Beachfront Beauties and Mountainside Retreats: The Best Spa Hotels in Sri Lanka

Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle Resort

by Emma Boyle, The Telegraph, November 25, 2019

Sri Lanka promises some of Asia’s best spa action, and many of the treatments offered at the following hotels have been modelled on Ayurvedic principles, one of the world's oldest holistic healing systems that believes in good health through lifestyle practices. From the south coast beaches to the blissfully quiet mountainsides of the Hill Country, spas across the idland come in all shapes and sizes, and treatments include wraps, scrubs, massages and tailored programmes administered over a number of days as prescribed by an on-site Ayurvedic doctor. Yoga classes, thermal pools and steam baths, some overshadowed by hanging creepers, others in the breeze of the ocean are also common here. For a soothing stay, here's our pick of the best spa hotels in Sri Lanka.

Santani

9Telegraph expert rating

This heavenly wellness resort with atmospheric spa facilities in calm, hilly surroundings near Kandy focuses on nurturing guests: switch off, practice yoga, go for a trek and dine on nutritionally balanced meals. The three-tiered spa spills down a hillside and the therapists – some Ayurvedic practitioners from Kerala – are warm and caring. The resort’s packages look at lifestyle, stress, diet and medical ailments, though individual treatments can be chosen from an international spa menu too.

From £232per night

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• The best hotels in Sri Lanka

Cape Weligama

9Telegraph expert rating

An elevated headland with fine ocean views sets the scene for this enigmatic resort set in 12 acres of meticulously landscaped gardens brimming with exotic jewel-hued flowers and trees. Many of the rooms are vast freestanding villas clustered in twos or threes in separate walled gardens with emerald lawns and 15-metre swimming pools. There's a spa villa offering an extensive range of treatments and a watersports centre offering cycling trips, surfing, whale watching and diving.

From £268per night

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The Wallawwa

9Telegraph expert rating

Although located a 15-minute hop from Colombo Airport, this historic manor house-turned-18-room boutique hotel feels as far removed from an airport hotel as you can possibly get – the impeccable 200-year-old gardens, home to vivid birdlife, mature trees and luscious plants add to the tranquility. There's a serene spa with flexible opening hours so you could indulge in a treatment after dinner if sufficient notice is given. The gardens secret many spots for relaxing post-flight, and the setting of the pool feels more like a rainforest than a garden.

From £240per night

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• Sri Lanka's best beach hotels

Soul & Surf

8Telegraph expert rating

'Bolthole' may well be one of the most overused words in travel writing, but this secluded yoga retreat, positioned just 10 minutes from the Indian Ocean, certainly deserves the mantle. The rendered concrete finish creates a smooth and silky feel under bare feet, while emerald lawns glisten with humid dew. The yoga studio stretches out across the first floor, providing views of the forest canopy. Butterflies often flap in during classes, while monkeys maraud between nearby branches – it’s not hard to drift off into your very own chilled out world.

From £820per night

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The Fortress Resort & Spa

8Telegraph expert rating

One of the south coast's best resort-style boutique hotels, The Fortress, has an incredible position on a long stretch of sandy Indian Ocean beachfront near Koggala. The fibre-optic-lit pool is one of the best in Sri Lanka and incorporates a toddler-friendly 'beach' wading area, a kids' pool and a lower, shadier section parallel to the restaurant with bubbly jets. The spa has four treatment rooms, a sauna and a steam room carved out of the thick outer wall, and there's also a 24-hour gym.

From £102per night

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• The best boutique hotels in Sri Lanka

Water Garden Sigiriya Hotel

8Telegraph expert rating

As its name suggests, the design of the hotel is based around landscaped water gardens, in a nod towards the ancient water gardens of Sigiriya. Paddy fields and mature trees surround the hotel’s substantial grounds, and the area buzzes with wildlife while remaining blissfully peaceful. Accommodation is in extremely spacious air conditioned chalets, set either astride or beside landscaped interlinked ponds, which are still a good few years away from reaching maturity. The hotel has a spa, a fitness centre and a large swimming pool (plus an adjacent children's pool) overlooking the water gardens and distant Sigiriya.

From £213per night

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• The best hotels in Colombo

Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle Resort

8Telegraph expert rating

This is an attractive, highly styled resort. Its three-storey buildings and pavilions are spread over a large area with the bulk of the rooms and restaurants surrounding a split-level swimming pool. The facilities are first-class – a split-level swimming pool, a sizeable spa (with resident Ayurvedic doctor) and a fitness centre. There’s also a good kids’ club. While the immediate area isn’t particularly noteworthy as a surfing destination, lessons are offered by Tropic Surf. Most rooms are sea facing, with those on the ground floor opening directly onto the garden.

From £152per night

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• The best hotels in Galle

Amangalla

8Telegraph expert rating

Grand dame Amangalla offers classically beautiful rooms and suites with butler service in a 300-year-old sensitively converted building in the heart of Galle Fort. The spa is dreamy – off a gently rising cloistered corridor lie treatment rooms for luxe spa treatments or more targeted Ayurveda packages, and there's a resident Ayurvedic Doctor for consultations too. Also here are The Baths – therapeutic rooms with whirlpool baths, steam rooms and cold plunge pools. Rooms are understated yet classically elegant with period furnishings.

From £424per night

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• The best Indian Ocean hotels

Ulagalla

9Telegraph expert rating

A century-old pillared manor house – once the most important noble seat of the region – is at the heart of the hotel and infuses it with a sense of history. It also has a strong ecological focus – the 20 freestanding chalets are built from local materials to harmonise with their surroundings. A big pool is flanked by well-spaced sun loungers, and next to it, a gym and a spa. There is also a set of riding stables (and some lovely hacks to be had in the surrounding area). Chalets are extremely comfortable and comprise a sleeping area with four-poster king-sized bed, an en-suite bathroom with shower and a separate lounge.

From £124per night

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• The best coastal retreats in Sri Lanka

Weligama Bay Marriott Resort & Spa

8Telegraph expert rating

The hotel stands out like a sore thumb, being 10 floors higher than most other buildings in the area. However, once inside, the hotel reveals smart, modern and extremely well ordered interiors with an open lobby flanked by restaurants and bars. On the mezzanine floor is an indulgent spa with five sumptuous treatment rooms (and heavenly Ophir-based treatments) and a fitness centre. The freeform pool has little islands of temple flowers and sunken loungers, and staff proffer chilled water to keep you cool. Thanks to the floor-to-ceiling glass panels, rooms are light and nicely spacious, and all have direct sea views.

From £115per night

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This article was written by Emma Boyle from The Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to [email protected].

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