So you’re all set for your escapades in Sri Lanka’s lush forests, verdant rolling hills and scenic beaches, but are unsure where to spend those first few nights in the capital? Well we’ve got you covered.

Whether its luxury hotels or heritage stays, Colombo offers something unique to every kind of traveler.  With an old world charm that envelopes the whole city, there are markets, temples, lots of dining options and of course, dazzling sea views all around the city. Whatever you fancy, here’s a list that can narrow your search for the perfect place to stay in Colombo.

1. For Couples And Families: Kollupitiya

One of the best areas to stay in Colombo is the Kollupitiya neighborhood. This area has undergone recent changes, transforming from an area predominantly known for its colonial brewery, to what is now one of the most important commercial neighborhoods in Colombo, dotted with restaurants, hotels, shops and street vendors.  Also known as the business hub of the city, this district is where all the action is at.

Where Should You Stay?

When considering Hotel options in the area, fret not. Kollupitiya offers Hotels aplenty to suit every kind of traveler’s budget without ever taking away the slightest bit from the truly amazing experience that Colombo can be.

Renuka City Hotel (Budget)

Offering some spectacular sea views, embraced by the meandering Sri Lankan railways, and close to the market and dining joints, the rooms at Renuka City Hotel are clean, stylish and spacious. For a budget option, the service is also excellent. The hotel also has a stunning roof-top pool that is a clear highlight.

Ramada By Wyndham Colombo (Mid-range)

A great way to experience the famed Sri Lankan hospitality, Ramada by Wyndham Colombo is known for its excellent service. It is located right on the Galle Face beach, and is within walking distance from all that Kollupitiya has to offer.

Cinnamon Grand Colombo (High-end)

One of the most popular properties in Sri Lanka, the Cinnamon Grand is one of the highest rated hotels in the city. An iconic structure, it is close to several diners, and the rooms have incredible views of the sea and the gorgeous city.

Shangri-La Hotel Colombo (High-end)

While the Shangri-La brand needs no introduction – this award-winning hotel is an icon in Colombo’s skyline. The Shangri-La Hotel Colombo is centrally located and combines great hospitality with charming views, for the ultimate luxury experience.

Why Should You Stay Here?

This multi-cultural district offers a unique opportunity to experience the real Colombo. The Kollupitiya market is one of the largest in the city, offering all sorts of goods at reasonable prices. The central market features countless vendors, selling a wide array of goods, including produce, meats, souvenirs, electronics, crafts, clothes, and antiques. Locals and tourists alike frequent the market to bargain for goods. For those intimidated by the bustle and haggling of the market, head to Laksala, a fair-trade souvenir shop run by the state.

In terms of its cultural offering, the Kollupitiya is home to Sri Lanka´s largest museum – the National Museum that covers over 2500 years of history and offers a brilliant insight into both the local culture and the country´s colonial history. This area is also proximate to Colombo´s other attractions, as the majority of them are within walking distance or easily accessible via public transport.

With abundant dining options and a vibrant nightlife, this area is home to one of Colombo’s most well-known beaches – Galle Face Beach, and is a popular choice for tourists. This is also where Colombo’s famous casinos are located – Bellagio, Star Dust and Casino Marina, to name a few – and it’s well worth trying your luck at one of these.

What’s The Catch?

This is where the majority of restaurants and bars are at, as well as a large majority of hotels. While shopping and dining coupled with amazing sea views make it the perfect place to stay in Colombo, during peak tourist season, it does tend to get a little overcrowded.

2. For Solo Travelers And Youngsters: Cinnamon Gardens

This is one of Colombo’s up and coming party neighborhoods. Everything stems from one pedestrian street called Park Street. This area is close to the iconic Gangaramaya Temple, visited by most tourists in Colombo, although Park Street has more of a reputation for it’s restaurants, cafes and nightclubs rather than the temple. The famous Beira Lake is only a few blocks away and so is the Viharamahadevi Park, both located on the edge of Cinnamon Gardens.

Where Should You Stay?

Cinnamon Gardens boasts some of Colombo’s most magnificent buildings and restored colonial mansions. Most of these, have now been converted into glamorous hotels replete with boutique style suites. Check into one of these and thrive in their antiquated vibe and a whiff of their fabled past.

Residence by Uga Escapes (High-end)

This Victorian townhouse once welcomed governors, maharajas, nobility, and the cream of Ceylon’s (as Sri Lanka was then called) colonial society. Today, it’s a standing example of Colombo’s rich cultural capital.

Tintagel Colombo (Mid-range)

Tintagel Colombo has seen a number of distinguished guests pass through its corridors – from the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall to other elite clientele from around the world. Along with being in a great neighborhood, it also provides excellent service.

Why Should You Stay Here?

Cinnamon Gardens is Colombo’s most gentrified area. A century ago it was sprawling with cinnamon plantations. Today it’s known for its elegant tree-lined streets with posh mansions, embassies, stylish cafes and shops, sports grounds and a cluster of museums and galleries. This region of the city has many boutique hotels and is much less commercialized. This relaxing respite of a neighborhood is only 15 minutes from Kollupitiya, making it very well accessible to the busy center’s cultural activities, shopping, restaurants, and nightlife.Colombo’s vivid white, domed 1928 Old Town Hall overlooks the area’s heart, Viharamahadevi Park. To the south is the striking Nelum Pokuna Mahinda Rajapaksa Theatre, that opened in the year 2011.

What’s The Catch?

While a posh area, Cinnamon Gardens is also a residential area, meaning there may be some restrictions.

3. For Couples And Backpackers: Mount Lavinia

Located at a 20 minute drive south of the heart of Colombo, Mt. Lavinia is well-populated and is largely a middle class and mostly residential suburb, also famed for its beaches. Although not technically within town limits, Mount Lavinia is home to a number of impressive landmarks and places to visit. One such, is the Mount Lavinia Beach – the closest beach to Colombo city where you can indulge in water sports such as swimming, diving and surfing. The beach area also has several shacks and cafes that let you relax in a calm and peaceful setting for a late breakfast or lunch – and transform into popular nightlife spots after sunset, offering a glimpse into a laid-back and relaxed nightlife.

Where Should You Stay?

Stay at Mt. Lavinia’s numerous budget-friendly, hole-in-the-wall stays or saunter into one of it’s old, gracious, refurbished colonial structures. Either way, you won’t really be that far from the beach!

Berjaya Hotel Colombo (Budget)

Great views combined with a comfortable stay make this one of the best budget options in the area.

Anarva Mount Lavinia (Mid-range)

A charming property located 5 minutes from the beach, Anarva offers an urban retreat away from the city, with its comfortable rooms and an Ayurvedic spa to boot.

Mount Lavinia Hotel (High-end)

A historical icon of Colombo, this hotel dates back to 200 years, and is a heritage hotel that has earned a lot of fame for its magnificent structure. The hotel is worthy of a stay just for its colonial vibe, and also offers a great way to acquaint yourself to the history of this area.

Mount Lodge Boutique Hotel (Off-beat)

A quiet heritage hotel located only minutes from the beach, this hotel is a great place to unwind at with the whole family.

Why Should You Stay Here?

This area is for those looking for a quiet vacation, away from the city crowds. With a decent number of accommodation options and lots to see and do, it’s a great place to unwind. Mt. Lavinia is considered a hot spot for many, to enjoy the golden beach stretching out into the horizon.The Mt. Lavinia Beach is a popular venue for visitors and locals alike with thousands flocking the beach during weekends and holidays.

What’s The Catch?

It can be a bit far from the city center and other touristy areas.

4. For Families: Pettah & Fort

The legacies of colonial Colombo’s garden roots remain intact along its shaded boulevards. Fort is a compelling place thanks to ongoing restoration of its landmark colonial architecture, while Pettah brims with markets and rampant commerce. There are surprises abound – with a little exploration you’ll find great local food, shops and tiny, convivial cafes breathing the Sri Lankan vitality. This area is also home to the famous Ministry of Crab and many other textile and tea businesses at the Dutch Hospital Shopping Precinct.

Where Should You Stay?

Some of the most impressive hotels and corporations line these districts lying to the east of the bustling city of Colombo. Expect a host of options suited for a slightly tighter budget as well plenty to cater to a luxury holiday if that’s what you’re planning on.

Colombo City Hotel (Budget)

Located at the heart of Colombo, right opposite the World Trade Center Twin Towers and the Old Dutch Hospital Precinct, this is the ideal hotel for people who want to be at walking distance to Colombo’s historical buildings on a budget.

Fairway Colombo (Mid-range)

Get the best of a cosmopolitan experience in the middle of an old world charm in Colombo at this iconic hotel.

Kingsbury Hotel (High-end)

One of the oldest icons among Sri Lanka’s luxury hotels, the Kingsbury Hotel provides great accessibility along with the old fashioned hospitality that this country is known for.

Hilton Colombo (High-end)

A beacon of luxury in the heart of the city, this hotel is also the only one that has a direct bridge connecting itself to the World Trade Center, making it a perfect option for those wanting to stay close to the business district.

Why Should You Stay Here?

This area smells of the Sri Lankan history and culture. Whatever you are looking for, you’ll find it in Pettah – though shopping here can call for determined bargaining. Among the most interesting streets for both sightseeing and shopping is Sea Street, in the northeast corner of Pettah, with its goldsmiths’ workshops and the dramatically colorful Hindu Kathiresan and Old Kathiresan Kovils temples.The old ‘Dutch House’ in Prince Street houses the Dutch museum, built in the latter part of the 17th century.This is also Sri Lanka’s main bus and train depot with the Fort Railway Station and Pettah Main Bus Stand drawing thousands of commuters each day travelling to and from all parts of the island and keeping tourists connected to all parts of Colombo.

5. For Honeymooners And Families: Wellawatte

Wellawatte is the best area to stay, for access to the city’s artistic community is easiest from here. This region is heavily populated with jewelry and textile shops. Visitors are especially encouraged to check out Gandhara Shop, a lifestyle concept store with unique artisan crafts and home wares. A Colombo city icon, the Savoy Cinema is set in a beautifully renovated older building in Wellawette. The Wellawatte Beach on the coast is one of the most popular beaches in Colombo and is especially known for high-quality seafood restaurants lining the shore.

Where Should You Stay?

Wellawatte once sparingly populated, has taken to urbanization as well as an inner-city neighborhood can. It’s a thronging urban hubspot today and a pleasant hive of business and enterprise. A hotel stay here, will give you a feel of the sea while never alienating itself from the urbane side of Colombo.

Global Towers Hotel (Mid-range)

One of the best rated hotels in Wellawatte, this hotel is perfect for families, with suites featuring multiple rooms along with a pool and spa.

Sapphire Hotel (Budget)

Across the train tracks from the sea shore, this hotel sits at a great location. At affordable rates, the service is great and offers a perfect base to explore the wonderful city of Colombo from.

Why Should You Stay Here?

This is the most prominent shopping hub in Colombo. Whether its designer stores, local boutiques or high street retail outlets, this is where you can get the best deals. Sitting on the southern-most ceiling of the city, Wellawatte also houses a plethora of dining options. Located on Marine Drive, a stretch of road lined by the sea, is one of Sri Lanka’s best sea food restaurant, Beach Wadiya. The Dehiwala Zoological Park is also in this district – it’s a great way to see Sri Lanka’s local flora and fauna, especially as the park focuses on animal welfare and conservation. The Wellawatte beach is a 200 meter strip of golden sand and is at walking distance from many popular hotels in the area.

What’s The Catch?

As with Kollupitiya, Wellawatte tends to get crowded, especially during the holiday season, as locals and tourists flock to Colombo’s shopping district. So if you’re looking for a quiet holiday, this may not be the area for you.

No longer just the sprawling city you have to endure on your way to the beaches, Colombo has become a worthy destination in its own right and makes an excellent start – or end – to your Sri Lankan adventures.

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