Hotels in Sri Lanka

First, I'd like to bear my testimony of Booking.com, both the website and the app. It is the best for booking non-traditional rooms - say, ones that can fit a family of five. It lets you put in the ages of the kids and spells out the fine print about extra beds and cribs very clearly. I've never used it in the US, but overseas, it is ALL I use.

We stayed in four different hotels during our time in Sri Lanka. I'll start in Negombo with the best: Holiday Fashion Inn (gotta love the name).






This was more like a B&B, and it was run by the very friendly Magdaleine (pictured above with Magdalena) and her family. When I booked it, I thought I was getting a single room that we'd all squash into, but it turned out to be practically its own apartment - two bedrooms (!!!!), two bathrooms, a living room, and a kitchen. What a welcome sight it was for our first two nights in Sri Lanka. Also, BREAKFAST. This place cost around $80/night, breakfast included.

The next place we stayed was Hotel Heladiv between Anuradhapura and Mihintale.




I almost really loved this place. But it was ever so slightly rough around the edges. It's a fairly new hotel, so I think they'll get the hang of things better soon. There were only four rooms and the hotel is located practically in the middle of the jungle. The room really reflected that - the floor was even with the outside, and there was a skylight and small atrium area with plants and rocks. It had a really calm, natural feel about it. There were pleasant common seating areas outside and a small private patio for the room. This place cost about $50/night for our four-person (+ crib) room, breakfast included.

Elephant Bay Hotel in Pinnawala was the only proper hotel we stayed in on the trip.


It was semi-built (as in, they seem to have never finished it) in maybe the 80s, and hasn't been updated since. But everything worked passably well and the location cannot be beat. You step out on the balcony and see elephants frolicking in the river, with the forest in the background. WIN. There were also nice grassy areas to walk around as we enjoyed the elephants. Cost: 50$/night for our four-person (+crib) room, breakfast included.

The last place we stayed was The Hotel Paradise back in Negombo.



It wasn't my favorite, but I give it an A+ for effort. Again, this was a new place and therefore could use a little polishing. Its main draw for us was that it was near the airport (we had a 6am flight to get to). The staff were so eager to make us happy. Unfortunately, as a new hotel, they haven't straightened out things like electricity supply, so the power was constantly going out and the generator kicking in. There was also this gorgeous bathtub...which wasn't hooked up to the hot water supply. So we roughed it a little more than we wanted to on the last night of our trip, but we got to the airport in good time, so whatever. The cost, however, was the same as Holiday Fashion Inn (for a double bed + crib + bunk bed - huge bonus points for that; the girls loved it). If I could do it again, I would sacrifice proximity to the airport for the spacious quarters and kind attentions (and tasty breakfast) of Magdaleine.

Overall I think we were lucky to escape any real hotel mishaps. You never quite know what you're going to get, so we were happy with how things ended up.

Other stuff we did in Sri Lanka

Why I travel with kids