Anyone who knows me, has read my blog or seen my Instagram will tell you that I loved my holiday to Sri Lanka last year. Any time I have the opportunity to flick through my photos or talk to someone about Sri Lanka I will! The best bit? The compromise that my boyfriend and I were able to find: I wanted luxury, he wanted a tight budget. Well, well, well – we managed to make sure that both of us were satisfied!
We were in this beautiful country for three weeks last August, so I’m going to give you the highlights of our tour and how to do Sri Lanka on a budget, and still manage to get your fair share of luxury!
First up, we flew into Colombo, and stayed in Negombo – a little village with a beautiful stretch of beach and a few very luxe hotels. As a birthday treat for Andy, as he had been travelling Africa for 6 months and hadn’t seen a good hotel for all of them, I booked us into Jetwing Beach. As I’m a SLH Club member we received an upgrade to a suite – which was stunning. Cue two days of lying by the pool, on the beach and feasting on glorious hotel food!
If you’re in Sri Lanka and looking for luxury Jetwing Hotels are a brand you’re going to want to get to know – they have quite a few hotels in the country and from what I’ve seen they really are fantastic.
From Negombo we travelled to Kandy, to see the famous Esala Perehara and the Temple of the Tooth. Honestly, there wasn’t much luxury around as it was high season so we were content with a little guest house and pavement side seats for one of the most beautiful shows I’ve ever seen. Sometimes the luxuries of travelling aren’t in the poshest hotels, but in being able to see such incredible, beautiful sights.
Having done one bus journey (I compromised, but this was one compromise I regretted), we took a car from Kandy up to Anuradaphura, part of the cultural triangle, to cycle round some of the temples and see the sights. A real must visit for any visit to Sri Lanka!
Now here’s one journey we had to take proper transport for: Anuradaphura down to Nuwara Eliya, cause it’s a big drive! Hiring private cars in Sri Lanka isn’t all that costly, and is very worth the expense or you might just find yourself on a very hot bus for a very long time. If you do one thing in the hill country, make sure you take the train from Nuwara Eliya to Ella. Book tickets in the tourist coach (aka the luxury coach) and you’ll be whisked along some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen. Those vistas are unparalleled.
Ella is spoilt, both in terms of its natural landscape and for being surrounded with great guest houses. But trust me, no matter where you’re staying in this incredible part of the hill country, you won’t be spending long in your accommodation. The luxury in Ella is this incredible vista, and the wonderful views you’ll see from Ella rock. On a clear day you can see aaaaallll the way to the south coast of Sri Lanka.
Possibly one of my favourite parts of this trip came straight after Ella – a trip to Udawalawe National Park. For Andy, I’m sure it had become commonplace to see the big 5 after his travels in Africa, but for me this really was amazing. To see elephants in the wild was fantastic – I was so, so happy. Luxury I hear you ask? No need to skimp on luxury around here, oh no. Have a look at hotels like Grand Udawalawe Safari Resort and you’ll have all the pools, nice rooms and, importantly, air conditioning that you need.
Now, the real centre of luxury in Sri Lanka is Galle, the old Dutch Fort. There are more luxury hotels than you can shake a stick at and each and every one of them is as beautiful and luxurious as they sound. I did my fair share of research before we went, and again, bearing in mind the compromise – we didn’t stay at the top hotel, but stayed in the gorgeous Deco on 44. Top tip – they serve a seriously good gin and tonic here!
But hey, I couldn’t miss the hotel could I? Didn’t think so! So we went to Amangalla for afternoon tea one day, and for cocktails the next. It really is a beautiful old hotel and the afternoon tea was delicious. You can take the girl out of England but she’ll always find a good tea! The service was impeccable – ahh I wish I could go back!
Our trip was coming to an end far too soon – we only had one stop left and that was Tangalle, a beautiful, secluded beach town where we hid away for our last 5 days. Lounging on the beach, drinking lots of delicious cocktails and swimming in the bluest ocean I’ve ever seen. Now that is real luxury.
For what we did, the number of places we went and the gorgeous hotels we stayed in, Sri Lanka is one of the best value for money luxury holidays I’ve ever taken. I’ve been recommending the country to anyone and everyone who will listen – and I hope that just a few of you take me up on this and visit! If you love Sri Lanka then you would also love Kerala in India which offers a similar incredible experience. If you’re considering visiting Kerala make sure you check out some Kerala tour packages to help you plan your trip!
Thanks so much Simone and Dan for letting me guest post! For more travel, lifestyle and London living, you can find me, Lauren, at The Lifestyle Diaries.