Nuwara Eliya

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About Nuwara Eliya

Ensconced in the cool climate of Sri Lanka’s verdant central highlands, Nuwara Eliya grew famous as a colonial hill country retreat — and as the heart of the island’s tea industry. It is now an idyllic sanctuary for tea and nature lovers to relax and unwind. A whole host of accommodation options cater to a wide range of budgets, from little guesthouses to grand historic hotels. Whether you’re eager to kick back in a converted factory, dine in splendour at a classic country club or take high tea on manicured lawns, our pick of the best places to stay in Nuwara Eliya has got you covered.

Founded as an agricultural settlement in 1846, Nuwara Eliya became popular with British planters and civil servants. With colonial-era edifices, rose gardens and European crops (including leeks and strawberries!), the town retains a quirky nostalgic charm – it’s no coincidence that locals frequently refer to it as ‘Little England’.

Visit a tea factory to stock up on some of the world’s best orange pekoe, enjoy a round of golf on one of the oldest courses in Asia, and explore nearby Horton Plains National Park, where purple-faced langurs, sambar and leopards roam.

All the best places to stay in Nuwara Eliya are heritage properties — including restored members’ clubs and a striking hillside factory. With the exception of the latter, which is nestled amidst undulating tea-clad hills, our favourite hotels sit within the town itself, perfect for discovering the very heart of historic Nuwara Eliya.

The best places to stay in Nuwara Eliya

For colonial grandeur

  • The Grand Hotel is a luxurious colonial property with a family feel. Originally built as Barnes Hall, the holiday residence of the fifth Governor of Ceylon, this historic building has been transformed into a beautiful base from which to explore Nuwara Eliya. From cycling tours to the heated indoor pool, there’s plenty to keep the whole family entertained!
  • Jetwing St Andrews is a charmingly restored Georgian-style mansion. Bright, well-appointed rooms are smart and soothing, with crisp white sheets and pastel accents. Part of one of Sri Lanka’s most reputable family-owned hotel groups, the property prides itself on its excellent service. Choose this spot for long evenings warmed by log fires with cracking cocktails in hand.
  • The Hill Club offers a wonderful escape to a bygone era, once frequented largely by English and Scottish tea, coffee and cinchona planters. Think cosy guest rooms furnished with antique wooden pieces, reading and billiard rooms, and superb clay tennis courts. This remains a members’ club, as well as a hotel, so guests are expected to dress for dinner in the Mixed Bar or Main Dining Room. One for those seeking a smart, old-fashioned atmosphere.

For tea addicts

  • Heritance Tea Factory is set amidst lush hills, boasting striking scenery on all sides. This clever, characterful conversion includes elegant, contemporary rooms, a fitness centre and a spa. Don’t miss the terrific high tea — this is one for those eager to combine soothing seclusion with the promise of a good brew!

For an apartment or villa

  • If you’d prefer to stay in an apartment or private villa we recommend that you visit our online partner booking.com.

Travel Information

  • Nuwara Eliya is five hours’ drive from Bandaranaike International Airport, and most hotels will be happy to arrange an airport pickup. The roads twist and turn so it’s worth having a reliable driver who knows the route well.
  • The most beautiful route to Nuwara Eliya (at nearby Nanu Oya Station) is by train from Kandy — tickets are cheap and the rickety train travels slowly through a picturesque landscape of rolling tea-clad hills. Times vary but the journey generally takes 3 - 4 hours.
  • The monsoon rains are expected between May and October, whilst the town grows especially busy during Sri Lankan New Year in April. Many hotels offer great low season rates — bear in mind that places book up quickly during the high season!

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Best Hotels in Nuwara Eliya

  • Jetwing St Andrew's Nuwara Eliya 56 rooms from £121

    Back to Nature  -  Up in Sri Lanka's hill country, close to nature reserves - no need for AC here
    Romantic Break  -  Four poster beds and classic accommodation - it is a charmingly romantic stay
    Great walks  -  Through the Hakgala Botanical Gardens
    Full of character

    Classic colonial accommodation in the heart of Sri Lankan hill country. Rooms are traditional in style with plenty of dark woods and red and green palettes - feels quite festive! Add to this open fires, a well stocked wine cellar and a billiards room and you're transported into another era. See More

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  • The Hill Club Nuwara Eliya 39 rooms from £135

    Country Escape  -  A colonial style country house situated in a picturesque hillstation.
    Great walks  -  Explore the surrounding countryside on long walks.
    Secluded setting  -  For escaping.
    Views  -  Great views from hotel

    Originally the base for plantation workers, now a charming colonial style hotel sitting above the quaint town of Nuwara Eliya. Step inside and it is as if time has stood still with chintz fabrics, antique furniture, wooden floors and open fireplaces. The perfect place to discover rural Sri Lanka. See More

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  • Heritance Tea Factory Nuwara Eliya 152 rooms from £136

    Foodies  -  The famous 'Dining on Wheels' experience is a real treat. Great for tea lovers too!
    Total relaxation  -  Tucked away in Sri Lanka's tea country this is a luxurious little retreat
    Spa breaks  -  Wellness enthusiasts will love the Misty Mountain Spa
    Great walks  -  Through the tea plantations or Hakgala Botanical Gardens

    A converted British tea factory this 1930s property oozes colonial charm. Classic rooms enjoy exposed beams and sweeping valley views. Enjoy a unique culinary experience at Dining on Wheels and get to work in the tea plantations. In addition there is the Misty Mountain Spa and on site activities. See More

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  • The Grand Hotel, Nuwara Eliya Nuwara Eliya 154 rooms from £143

    Families  -  An iconic family stay with plenty of on site activities
    Views  -  Great views from hotel
    Traditional
    Romantic  -  Good for couples.

    The mock Tudor facade tells a tale of an historic and iconic stay. Retaining the feel of an English country club with its manicured lawns, crackling fires and much used billiards room. Barnes Hall serves continental dishes whilst The Grand Indian specialises in regional. Rather good in our book. See More

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  • Jetwing Warwick Gardens Nuwara Eliya 5 rooms from £224

    Total relaxation  -  High amidst the Nuwara Eliya hills with pretty gardens and no internet access - a complete escape!
    Romantic Break  -  Children are not permitted so this is an adults' only getaway
    Sights nearby  -  Hakgala Botanical Gardens are just a 30 minute drive away and a must visit
    Restrictions on children  -  Children are not permitted at this hotel

    The former home of a Scottish tea planter this colonial bungalow provides elegant adults only accommodation. Rooms feature four posters and period bathrooms with roll-top baths. Dinner in the formal dining room is a grand occasion plus there are also relaxed al fresco options. No internet access! See More

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