Sri Lanka’s tapestry-like topography allows for a holiday very few destinations can match. There are its golden sand beaches, its tropical forests and lush tea plantations, alongside its vibrant cities and historical towns with intriguing colonial pasts. In between these sights lie stunning hotels, many offering rooms and suites with private pools. Here are the best hotels with private pool villas in Sri Lanka for an elevated stay.
Ultra-exclusive and luxurious brand Aman has two outposts on the verdant Indian Ocean Island offering two distinct experiences: a beachfront resort looking onto the cliffs and crashing waves and a colonial townhouse in the charming town of Galle. The former, Amanwella, is located on Sri Lanka’s sunny south coast, hidden in lush tropical jungle and backing onto golden sands with coconut palms. The stunning hotel is home to some of the most beautiful private pool suites and villas in Sri Lanka, dotted around the beachfront, in the garden and on the hilltop. Interiors are neutral with soothing wood touches and fawns and green tones. Guests can book into a premium ocean pool suite, ocean pool suite, ocean hill pool suite or garden pool suite – each with their own terrace.
Villa from AED2,755 per night; aman.com
Haritha Villas + Spa
Haritha Villas + Spa is a favourite with honeymooners and those looking to truly switch off when visiting Sri Lanka. The stylish property sits on a hilltop under a lush canopy of trees a short distance from Narigama and Hikkaduwa beaches and blends contemporary design with traditional Sri Lankan and colonial design elements. Contemporary Villa with private pools are ultra-modern with their open-plan layout, clean white walls and floor-to-ceiling glass doors which open fully onto the private terrace with plunge pool, while the Colonial Villas are mini-mansions with open bathrooms, white columns, verandas and more traditional colonial design touches. Guests can book into a one or two-bedroom Colonial Villa – which shares a sprawling infinity pool shaded by palms.
Pool villas from about AED1,615 per night; harithavillas.com
Wild Coast Lodge
Wild Coast Lodge offers an experience very few hotels can offer: the chance to feel totally alone, and connected with nature, but still enjoy luxuries like a private pool, four-poster bed, private bathroom and air-conditioning. One of three Relais and Chateaux hotels in the country, this luxury tented ‘camp’ is a dream for wildlife and nature lovers, sandwiched between the jungle and a rugged, isolated beach bordering the Yala National Park. The site offers accommodation in charming and sustainable ‘Cocoon tents’, with canvas walls hiding dark leather furnishings, sleek copper bathtubs and teak. Four Cocoon tents come with their own spacious private pools, dotted around next to wildlife-attracting watering holes. Dining follows a similar safari-inspired theme, including a jungle afternoon tea and even cookery classes.
Tents from about AED3,270 per night; resplendentceylon.com
Anantara Kalutara Resort
Anantara Kalutara Resort is a high-end resort just an hour’s drive from the capital Colombo, offering a much-needed dose of island life but with close links to the city and international airport. The hotel sits on a secluded beachfront where the Kalu Ganga River meets the Indian Ocean and boasts a design-led aesthetic inspired by famed architect, Geoffrey Bawa – lots of shiny teak reminiscent of the Thai brand’s signature aesthetic. There are three categories of private pool suites and villas to choose from: the grand Royal Bawa Suite with floor-to-ceiling glass windows and a private terrace and plunge pool; the one-bedroom pool villa with its plunge pool, private garden sundeck and outdoor dining area and the two-bedroom pool villa with added kitchenette. Anantara’s signature spa specialises in Ayurvedic treatments while dining and drinking options include authentic Sri Lankan and Mediterranean fare.
Pool villas from AED2,320 per night; anantara.com
Uga Ulagalla sits amongst 58 acres of tropical vegetation, paddy fields and orchards, located in the heart of Sri Lanka’s ancient kingdom of Anuradhapura – the centre of Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle and the birthplace of Buddhism in the country. In many ways, the luxury resort feels in many ways like a film set: a 150-year-old mansion at the centre of the resort and 25 luxurious private pool villas dotted around the estate (the only hotel with private pool villas in the Cultural Triangle). There are one- and two-bedroom pool villas to choose from – all white walls with teak touches, thatched roofs and chandeliers – each with a private patio, sun loungers, and a film library for cosy nights in. The hotel has a spa, a main freshwater pool. It offers activities like horseback riding, bike riding, archery and excursions to local villages, UNESCO World Heritage sites and paddy fields to see traditional rice harvesting and festivals.
Pool villas from about AED1,100 per night; ugaescapes.com
Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle Resort
Luxury Thai hotel brand Anantara is known for its much-loved, luxury Asian resorts, and Peace Haven Tangalle is no exception. The hotel sits on a rocky outcrop on the southern coast of Sri Lanka, above a golden, coconut palm-strewn beach and near the historic fort town of Tangalle and is perfectly positioned to explore the island’s rainforests, historical sites and fishing ports. There are 152 light and airy rooms and pool villas with four categories of private pool villas to choose from – all with a modern take on traditional Sri Lankan design. There are garden, ocean and beach pool villas and a spacious two-bedroom pool villa perfect for families or groups of friends. The signature Anantara Spa specialises in Ayurvedic treatments, and there’s cliffside dining, traditional afternoon tea and activities like turtle watching and water sports.
Pool villas from AED 2,193; anantara.com
Uga Chena Huts – All Inclusive
Uga Chena Huts is one of the most spectacular hotels in Sri Lanka with private pool villas – located on a seven-acre stretch of land in the island’s rugged deep south and a five-minute drink from Yala National Park. Capitalising on the remote, peaceful jungle experience, the hotel has just 14 130sq ft guest cabins, designed to blend in harmoniously with nature with their curved thatched roofs and wooden terraces shaded by ancient forest. Interiors have a subtle African safari theme and feature lots of log furniture, African motifs, earthy colours, and sumptuous touches like free-standing tubs and mood lighting. Each villa has a shaded deck with plunge pool and the main hotel has a spa area and main restaurant. What makes this hotel even more special is that everything is included – breakfast, lunch and dinner along with all selected beverages.
From about AED3,120 per night; ugaescapes.com
Luxury Sri Lanka-based Resplendent Ceylon has some of the most exclusive and beautiful properties on the island (Wild Coast and Ceylon are in its portfolio), and each brings its own charm and identity. Sitting on Sri Lanka’s soaring southern cliffs is Cape Weligama, sitting in 12- acres of tropical garden overlooking the Indian Ocean. The hotel has just 39 rooms across 23 Villas and 16 Suites and three dining outlets, two categories of rooms have private pools: the 200 square metre Pool Villa with a 15-metre private infinity swimming pool overlooking the ocean and resort, and the enormous 310 square metre Duplex Pool Villa with a 15-metre infinity pool, steam room, private terrace and other luxurious facilities. Spacious rooms and suites are inspired by the hospitality of a Sri Lankan village and the island’s maritime heritage and have terracotta-tiled roofs, colourful walls and verandas looking out onto the gardens.
Villas from about AED2,610; resplendentceylon.com