Where to stay in Sri Lanka
It used to be that Sri Lanka’s accommodation, while wide-ranging, didn’t offer much in the way of sophistication. However the country’s accommodation offering has rocketed since the end of the war in 2009, as more and more tourists began to visit the island, and options now range from five-star retreats such as Geoffrey Bawa’s Heritance Kandalama hotel and the shabby chic allure of Talalla Retreat, to the low-budget backpacker shacks which, other than being cheap, have little to recommend them. Of the international-class 5-star hotels that exist, these are mostly located in the area around Negombo and along the southern coast near Galle. There are also many park bungalows run by the Department of Wildlife Conservation, which are furnished and equipped for comfort.
Grading: Hotels are classified from 1 to 5 stars.
Bed and breakfast
Inns and guesthouses offer comfortable but informal accommodation. Don't be surprised to find a distinct lack of amenities (or these being tacked on as paid-for extras) – hot water, towels, toilet paper and breakfast aren't always included. If staying in rural areas, these are more likely to be your best bet for accommodation as hotels are fewer and further between.
Sri Lanka does not currently have any campsites. Technically there's no law against wild camping so long as you're on public land; however in practice this is difficult to prove. Additional considerations such as the possible hassle from strangers, lack of security and the odd creepy crawlie getting into the tent, should also be considered.
Home stays: For visitors who'd like to get to know the locals and see how they live, arrangements can be made to stay in private homes within cities, or on a tea or rubber plantation. For a list of accredited homestays contact the Sri Lanka tourist board (www.srilanka.travel).