main building whose rooms still present very well. The fifty four rooms almost make it too big to be boutique but Anilana offers a stylish alternative to run of the mill hotels and would certainly give you a sense of being somewhere a little bit special. Dining is buffet style with full occupancy, reverting to a la carte with reduced numbers.
Anilana – Nilaveli: 1508 Ward4, Irakkakandi, Nilaveli
Anilana – Pasikuda
Anilana, Pasikuda, another large edifice that shares its design heritage with its sister in Nilaveli it is nevertheless a slightly ‘softer’ and more thought out version and is impressive with its room design – either poolside or in the main building (including some with lofts) or beach fronted also offering the option of adjoining rooms with lounge facilities. Overall its impressive but lacks warmth; like its sister, owing more perhaps to a modern theatre in its presentation than a hotel.
Anilana – Passikuda: No.14, Hotel Development Road, Pasikuda
Colombo Courtyard – Colombo
We’re not quite sure why we liked this hotel! Was it the spiralling metal tree made from bicycle forks that climbed up through the stairwell from the reception; the tinkling pools of fish; the roof terrace; the large first-floor restaurant fronting the main road with a full length plate glass window; or the slightly austere rooms with modern four poster beds. There’s something strangely intriguing about Colombo Courtyard that comes nowhere near the other places in this review for luxury – but if you’re looking for a buzzy central location in Colombo that many of the locals frequent on festive days and evenings and also claims sound eco-credentials then perhaps it’s for you. There’s certainly more character than in one of the cloned high-rise hotels found elsewhere – it’s just whether you want that much character! Probably best for the business man who desires something more than complete hotel anonymity.
Colombo Courtyard: 32 Alfred House Ave, Colombo 03, Sri Lanka
Maalu Maalu – Pasikuda
It seems churlish to be picky about paradise and Maalu Maalu is pretty close to excellent…but…being one of the first on this pristine crescent of white sand protected by a natural barrier reef, it’s now showing faint signs of needing to catch up with the new pretenders to its throne that form part of the dozen boutique hotels that will eventually grace this coast.
The layout of the hotel and its rooms is superb, the rooms themselves are modelled on village straw huts (with the addition of significant amounts of concrete) and offer a great section of doubles, double height loft rooms and adjoining suites. The hotel is active in local charitable initiatives, including regenerating the coral reef and we’d certainly have been happy to stay longer. Compared with its main competitor here (in our opinion Uga Bay) it’s a touch more Bohemian – but that could just as easily appeal to you.
Maalu Maalu resort & Spa: Pasikuda Beach
Sun Aqua – Pasikuda
Again, Sun Aqua stretches the boundaries of what we’d call boutique simply because of its grand presence and sprawl on Pasikuda beach – but its thirty two suites and two duplex apartments fall well within the classification.
It’s almost a surprise to find that there are as few rooms in this hotel given the overall mass of its restaurants and common areas but as soon as you’re in one of the beautifully appointed suites you understand that you’re somewhere more than a little bit special.
The décor is colourful and fun, whilst still being smart and welcoming. Splashes of colour, private pools, draped cloth, imaginative design, Sri Lankan art and ‘round the clock butlers’ all add to the individuality of the rooms, albeit the whole seems to lack cohesion. Nevertheless, we came away much more impressed than we’d anticipated on arrival; not least because of the attentive and cheerful staff.
Jetwing St.Andrews – Nuwara Eliya
Quaint and charming rather than luxury, St. Andrews can’t be far removed in style and ambience from the days when Tea Planters presided over Nuwara Eliya. It’s a rambling property with rooms that are basic, if not Spartan – but with a quirky appeal. The crackling fire in the lounge, cosy bar and refectory dining all add to its character and the staff are always attentive and friendly. Much less pretentious than other hotels in the town.
Jetwing St. Andrews: No. 10, St. Andrew’s Drive, Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka
Uga Jungle Beach – Trincomalee
Follow teak walkways and stepping stones to find your way to the rustic dwellings that either face the beach, the lagoon or are fully immersed in the jungle; where you can still hear the lapping of the waves mixed with the songs of birds in this tropical escape.
Jungle Beach offers something totally different from conventional boutique hotels and there’s a sense of individual charm and privacy in each of the identical dwellings that hide amidst the lush greenery. The several levels of wooden walkways that surround the central restaurant give the impression of being in the treetops although the reality is that you’re merely metres from the sand and sea.
You’re part of an exclusive community here but once in your lodge you might just have discovered your own jungle hideaway on your own private desert island – magic!
Uga Jungle Beach resort: 27th Kilometre post, Pulmoddai Rd., Kuchchaveli, Trincomalee, Sri Lanka
Uga Bay – Pasikuda
This was our favourite hotel in Pasikuda – not necessarily because it was uncompromising in its use of the blight of our time – concrete; choosing not to dress it in grass to disguise it but using it as a design vernacular that works fluently within its beautiful location.
The outstanding aspect of Uga Bay was its welcome, its staff and their unquestioning desire to accommodate any request wherever possible.
The rooms are large, smart and well designed by someone who has put their heart and not just a budget into it. They don’t all have the views of other hotels along this crescent beach but it’s partly deliberate because of the softening of the bright white beach vista with a palm grove that mirrors the nearby plantations.
The new Beach Villa is the equivalent of a small two storey house with its own pool and private garden leading to the beach – so if you’re a small family or group of friends it would work well as a quiet retreat.
You can’t get away from the fact that, as all in this category, its big; but it’s made smaller by its attention to detail and personal approach of the staff. Well done Uga Bay.
Uga Bay: Coconut Board Road, Passikudah, Sri Lanka
Jetwing Vil Uyana – Sigiriya
If you’re seeking truly environmentally friendly and eco-active boutique hotel, then Vil Uyana offers all you want without any compromise in luxury.
You’ll feel as if you’ve entered an Ashram as you arrive and walk across the ‘floating’ walkways between the road and electric buggy, or from reception into the main covered hallway. There’s an aura of peace, quiet and being at one with nature as you absorb your surroundings –and after settling into your spacious individual wooden dwelling that stands on stilts over the reed beds and paddy fields, or nestles into the jungle, you‘ll feel as though you’re part way to heaven.
Travelling around Sri Lanka, as with any country, can be dusty, arduous and tiring – Vil Uyana will put all that right – especially if you’ve just braved the perilous climb to the top of Sigiriya Rock Fortress; you’ll be in need of a calming spa treatment that for once isn’t buried in the dark depths of a hotel cellar but enjoys the same airy essence of natural grasses and wildlife around you.
Jetwing Vil Uyana: Sigiriya, Sri Lanka
Why not download the TLC World guide brochure or give us a call today on 01202 030443, or simply click ‘enquire’ to submit your own personal itinerary request
Full flight options can be seen at
Tourist travel to Sri Lanka increases every year without any serious problems but it pays to be aware of current advice although we’ve found it to be one of the friendliest countries we’ve visited.
If you’d like suggestions on packing to travel to Sri Lanka, see:
We arranged our travel through Worldwide Holidays, specialists to Sri Lanka to whom Cherrie is a consultant.
See separate reviews on both smaller boutique hotels that we stayed in together with other related posts that deal with different aspects of our trip in more detail.
For a general guide to Sri Lanka – see the official tourist board website