Hotels for me are a big part of the vacation experience. I can never just find a bed to crash in a new place and expect my body to function normally the next day. Luckily, the hotels I stayed at were all comfortable enough to feel like home and different enough to feel like vacation. These hotels were like three siblings – different in personality but then also quite Sri Lankan.

The purpose of this post is to remember my experiences at these hotels and also give you guys some information for your future holiday in Sri Lanka.

The Paradise Resort & Spa, Dambulla

When my tour guide warned us not to go out of the resort at night because there are wild elephants, cobras, pythons and vipers, we realized shit has got real. This homely resort is located in the middle of a jungle and with hostel-like cabins instead of rooms. Our cabin was a cosy double room with a hut ceiling that made it look much bigger than it was. Incredibly cute looking cabins both from the outside and inside.

But do not be deceived – not only was it missing a Muslim shower, it also had some unwanted nature in the form of…lizards. Yes, this hotel is full of lizards big and small, so if you are phobic then ABORT MISSION. We were also cautioned to stay within areas that have light to avoid being bitten by little snakes or iguanas or mosquitoes.

But to be fair it wasn’t all bad. In fact it was pretty decent-looking during the day. You could see paths paved with well-groomed trees and bushes and the weather was much cooler within the premises than all of Sri Lanka. Their pool was located at the edge of the resort overlooking a hill and a huge part of the sky. We swam (hung around the edges) for a couple of hours before sunset, and I couldn’t help thinking how different this was from my life back in Dubai. A pool, a forest, a hill, purple skies, dragonflies, crickets, dogs – so much to take in for five senses. But anyway, that was when the realization actually hit me that I’m not going back to work anytime soon.

The food was nothing like I expected. It was cheap buffet with hardly anything Sri Lankan. Even though the ingredients were farm grown in Sri Lanka, the dishes were mostly international and continental, probably to cater to the Chinese and European tourist influx in the resort. Or maybe that is all they offer, can’t be sure.

Room service and customer service overall was great. I can be sure about that because of how those brave men fought the monstrous lizarrrrrd in our cabin (okay not really, it was a tiny lizard). My sister and I together can conquer the world, but lizards are the death of both of us. So when we saw that thing strolling in our room, we went straight to the reception for help. They sent three men to find it and kill it for us. Whether we slept peacefully after that is a different story (we did not).

Randholee Luxury Resort & Spa, Kandy

Made for a getaway, Randolee Resort gets 10/10 on its location choice. This resort is located on top of a small mountain with an infinity pool overlooking Kandy city. If you ever go to Sri Lanka, you have to go to Kandy. If you ever go to Kandy, then you have to go to Randholee Resort. If you ever go to the Randholee Resort, then you absolutely MUST take a dip in the infinity pool. I did not do it and I think I will regret it for a very long time.

The rooms of this resort were also a welcome 5-star change after our wild Dambulla stay. They were spacious and artistic (I had a naked man’s painting above my headboard) that made you want to stay in despite the beauty overdose outdoors. 

I particularly enjoyed my time in the bathroom because of the vanity mirror, thank you very much.

In addition to the location and the pool, the hotel provided other great benefits like a Muslim shower and no lizards or cobras – a relief after two sleepless nights at Dambulla. But they did warn us about monkeys in the balconies (cute).

The food options at Randholee were just as whatever as The Paradise but they seemed to be made with more love. The buffet was mostly international with a few South Asian options like daal and naan but they didn’t look as appetizing so I went with our good ol’ noodles and salad. The dining area also had live music and the singers knew songs in about 25 languages so they sang both Arabic and Hindi songs for our group.

I didn’t get to test out their room service but judging by how they cleaned after us, I would give them a gold star.

Citrus Waskaduwa Resort

What in the world was this place I don’t know! Citrus may be one of the most beautifully situated hotels in Asia. You know like the one I would have drawn as a child if someone asked me to draw my dream house – with a pool in the garden and balconies facing the beach with the red-orange sunset that I would see while chilling on a hammock in my garden. That’s what I will remember Citrus for, for ever.

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The rooms at Citrus checked all the boxes for a basic 5-star hotel – fully equipped with TV, minibar, tea/coffee, safety box, WiFi but the majestic view from our balconies trumps them all. I’m not sure about their rates but I bet if they charged only for the view, people would pay.

What made Citrus stand out from the other two hotels was its unique brand image. The “theme” of the hotel was all orange and white and it surprisingly worked for them. From our bathroom supplies to the cushions to the table napkins, they had added little touches of “citrus” to everything.

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Food at Citrus was as average as it could get. Even though the variety was insane, including live cooking, we ate only to survive. But then again, the splendid view compensated for everything.

Citrus was one destination during my stay in Sri Lanka that I am taking most memories from. The things that immediately pop in mind when I close my eyes are:

  • Floating in the pool at 9 pm
  • Reading on the hammock at 7 am
  • Watching a sunset unlike any other sunset at the beach
  • Watching the reflection of a full moon on the ocean water at 10 pm
  • Full-body spa at the Citrus Wellness Spa (more on this later)

This is an absolute must-visit if you are going to Sri Lanka for the beaches. I can guarantee tons of colorful photos and countless beautiful memories.

Final words on hotels in Sri Lanka: Do not expect Dubai-like luxury from even their 5-star luxury hotels or resorts. Sri Lanka is cheaper for a reason. But if you’re not a picky soul, then their hotels will keep you happy. (Minor) Physical threat from wildlife is real so prepare yourselves. And no matter the stars, ultimate relaxation is guaranteed!

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I’m Siham - a 25-year-old Pakistani, born and raised in the UAE. Currently doing a boring desk job in Dubai - but my passion lies in reading, writing and motivating people.

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