Sri Lanka: Where to Stay

palm trees in sri lanka

adamo family in Sri Lanka





Before returning to Europe at the end of May, we spent nearly a month exploring the beautiful country of Sri Lanka. It was our first time visiting, and we enjoyed getting to know the island, its happy people, its many cultures and customs, and, of course, the delicious food! We have never been to India, but fellow travellers described Sri Lanka as ‘India light’ – a slightly slower, laid-back, less intense version of its much larger neighbour. A perfect place for families, couples, backpackers and surfers, of course!

The island is small enough that given a few weeks you can travel around to explore many different areas and most people who visit here do this in some way or other. Despite being a small island, however, the weather can vary extremely from coast to coast. While it might be monsoon season on the western side of the island, it could be the dry season on the eastern side. It is worth knowing this before you visit!

We arrived toward the end of the dry (tourist) season on the western side of the island (just before the heavy rains began) and slowly made our way over to the eastern side to enjoy the start of their sunny season. We stayed in several different places over the course of our month in Sri Lanka (seeking the surf and hoping to see a variety of sights), and I thought it would be helpful to highlight them below for people who are planning or considering a trip to this beautiful island.

For booking accommodation, we used the always reliable i-escape website to help us narrow down hotels for our shorter-term stays and then rented apartments and villas for the rest. Here is a list of our favourite stays:




kids in bath at Wallawa

    1. The Wallawwa Hotel, located just 20 minutes from the Colombo airport, it is the antithesis of an ‘airport hotel.’ We stayed just one night here to settle ourselves after the long flight from Tokyo, and again on our final night in the country, readying ourselves for the long journey home. If money were no object, we would have happily moved in! The food is delicious, the rooms spacious and tastefully decorated, the grounds gorgeous and the staff incredibly friendly. They do everything right here.


villa pinthaliya in Sri Lanka

villa pinthaliya

    1. We rented a villa (through Airbnb) near Galle. We enjoyed the delicious breakfasts made for us each morning (while monkeys swung from the branches overhead) and loved being directly on the beach to watch sea turtles bob in and out of the waves. From here we took a couple day trips into Galle to explore Galle Fort and to Unawatuna for the shops and restaurants. (For a hotel option near here, we have heard wonderful things about the Fort Bazaar hotel which we discovered on the i-escape website.)


Ebb & Flow

Ebb and Flow kitchen


    1. The Ebb & Flow Jungalows in Midigama. We are so happy a fellow surfer recommended this place. The Ebb & Flow have two serviced villas, each with their own pool, two bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, kitchen and large reception area. The villas come with a chef who will prepare every meal for you should you wish, and you pay only the actual cost of groceries. We enjoyed eating delicious curries for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Chef Indy’s food was some of the best we ate in Sri Lanka!


Food at the Hideaway


The Hideaway bedroom2


    1. The Hideaway in Arugam Bay is a pretty special place. We stayed 9 days at the Hideaway and these nine days were definitely our favourite. We got to know the locals, we became friends with the hotel staff, and we befriended a tuk-tuk driver, Jaya, who spent the week with us – taking us to the beach for morning surf sessions and to the jungle for evening safaris. This part of Sri Lanka is beautiful with its great surf beaches and nearby jungle with incredible wildlife (elephants, crocodiles, leopards, peacocks, etc.). The Hideaway offers, as promised, ‘cool vibes’ in every way. We all crammed into one large ‘family’ room, slept soundly on comfy beds enveloped in mosquito nets, ate delicious meals, and loved every minute.


homeschool at the Ellerton

The ellerton front porch

The Ellerton room

The Ellerton

marlow at the Ellerton

  1. The Ellerton Hotel, located in the lush green hills outside of Kandy. This old colonial estate is one of the last remaining colonial buildings in the area. It was purchased by a British couple and has recently been converted to a boutique hotel with 8 beautiful double rooms all with en-suite facilities. The rooms are all decorated with such eye to detail, each of them different – feeling very unique and one-of-a-kind.  It was a perfect place to spend our last couple days in Sri Lanka, to unwind, relax and enjoy the spectacular views of nature in all directions. The food here is delicious as well. We didn’t want to leave!


Comments (7)

Leanne Carr
July 7, 2016

Thank you for the suggestions. I will be sure to write them down x

July 7, 2016

Amazing I’ll be sure to bookmark this for any future visit to Sri Lanka!

July 8, 2016

I’m from Holland and we visite Sri Lanka this summer. Thanks you for the tips and sharing photo.

July 10, 2016

So amazing. I love Sri Lanka and it’s a great place for family travel.

Jeanine de Vries
July 13, 2016

Thank you for sharing your experiences. Next year summier we like to visite sri Lanka for our honeymoon with kids. Whats the best way to travel over the is land?

March 24, 2017

leaving for the Sri Lanka next week, going with the kids, 3 and 7 years old. Loved your trip and wanted to try it as well, we have a slightly different itinerary but we are also just staying 10 days.. still.. when we are in Galle, would you recommend us something not to miss out? and is there any place where my older son could learn surfing?
thanks xx

Khanh Tran
March 29, 2017

Hi Delphine,
My company provides booking for villas in Sri Lanka, so we know the destination. You can check out Weligama beach, it’s recommended for beginner surfer as the waves are calm and there are lots of surf centers along the beach for your son to learn surfing 🙂
In Galle, there is the Old Town of Galle, Dutch Reformed Church, Galle Light House, Galle Clock Tower, and the little ones may love Kosgoda Turtle Hatchery. They can learn about turtles there.
I hope you enjoy Sri Lanka!

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