We spent 10 days exploring the island of Sri Lanka, mostly in small family-run 'homestay' style hotels. Of the different accommodation website, booking.com seemed to work best. Here's where we went and where we stayed:
1) Habarana - Mutu VillageTo explore the 'Cultural Triangle' area of Sri Lanka, we based ourselves in Habarana, as it is well located for visiting Sigiriya, Dambulla, Polonnaruwa and Minneriya National Park. Following a strong recommendation in an online travel discussion, I booked us into Mutu Village, where we stayed for 4 nights. It was the best place that we stayed in our time in Sri Lanka.
|The balcony of our treehouse
Run by husband and wife, Ajith and Mutu, the wooden cottages and treehouse rooms are set in the peaceful garden of their family home, where they grow vegetables, herbs and spices. The garden is also great for chilling out and relaxing on the hammocks, when you are not out exploring or post massage - you can get an ayurverdic massage on site.
The very generous breakfasts (common in Sri Lanka) are included in the price. The family also offer (a delicious) dinner for a very reasonable price.
We paid 40US$ a night for our double treehouse room, with private bathroom.
2) Arugam Bay - Lazy BayLooking at booking.com to find accommodation in Arugam Bay, I really struggled to tell the difference between the different options from their online reviews.
What I'd say about Lazy Bay, which I eventually picked is that 'it was fine'. The room was pretty basic, although they did upgrade us to a room with A/C at no extra cost when we arrived.
|Seating area directly outside our room
|Communal outside area.
Again, we paid 40US$ a night for a double room, with private bathroom - the same as the lovely Mutu Village, but no where near as nice.
3) Ella - Monarch Ella
Monarch Ella was recommended to us by a fellow blogger, who highlighted the generous breakfast and spacious rooms. Both were very true!
|Yes this is breakfast not dinner for two not a family of five
The small family run place is well located - just a short walk along the railway line into town. It was a bit tricky to find though. Its off of Kitalella Road. There's a road off Kitalella that has a sign at the turning indicating that Monarch Ella is down that way. Follow that road until you get to hard standing car park area. Monarch Ella is opposite the car park.
Gayan who was running the place was sweet and looked after us very well.
I enjoyed reading my book on the balcony with Ella Rock in view. However, I did look on slightly jealously at the hotel next door, which not only had a pool, but which also was a little bit higher, meaning their view was less obstructed by trees.
|It would have been nice to see over those trees (it was still very nice though!)
Monarch Ella cost us 38US$ a night for our spacious double room, with private bathroom, although the huge breakfast wasn't included in the price. (The View next door - with the better view - is about 70US$ a night for a double.)
4) Colombo - The ResidenceAs we were only staying one night in Colombo, arriving late-ish and leaving early, I tried to find somewhere that wasn't too expensive, but not too basic. I thought The Residence fit the bill. However, having stayed there, I wouldn't particularly recommend it, mainly as the room was tiny and it felt overpriced.
I was particularly annoyed that when booking all of the other places that we stayed in, in Sri Lanka, the booking.com confirmed price included all taxes. However, for The Residence, those extra costs were excluded and I didn't notice until we arrived and we were charged 15US$ more than I was expecting to pay.
We paid 70US$ once all of the taxes added on.
Mutu Village - Kashyapagama
Lazy Bay - along Beach Hut Road
Monarch Ella - off Kitalella
The Residence - The official address is 471 -4/1 Galle Road, but its actually on Temple Lane