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Best Hotels in the Cultural Triangle and Galle

Sri Lanka is said to have entranced Marco Polo, and its beauty is undiminished, but it’s been under the cloud of civil war for the past and is only now showing its light as a wonderful holiday destination. The Cultural Triangle is one of the island’s most magical regions, so you’ll definitely need to book into one of the best hotels in the Cultural Triangle for at least some of your Sri Lankan stay!

Our Guru’s list of the best hotels in the Cultural Triangle opens up the fascinating sights of this region in the hilly centre of the country, which can be happily combined with lotus eating along the coast - where tourism has always thrived, thereby offering the best of two worlds.

Travel by car (with a driver) is not expensive and train journeys are a delight. The beaches are magnificent and the choice of hotels throughout the country is ever increasing. The best hotels in the Cultural Triangle at the top end of the price scale are the island’s healthy crop of small, individual boutique hotels, often with fewer than twenty rooms, and at the cheaper end, the best hotels in the Cultural Triangle are the restored guest houses which trade, with good reason, on the charm of their colonial past. The perfect time to visit is between January and April.

The Best Hotels in the Cultural Triangle

Best Hotels in the Cultural Triangle to Escape

Vil Uyana in Sigiriya is a complex of 25 luxurious, thatched cabanas which sit on stilts, hovering over a lake popular with birdwatchers. Lake Lodge in Dambulla, is a lovely lakeside, 12 room B&B with simple, airy rooms, panoramic views of the hills.

Best Hotels in the Cultural Triangle for Nature Lovers

St Bridget’s Guest House in Kandy is a delightful guesthouse with lovely spice and fruit gardens, offering 10 simple rooms and fantastic home cooking.

Best Hotels in the Cultural Triangle for Families

The Kelburne Cottages are a collection of tea planter’s houses on a spectacular bluff overlooking the plains, and offer great options for families and groups, as well as incredible views. Or for a romantic, but still family-friendly option, consider The Sun House in Galle, a charmingly restored merchant’s house with seven exquisite bedrooms and suites decorated all in white, excellent communal dining and spectacular, frangipani-scented gardens.

Best Hotels in the Cultural Triangle to Relax

The Polonnaruwa Rest House, near the sites of Polonnaruwa, is a wonderful colonial bungalow with 40 large bedrooms, incredible lake views and a great restaurant, or you might try the Maya Old House, a restored villa on an elegant estate turned into a beautiful, colonial era retreat, surrounded by paddy fields.

Best Hotels in the Cultural Triangle for Great Value

Giritale is a well placed lakeside hotel in Giritale, near the sites of Polonnaruwa, with lush gardens and an ayurvedic centre, starting from around £60 per night.

Best Hotels in the Cultural Triangle for Romance

Buckingham Place is a newly built, 12 room hotel by the side of a lovely lagoon and close to the beach in Tangalle, or in Galle itself you might try The Dutch House, an elegant 18th Century mansion overlooking the city, but peacefully positioned on its own hilltop.

Best Hotels in the Cultural Triangle for Something Special

Helga’s Folly in Kandy is a kind of Basil Fawlty meats Kubla Khan experience, a decadent red, 1930s home surrounded by jungle, offering 40 rooms with eccentric details.

Best Hotels in the Cultural Triangle for Luxury

Amanwella is a luxurious, 30 room resort overlooking a wonderful beach beside a coconut grove, with fantastic facilities and absolute relaxation and seclusion.

If you haven’t found your idea of the perfect place to stay in Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle on our list of the best hotels in the Cultural Triangle, you could:

The Best Hotels in the Cultural Triangle

  • Helga’s Folly 16 rooms from £129


    Basil Fawlty meets Kubla Khan in Helga Blow’s decadent chic home. A red 1930s building surrounded by jungle. Dark muralled rooms full of historical paintings, photographs and antiques. Home cooked food and a well stocked bar. A truly eccentric stay that should be on everyone's 'to visit' list.

    Writing a novel  -  Quirky and fascinating- every inch is covered in paintings, frescoes, sculptures etc reflecting the hotels artistic life.
    Sights nearby  -  Visit Sri Lanka's most important Buddhist relic the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic.
    Great walks  -  Wake up early and take a leisurely stroll aound Kandy Lake.
    Swimming Pool  -  Lovely Outdoor Pool
    Check prices
  • Vil Uyana 30 rooms from £226

    Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

    Luxury thatched cabanas set on stilts over a man made lake filled with nature. Huge rooms, large windows and decks overlooking the wetlands - perfect for birdwatching. Peaceful library, large infinity pool, and spa. A unique retreat in natural surroundings.

    Back to Nature  -  Independent water huts on stilts over a man made lake in the wetland wildlife reserve.
    Birdwatching  -  This region is known as a haven for bird watchers with over 120 recorded species visable from your porch!
    Sights nearby  -  The resort lies under the shadow of the World Heritage Site of Sigiriya or "Lion Mountain".
    Great walks  -  Explore the reed beds and paddy fields of this man made wetland reserve.
    Recommended by  -  Kiwi Collection, Small Luxury Hotels
    Check prices
  • Giritale Hotel 42 rooms from £46

    Giritale, Sri Lanka

    Well placed lakeside hotel near the sites of Polonnaruwa. Rooms are simple yet very comfortable with breathtaking vistas - which can also be enjoyed from the terrace and the swimming pool. Luxuriant gardens and an Ayurvedic centre. A secluded spot to relax in and explore the wildlife in the area.

    Value chic  -  Comfortable rooms with stunning views, large pool and an Ayurvedic spa all at a steal of a price
    Hideaway  -  Surrounded by nature and with epic views, step into a private world of calm and tranquility.
    Great walks  -  Explore the Ancient City of Polanaruwa, overlooking the lovely Giritale Lake.
    Birdwatching  -  A fantastic area for bird watching, guides can be organised from the hotel.
    Check prices
  • The Lake House Polonnaruwa 14 rooms from £73

    Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka

    Formerly known as Polonnaruwa Rest House this colonial bungalow has undergone much modernisation since the Queen stayed here in 1954. Overlooking Giritale lake bedrooms and dining areas boast marvellous views. Delicious Sri Lankan dishes are served. A great spot to explore historic Polonnaruwa.

    Back to Nature  -  Overlooking the serene Giritale Lake it is immersed in nature
    Kayaking  -  Take a kayak out on the Giritale Lake
    Sights nearby  -  The ancient city of Polonnaruwa
    Views  -  Great views from hotel
    Check prices
  • Kelburne Cottages 3 rooms

    Haputale, Sri Lanka

    Teaplanters’ houses spectacularly sited on a 2,500ft bluff above the plains. Fantastic views from the tea terraces over the plains and blue hills. Traditional interiors with large glass windows. Dine in your villa or make your way to the hotel restaurant. A great choice for families or groups.

    Families  -  The individual cottages have two to three rooms - perfect for families or groups exploring the area.
    Sights nearby  -  For a fascinating day trip pack up a lunch and visit the pilgrimage site of Kataragama.
    Local markets  -  Walk to Haputalé town and wander round the local markets.
    Great walks  -  Explore the tea gardens rolling over the surrouding hills.
    Check prices
  • Maya Old House 5 rooms from £173

    Beliatta, Near Tangalle

    Restored villa with a central courtyard in its own elegant estate filled with flora and fauna. A retreat for nature lovers, families, or romantics. Contemporary rooms with colonial influences, beautiful verandahs, and surrounding paddy fields. Excellent home cooked food. A lovely relaxing retreat.

    Sights nearby  -  Visit the Buddhist Temple and Mulgirigala Rock Temple both just 15 minutes from the hotel.
    Cooking classes  -  Learn to cook Sri Lankan style with the hotel chef.
    Swimming Pool  -  Outdoor Pool
    Sailing  -  Can be booked nearby.
    Recommended by  -  I Escape, Tablet, Mr & Mrs Smith
    Check prices
  • Lake Lodge Boutique Hotel 12 rooms from £147

    Dambulla, Sri Lanka

    A charming B&B well placed for sightseeing in the Cultural Triangle, overlooking a Kandalama Lake. Simple airy rooms with large balconies and panoramic views of the hills, a swimming pool and leafy terrace. A great spot for enjoying Sri Lanka's abundant wildlife.

    Total relaxation  -  Indulge in spa treatments and yummy cuisine in this tranquil haven overlooking the Kandalama reservoir.
    Birdwatching  -  Make the most of the fantastic location and head off on birdwatching tours, arranged from the hotel.
    Sailing  -  Take a romantic boat ride across the picturesque Kandalama Lake.
    Swimming Pool  -  Lovely Outdoor Pool
    Check prices
  • Buckingham Place 15 rooms from £227

    Tangalle (Nettolpitiya)

    A newly built and cleverly designed hotel, in spacious grounds brimming with exotic plants. Minimalist guest lodges with stunning views, excellent food and friendly service. A tranquil escape yet close to the beach - a great spot for nature lovers and couples.

    Romantic Break  -  A place of tranquility and privacy with gorgeous airy rooms overlooking the surrounding nature.
    Back to Nature  -  An abundance of biodiversity with architecture designed to merge living and nature.
    Sights nearby  -  Visit the magnificent Mulkirigala Rock Temples in Tangalle.
    Sailing  -  Spot sperm whales and dolphins on a boat trip.
    Check prices
  • St Bridget’s Guest House 10 rooms

    Kandy, NOT TO SHOW

    Unpretentious but delightful guesthouse with a lovely garden. Fantastic home cooking, simple rooms with balconies for birdwatching, and a lovely spice and fruit garden. A charming spot for nature lovers.

    Birdwatching  -  Good birding near the hotel.
    Back to Nature
    Check prices
  • Amanwella 30 rooms from £480


    Top end luxury and serene zen spaces on the edge of a coconut grove overlooking a wonderful beach. Sparing contemporary-chic design and fantastic facilities in this natural location. Sumptious cuisine enjoyed with a lovely sea view. A contemporary beach haven.

    Beach Life  -  Sitting on a beautiful private 800m crescent beach- enjoy turtle watching, 'fresh-off-the boat' seafood and golden sands.
    Back to Nature  -  Submerge yourself in the lush green environment and observe sea turtles, monkys, birds, lizards and mongooses.
    Cooking classes  -  Accompany the hotel's chefs to the early morning fish and spice market, and learn to cook your favourite curry.
    Sailing  -  Take a trip on a restored Indonesian fishing boats out to sea to try your luck at whale watching.
    Recommended by  -  I Escape, Kiwi Collection, Mr & Mrs Smith, Tablet
    Check prices
  • The Dutch House 3 rooms from £424


    A peaceful 18th century mansion overlooking Galle. Elegant interiors decorated in rich ochres, antiques, and contemporary art with lovely gardens to unwind in. The adjoining hotel has the best restaurant in Galle. A tranquil and romantic base to explore Galle and its surrounding areas.

    Hideaway  -  A chic boutique hotel with just four elegant and airy suites, in lush gardens filled with coconut trees and sun loungers.
    Great walks  -  Take a walking tour of the historic Galle Fort, especially a sunset stroll along the walls.
    Local markets  -  Visit the nearby villages and pick up some local delights in their markets.
    Diving  -  Head up further north for scuba diving at Unawatuna.
    Recommended by  -  I Escape
    Check prices
  • The Sun House 9 rooms from £192


    This charmingly restored merchant's house has great hillside views. Exquisite bedrooms and suites in all-white-ethereality are the piece de resistance for any romantic. An intimate atmosphere with communal dining and lovely gardens. A hip hotel, with many accolades, ideal for completely unwinding.

    Romantic Break  -  Relax and unwind with your loved one in this idyllic property.
    Sights nearby  -  The Kataluwa Buddhist temple is hidden away in the jungle outside Galle.
    Great walks  -  Take a walking tour through Galle Fort.
    Swimming Pool  -  Outdoor garden pool
    Recommended by  -  I Escape
    Check prices


Written by Lincoln Seligman

posted Monday, 28th March 2011
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