With the FCO warning over travelling to Sri Lanka downgraded, the country’s tourism industry is getting back on track – with some incredible last-minute offers available, and a waiving of holiday visa fees until January 31 2020 in a bid to encourage visitors. Lower costs can enable longer trips, exploring the island’s varied elements – tea estates, beaches, wildlife reserves, cultural sites and palm-fringed villages – and with fewer visitors circulating, prime tourist sites such as Yala National Park and Sigiriya can be enjoyed relatively crowd free. Here are 10 of the best places to stay for a steal.
Why House, Galle
With rates at nearly 50 per cent less than usual, a stay at this quintessential 10-room country house in the tropics is too good to miss. Guests are welcomed like old friends, and the manicured tropical gardens (paraded by resident dachshund Jelly), vast T-shaped pool, and spacious rooms housed in individually styled villas and pavilions, create an inclusive environment that suits honeymooners, solo travellers and families alike. Service and food are consistently on point, and free tuk tuks whizz you to Dalawella’s swimming beach – where a growing flotilla of turtles hovers offshore – in a matter of minutes. For Autumn bookings, the hotel is also including free daily tuk tuks to local sights (31 miles/50km limit).
Rates from $275 (£227) including free daily tuk tuks, until December 15 2019
Read the full review: Why House
Rosyth Estate House, Kegalle
Rosyth, a traditional estate house turned boutique hotel in the tea and rubber-swathed hills of Kegalle is offering 30 per cent off stays until mid-December 2019. Its mountainous, pindrop-peaceful setting is within an hour’s drive of Kandy, a busy city brimming with culture in the Mid Hills that is also home to Sri Lanka’s most prominent Buddhist site, the Temple of the Tooth, as well as various devales, botanical gardens and a tea museum. Local activities include hilly rambles and tea factory tours plus treasure hunts through the hotel’s wooded gardens. The rooms are unique and charming, and local food is superb.
Up to 30 per cent off stays until December 15 2019
Read the full review: Rosyth Estate House
Living Heritage Koslanda, Koslanda
Stays currently cost 25 per cent less at this blissful 80-acre sanctuary in Sri Lanka’s south easterly hills. Great care was taken to construct the hotel using traditional methods, materials and masters, and its eight stylish rooms – which include vast, family-friendly Villa Suites with traditional courtyards, and semi-open, couples-oriented Forest Pavilions, which peep out from a forested hillside – attract those looking for a unique, boutique stay amid nature. Within the extensive grounds, where elephants, monkeys and peacocks roam, lies a secluded hilltop swimming pool, while forested trails lead to a secret waterfall for wild swims.
25 per cent off all room categories for stays until December 15 2019
Read the full review: Living Heritage Koslanda
Anantara Peace Haven, Tangalle
This top-class resort, complete with its own beach, headland and mangrove-edged stream, occupies an enviable stretch of oceanfront on the south coast of Tangalle. Rooms are impeccably presented, and all ocean-facing with views of the rolling lawns shaded by coconut palms and a vast split-level swimming pool. The seasonal beach is a vital turtle nesting ground and you can spot them swimming in the shallows just offshore. Anantara’s dining options are first-rate and include Italian restaurant Il Mare and private dining in a treehouse high above the resort’s organic paddy field and kitchen garden. It also has an extensive spa.
Three nights for the price of two. Valid for stays until December 23 2019
Read the full review: Anantara Peace Haven
Pause a little longer in Sri Lanka’s cooler Hill Country at this fine heritage bungalow. Immersed within the Pitaratmalie Estate, Thotalagala is an impeccably restored 19th-century tea planter’s bungalow with seven indulgent suites perched on an escarpment, 4,757ft above the distant southern plains. Its infinity pool, surrounded by mature gardens, takes full advantage of the gasp-inducing views, and al fresco dining is a must. Rates include meals, drinks and local experiences such as hosted tours of the Dambatenne Tea Factory, on Sir Thomas Lipton’s former estate, and hikes up to lookout points, Lipton’s Seat and Draper’s Roost.
Three nights for the price of two. Valid for stays until December 15 2019
Read the full review: Thotalagala
Sri Sharavi Villas & Spa, Mirissa
This collection of four impeccably presented three-bedroom beach villas, which share a long saltwater swimming pool, are brilliant for families. Each villa has open-plan living and dining areas, a pantry and butler service, so whether you occupy one room of a villa or take a whole one for yourselves, your stay is easily tailored to your liking. At each end of the pool are integrated toddler-friendly paddling areas. Sea swimming is best from November to April. Facilities include a spa, boutique and basement snug with a television. Buzzy Mirissa, for dining out, surfing and whale-watching departures (best from November onwards) is just a five-minute drive away.
25 per cent off stays until December 19 2019 (book by September 30 2019)
Read the full review: Sri Sharavi Villas & Spa
Jetwing Vil Uyana, Sigiriya
From now until early October, wild elephants converge on the receding banks of the vast reservoir within Minneriya National Park in an event thought to be the largest gathering of Asian elephants in the world. See them on safari with Jetwing Vil Uyana, a wildlife-focused hotel with 36 freestanding dwellings, some with pools, sitting within distinct habitats – water, forest, garden, paddy and marsh. Discounts of up to 45 per cent encourage longer stints in the Cultural Triangle, visiting quiet island standouts such as the 37ft-high Aukana Buddha, Sigiriya’s rock fortress, and Dambulla’s cave temples.
Chena Huts, Yala National Park
A crowd-free Yala National Park offers many advantages, not least the chance to sit tight and observe a leopard, or perhaps a scrubby sloth bear, entirely to yourself. Chena Huts offers one game drive per day for those staying at their boutique lodge on the wild rugged Palatupana coastline, less than 10-minutes’ drive from Yala’s main entrance. The vast domed cabins, accessed via raised walkways through thick scrub, are a contemporary ode to safari style, and come with everything you need, and more, including plunge pools. The atmosphere is intimate and personal, the food is a standout and there’s also a super jungle-fringed pool.
All-inclusive rates from $600/£495 (saving of approximately 40 per cent) until December 19 2019
Read the full review: Chena Huts
Taru Villas The Longhouse, Bentota
This, the newest of Taru Villas’ trio of boutique hotels set back from Bentota’s southern strands, is an indulgent choice for a west-coast beach stay, located in a long building occupying a narrow strip of land. The rooms are impeccably appointed, and have well-furnished sit-out areas for sundowners, high tea or dates with a good read. The food is consistently good, and the Asian fusion menu translates into sophisticated, modern dining. Service is extremely attentive, and butlers can book watersports, and local trips such as to Lunuganga and Brief, the magical former homes and gardens of Geoffrey and Bevis Bawa.
Seven nights for the price of five. Valid until December 15 2019
Read the full review: Taru Villas The Longhouse
Kahanda Kanda, Koggala Lake
Kahanda Kanda, an iconic boutique hotel with 10 chic suites near Lake Koggala, has reduced its rates by nearly half for stays until Christmas 2019. Located on a 12-acre private hilltop tea estate, the hotel’s tropically styled suites and plantation villas, some secreted amid walled gardens and others with far-reaching estate and lake views, are blissfully private. Five villas have private pools, and many guests – couples predominantly, as children under 12 aren’t allowed – tend to only surface for dips in the vast swimming pool, at mealtimes and for spa treatments. Free tuk tuks whizz guests to sister hotel, KK Beach.
B&b rates from $157/£129 (a saving of approximately 50 per cent) until December 20 2019
Read the full review: Kahanda Kanda