Luxury escapes in Sri Lanka for a mix of nature, culture and comfort

Planning a luxury getaway in Asia? Look past the classic trips to Bali and Phuket and head to enticing Sri Lanka.

When you think of lavish escapes, your mind usually pictures Italy’s alluring Amalfi Coast, the magical waters of the Maldives or Dubai’s impressive all-inclusive resorts. But rising in the ranks is Sri Lanka, a new contender in the realm of luxury hospitality.

The petite nation is well-equipped for those seeking to enjoy its beauty, and as such has no shortage of places to unwind in style. There is an opportunity to escape the heat in the high country’s emerald forests and mesmerising tea fields. Visitors can also discover endless religious sanctuaries, adventure through a safari, or rejuvenate down south beside beaches so inspiring, their scenes will linger in the mind long after a visit. From heritage beauties to modern getaways, we explore the best luxury escapes in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka's most famous hotel


Arguably the country’s most famous hotel, the Galle Face Hotel is an absolute must-visit. Perched right on Colombo’s coastline, with tranquil views out to the Indian Ocean, the hotel is underpinned by aristocracy and class.

Standing since 1864, stepping into the welcoming foyer provides an immediate retreat during the hotter months. Superior suites host plush beds, some with grand terraces and graced with incredible views of the sea.

Venture a little further in and you’ll find the Traveller’s Bar. Appropriately titled, the bar serves nationalities from all over the globe with an impressive selection of whisky and arrack—Sri Lanka’s national spirit made from the fermented sap of coconut flowers. The hotel’s reputation and location have also attracted a fair share of celebrities, politicians and royals, including Prince Philip and Roger Moore.

Galle Face Hotel

Top rated
9.0 Excellent (2404 reviews)

A treehouse luxury escape in Sri Lanka


Set in an opulent, evergreen 100-acre property within Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle, Kalundewa Retreat provides a truly memorable stay. Chalets are likened to luxurious treehouses, framed by floor-to-ceiling windows that beautifully interact with their tranquil outdoor surroundings.

Residences cater to different travellers. Some rooms are tailored to family travel with vast common areas and additional bedrooms, while couples can enjoy a dose of privacy with a dip in their private pool.

The hotel plays host to a variety of experiences, including bird watching, outdoor dining and yoga classes. Kalundewa’s spa makes it a top spot to rejuvenate, boasting sandalwood scrubs and body wraps—particularly good after climbing up the famed rock fortress, Sigiriya.

Kalundewa Retreat

8.9 Excellent (20 reviews)

A wellness retreat in the hills of Kandy


If it’s a wellness resort that your soul yearns for, Santani Wellness Resort & Spa in the hills of Kandy may be the ideal place to go. The concept of the ‘ambalama’ is the resort’s core philosophy, the Sinhalese word for ‘place of rest’.

Santani offers Ayurvedic and yoga programs to visitors, making it a haven for those wanting to relax, learn about Ayurvedic medicine and reward the body at the same time. Each visitor is even given a customised meal plan–a collaborative creation between the hotel’s head chef and an Ayurvedic doctor—tailored to what your body needs.

Santani’s 16 elevated mountain chalets give way to views of Kandy’s enchanting hills. Rooms showcase a minimal design on purpose—sleek and contemporary with polished concrete floors and timber furnishings. Rooms don’t have television or Wi-Fi so visitors can disconnect from the modern world. Wi-Fi is available in some common areas if you really need it.

Santani Wellness Kandy

9.6 Excellent (83 reviews)

A luxury escape to Sri Lanka's southern tip


One of the country’s most celebrated resorts, The Fortress Resort & Spa sits right on the southern tip of Sri Lanka–offering sunsets so stunning they are sure to stay with you long after your stay. An infinity pool, whirlpool baths and rain showers mean there is no excuse not to relax; that’s alongside having the beach within a few metres from the resort.

The rooms themselves fuse modern elegance with colonial charm, all air-conditioned and with their own private balconies. The warm hues of Sri Lanka—oranges, reds and yellows—come into the interior design. Colourful furniture and local artwork liven the rooms, some of which are great for trips of large groups travelling together, others are more romantic with views of the sea.

The Fortress Resort & Spa

Top rated
9.5 Excellent (456 reviews)

A beachside property built out of love


Buckingham Place was born out of traveller Nick Buckingham’s love for Sri Lanka, following a visit in 1998. Buckingham’s beachside property hosts 16 large suites, which are are unashamedly simple in composition and aimed at delivering refined comfort to visitors.

All rooms face the lagoon, with individual terraces encouraging time spent outside. ‘Old fashioned hospitality’ is what the accommodation strives for, with a seaside restaurant and two lavish pools to elevate the experience that little bit more.

Buckingham Place

Top rated
10.0 Excellent (375 reviews)

A vibrant stay in Galle Fort


Right in Galle Fort, Fort Bazaar was built by Portuguese settlers in the 16th-century and restored—reimagined for the modern traveller. The majority of rooms face a central courtyard, whose vibrancy influences the interiors of the rooms themselves. Four-poster beds are set with beautiful Sri Lankan fabrics, as colourful furniture—be it blue, orange or green—fills the design-forward spaces.

Indulge at the hotel’s restaurant, which attracts many diners, both hotel guests and locals alike. From Middle Eastern food to Asian fusion dishes, the menu is designed to cater to a wide range of tastes.

Fort Bazaar

Top rated
9.7 Excellent (109 reviews)

A luxury stay in a 150-year-old mansion


Sri Lankan design and European influences come together at Ulagalla Resort. Built on the site of a 19th-century estate, the resort is a renowned place to stay in Sri Lanka’s northern section.

The 150-year-old mansion and perfectly manicured 58-acre gardens are impressive, but it’s really all about the rooms. Residences exude aristocracy, while respectful of their natural surroundings and ecologically conscious in design.

25 villas make up the resort, some with grand feature decks, some with their own private plunge pools and king-size canopy beds. Floor-to-ceiling windows give way to patterns of rice fields, others to the neighbouring jungle, or the nearby lake.

Ulagalla Resort

Top rated
8.9 Excellent (22 reviews)

A luxury escape in a Sri Lankan country house


If you want to book in a luxury hotel stay near the end of your trip, The Wallawwa might be your perfect option being only a 15-minute drive away from Colombo’s international airport. But don’t mistake it for a typical airport hotel. The cautiously restored 200-year-old country house hotel is situated in gardens just as old, making it a special place to spend a night.

The rooms themselves exude a jungle-like vibe, which is quite charming, luxurious yet not totally refined. Rooms retain a sense of wildness, reliant on natural stone and timbers, tipping a hat to Sri Lanka’s naturally abundant landscapes, honouring the naturally abundant nation that Sri Lanka is itself.

The Wallawwa

Top rated
9.3 Excellent (249 reviews)

Feature image courtesy of MISHA / Fotolia