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Sri Lanka: Best historical hotels

By Faye Bradley 17 November 2020

Header image courtesy of Aman

Sri Lanka has quickly become a hotspot destination for keen travellers. Boasting an abundance of history, the nation has been through its fair share of hardships during its time. Even after achieving independence in 1972, Sri Lanka has managed to preserve much of its past in architecture and monuments. Home to some of the most significant and fascinating hotels in the world, the country welcomes tourists to relive the old days. Here are some of the most fascinating, vintage historical hotels in Sri Lanka to stay in, for a full cultural experience.

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Photo credit: Resplendent Ceylon (via Resplendent Ceylon)

Ceylon Tea Trails, Hatton

Comprising of five restored tea planter residences, or bungalows, Ceylon Tea Trails is perched high up in the clouds at an altitude of 1250 metres in Sri Lanka’s stunning Ceylon tea region. Setting the gold standard for luxury in the nation, this historic hotel is fitted with 27 rooms and suites, with period furnishings, excellent butler service, and five-star cuisine for the discerning traveller. The houses were built in the late 19th century, amidst the lush tea estate (hence the name). Follow the Tea Trail from one bungalow to the next, an experience which takes you trekking and biking within a beautiful backdrop of mountains, lakes, and waterfall—for a truly natural escape. There’s also an indulgent swimming pool and spa for the pampering crowd.

Ceylon Tea Trails - Norwood Bungalow, Norwood Estate Bogawantalawa, Hatton, Sri Lanka | (+94) 517 388 400

Photo credit: Grand Oriental Hotel (via Kayak)

Grand Oriental Hotel Colombo, Colombo

Housed in a colonial-style building in one of Sri Lanka’s capitals, Colombo, Grand Oriental Hotel has around 180 years worth of history. Originally inhabited by the Dutch Governor, it transformed into a barracks for the British army in 1837. Sooner after, Governor Sir Robert Wilmot-Horton converted it into a hotel—within a short time and remarkable cost frame. The iconic building overlooks the busy harbour, gifted with history, and blends comfort with affordability. A fine architecture estate, the hotel reflects the country’s colonial history and features spectacular views of the Colombo Harbour.

Grand Oriental Hotel Colombo, 2 York Street, Colombo 00200, Sri Lanka | (+94) 112 320 320

Photo credit: Amangalla (via Aman)

Amangalla, Galle

Part of the luxury hotel group, Aman, Amangalla is a historic hotel nestled within UNESCO-protected Galle Forte. Amangalla was used as a commanding station by the Dutch in 1684 before the British converted it into accommodation for soldiers in 1796. In 1865, the site became a hotel for tourists from the West. Aman took over in 2005, and restored its boutique charm with an upscale approach, making it one of the most sought-after experiences in the region. There are 30 guest rooms and suites to choose from, and the hotel is celebrated for its unique historic charm, which combines city, coastal, and countryside pursuits.

Amangalla, 10 Church Street, Galle 80000, Sri Lanka | (+94) 912 233 388

Keep scrolling for the rest of the list 👇

By Zinara Rathnayake 19 November 2019
By Manasee Joshi 12 September 2020
Photo credit: Mount Lavinia Hotel (via Mount Lavinia Hotel)

Mount Lavinia Hotel

With over 210 years of history, Mount Lavinia Hotel continues to dedicate five-star service to its guests, with a touch of modern luxury. The hotel blends a legacy of romance and colonial charm in its Colombo location, inspired by the cherished love story of British Governor Thomas Maitland from the 19th century. The Governor wanted to marry his lover, Lovinia, a dancer from a lower class, but there was uproar from the nation due to her young age, and Lovinia ended up throwing herself into the sea. The hotel was named after the star-crossed lovers. There are 210 rooms and suites to choose from, each exuding its own sense of sophistication and charm.

Mount Lavinia Hotel, 100 Hotel Road, Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia, Sri Lanka | (+94) 112 711 711

Photo credit: Queen's Hotel Kandy

Queen's Hotel, Kandy

Situated in the heart of Kandy, Queen’s Hotel is one of the most iconic historic hotels. Surrounded by the stunning Kandy Lake, the hotel has over 160 years of history and features 80 British Colonial-style rooms. It was formerly the Governor’s residence and retains its historical charm. Modern facilities include an outdoor pool, three dining options, and airport shuttle service. Service is impeccable, with staff willing to cater to your every need. The location is conveniently perched near the city centre, making it a quick and easy trip to downtown Kandy.

Queen's Hotel, DS Senanayake Veediya, Kandy 20000, Sri Lanka | (+94) 812 233 026

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Faye Bradley


Faye Bradley is a freelance writer based in Hong Kong, covering topics in travel, wellness, F&B, and the arts. As the editor and business development executive for Cha Siu Papers Times and Compare Retreats, Faye has experience in writing predominantly about luxury travel and well-being. With a keen eye for finding hidden gems, exploring new destinations, and tasting best-of-the-best cuisines, she continues to pursue her love for writing about travel and visiting remote lands. You can find her by the pool with a good book and a mojito in hand.