Sri Lanka and Weligama has been on my wish list ever since I went to a talk about Weligama and did some research for my Forbes article about the area. Today’s reader article, Take a chance on Sri Lanka, is by Bernadette Seymour, who is an avid reader of TLFL reader reviews.
Take a chance on Sri Lanka
I had initially booked our trip to Sri Lanka in January 2020, but then a cancer operation deferred that trip and then covid another trip.
So it was with great anticipation that my first revenge travel was to Sri Lanka this Autumn.
We flew Qatar from Manchester on the A380, I know there have been a lot of reviews, so I will skip and give you some details on great luxury 5* hotel stays down the South Coast of Sri Lanka.
You could also fly Sri Lankan who are also a oneworld member – Review Of Sri Lanka Airlines Airbus A330 Business Class & Tier Points.
Colombo – Shangri La Hotel
Arriving in the bustling city of Colombo felt like India Lite meets New York! Bustling tuk tuks, burning incense smouldering from temples, benzine mixed with the Indian spice of food trucks lingered into the balmy evenings, a bombastic blast of East meets West on your senses.
Staying at the 5* Shangri La is a wonderful experience with beautiful restaurants, bars and choice of foods, sumptuous rooms, with great attention to detail and attached to a shopping mall. What more can a girl ask for? (GTC can offer extra perks on Shangri-La booking such as upgrades, hotel credit and free breakfast).
But I wasn’t here for the shopping! I wanted to explore Sri Lanka, the wonderful people, the food, and the culture. The Hindu and Buddhist temples. Sri Lanka has everything and more.
We stayed in the Club Rooms at The Shangri La and would highly recommend the club lounge. It has spectacular views over Colombo and overlooks the Indian Ocean. The food is of exceptional quality, beautifully presented each evening, Michelin star quality, one of the best lounges we have experienced, and the cocktails were amazing. Who wants to try a Wood Apple Martini, the favoured fruit of the elephants?
Kalutara – Anantara
We travelled along the South Coast, stopping off at The Anantara 5* resort in Kalutara to a warm blessing of oil lamp lighting, staying in a Deluxe Pool view room, overlooking the Indian ocean in the distance, the pool and the lagoon. The scenery in Sri Lanka is spectacular, vastly changing every 50km, you are in a completely different place.
Kalutara is a great place to relax, and unwind, overlooking the Indian Ocean, wildlife abounds, monkeys, water monitors and all kinds of birds. The rooms are spectacular, with beautiful bathrooms and amenities.
Several restaurants are on-site, and it is a heady mix of Geoffrey Bawa architecture that meets the Indian Ocean vibe.
Galle – La Grand Hotel Galle
The next stop on our trip was Galle, the wonderful Dutch fort, a heady mix of Victorian, Dutch and Indian, all mingling in the beautiful colonial hotels and seafood restaurant smells wafting along the walkways, one of our favourite places. La Grand Hotel Galle is a Japanese-designed hotel with all the usual Japanese plumbing and the most spectacular views and amazing rooms, and a beautiful restaurant.
You can see the historic fort from your room and listen to the monkeys in the treetops every morning over a la carte breakfasts, which were superb.
The next stop on our trip was Weligama, home to the famous tuna fish and beaches. We stayed at the Marriot Weligama, a large 5* bustling hotel, perfect for couples and families, and we were expecting more from the Marriott it was bustling but lacked the wow factor.
All rooms are front facing and overlook the ocean, and the views are stunning, but there is no club lounge, and we found the service very corporate.
The breakfast buffet was the highlight of this hotel, every station, cooked to order, to suit every taste.
Sri Lanka is perfect for visiting in January and February. It has something for everyone.
If you want to find out more about Weligama, which has ambitions of Miami’s South Beach vibes, you can read my Forbes article here.
Like what you read? We have more reader reviews for you here, if you’re interested to know more about other destinations.
Sounds wonderful, thank you for the review. How did you travel around?
I had the pleasure to visit Kandy (Radisson) & Colombo (Hilton) earlier this month and the welcome was amazing. The island relies heavily on tourism and Covid has added to the recent political turmoil, however as things have settled down there are signs of tourists slowly returning. The Sri Lankan people are so welcoming with their smiles and the accommodation has some of the most delightful views. I for one can’t wait to be back again in 2023 for business and leisure.
Really pleased to read this review as Sri Lanka is somewhere we’ve thought about visiting but never taken the plunge! We’ll use our Qatar vouchers and this review to plan.
How many days would be appropriate for a trip like this and as the comment above how is best to travel around?
Nice review but I think I’d want to know a bit more about security at the Shangri La.
Great review. Must try to find a way there that is cheaper than LHR-CMB.
Sri Lanka has a huge amount to offer the traveller. Not just hotels. Shame we didn’t get to read a bit more about the country. I would suggest a 4/5 days touring around, combined with a similar number of beach days. For those wanting an extension, the Maldives are only 4.5 hours flight from Colombo.
A good start on a hugely diverse and historically important island but there is so much more to choose from than 5 star corporate hotels.
As well as the nature reserves, temples, agricultural diversity and important religions now largely living in harmony, there are amazing beaches, topography and of course food.
Don’t self drive unless you are Asia experienced confident-drivers and vehicles are relatively inexpensive, even for long distances.
Don’t talk about inter ethnic politics and wars with casual contacts.
Stay in character hotels like The Galle Face in Colombo and The owl and the pussy cat near Galle and save the cookie cutter brands for a 5 day side trip to The Maldives if beach, sea and spa is high on your list.
Sri Lanka is a fabulous country – I work with a Vet over there who takes our University students to learn how to spay/neuter. I have been to the country many times and found it totally safe. I would personally not bother with staying in a 5 star Hotel, I would stay in the smaller, local Hotels who have great facilities, lovely food and are a fraction of the cost. For me, that is also the only way to see the ‘real’ Sri Lanka.
It’s very easy to get a driver to take you around. Travelling on a train up to Kandy from Colombo is a great way to see the countryside too.
I thoroughly recommend it.
Thank you very much for your lovely review and the fab comments by the others.
From Rajith Abeywickrema, a surgeon from Orkney, UK.
Galle is a fantastic place to visit, especially
I stayed in Colombo at the Shangri La in May this year (during the political unrest which was close to the hotel). I felt very safe and the hotels security was tight (security arches at each of the entrances to the hotel and your bags were scanned each time you returned to the hotel). I flew via Doha from London Gatwick on BA/Qatar Airways.
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