Asia, Sri Lanka, Unique Places to Stay
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7 Epic (yet affordable) Airbnbs to Stay in Sri Lanka.

Airbnb sri lanka

As the first rays of sunlight streamed through my window, I drowsily opened my eyes to a panoramic 180-degree view of Knuckles Mountains. Victoria Lake shimmered below, as though waking up with me, and my infinity pool beckoned for a morning dip. Laying in bed, I blinked a few times to convince myself this wasn’t a dream in which I had become a billionaire – it was just my incredible (yet affordable) Airbnb in the paradise island of Sri Lanka.

Three years ago, on my first trip to Sri Lanka, I wrote: “It’s not a country for flashpackers: Our moderate budget only seems to afford drab guesthouses / budget hotels – average accommodation quality, no local insights, nothing memorable.”

Airbnb changed that.

Huma terra sri lanka, airbnb sri lanka, airbnb hikkaduwa

My off-the-grid Airbnb hideout near Hikkaduwa.

I found homes with million dollar views, the design quality of luxurious boutique hotels, and infinity pools that could easily make the coolest infinity pools to swim in before you die list. I got a chance to sample traditional family recipes (adapted to my vegan preference) that feature in no restaurant menus. And I left the country with treasured friendships with local hosts I wouldn’t otherwise have met. All this while staying kind to my pocket!

Sri Lankan food, Sri Lanka curries, Sri Lanka culture

Delicious homemade curries at my Airbnb near Kandy.

Not on Airbnb yet? Sign up with my referral link to get 20$ off your first booking.

Behold, the most awesome Airbnbs I found in Sri Lanka:

Arjuna and Zane’s home: Menikdiwela (near Kandy)

Airbnb kandy, Sri Lanka blog, Sri lanka culture

I can imagine living here!

I love the hill country of Sri Lanka, but I hate the crowds. The answer – Menikdiwela, a tiny tea plantation village with breathtaking views of the hills, where Arjuna grew up and after a long stint in Europe, moved back to design the kind of home I can see myself ‘living’ in. I don’t know if it was the wood-fired curries, the endless – often hilarious – conversations about life in Sri Lanka vs India, the curious locals in the nearby villages, basking in the winter sun by the gorgeous pool (with a flu, sniff) or the hikes we never went on (sniff) that made me promise I’d come back and stay longer.

INR 4546 (US$ 67) per night; 

Read: The Joy of Slow Travel

College House: Colombo

Airbnb colombo, college house colombo, Sri Lanka culture

My colonial abode in Colombo.

I think I’m slowly getting over my mental block of spending too much time in a city – and College House in Colombo has a role to play. It was love at first sight with this charming colonial-style home, dating back atleast 200 years; a home that has inspired dancers and writers through its fascinating history. I’ll save the stories for Valli and Fauzi – my hosts-turned-friends in the span of two short days – to tell you over a meal of thosai and chutneys! But using Uber to get around, catching up with Twitter friends at the local brewery, shopping at Odel, I felt I was home in Colombo.

INR 2800 (US$ 40) per night; 

Tip: The casual atmosphere is more that of visiting a friend’s home than a B&B – which is why I loved it. Read my review on their Airbnb page to calibrate your expectations.

Huma Terra: Hikkaduwa

huma terra, airbnb sri lanka, sri lanka off the grid, sri lanka responsible travel

Off-the-grid in the rice paddies of Huma Terra.

It’s one thing to indulge in luxury, quite another to indulge in luxury that is hand-crafted by a French couple and commendably off-the-grid. We were only a 20-minute bicycle ride from the west coast (including the famous Hikkaduwa beach), yet in a world where our output in the dry decomposting toilets was used to make manure for the lush organic rice paddies surrounding us – aka our input😉

INR 7,000 (US$ 100) per night; 

Tip: Local food can be prepared if ordered in advance with the cook. The French / fusion food is not vegan-friendly unfortunately.

Gem River Edge: Yala National Park

Yala national park, airbnb yala, airbnb sri lanka

Why I need to go back to Sri Lanka! Photo by Kosala Bandara.

I was saving the best for the last, but as luck would have it, the last wasn’t to be. Still, I can’t help dreaming of spending a few days in the forests of Yala National Park, cycling in the buffer zone, going deep into the park on a 12-hour safari, living in an environmentally-conscious abode, gathering by night to swap wildlife tales over curries cooked on an open fire.

INR 2800 (US$ 40) per night;  

Tip: Though most prices on Airbnb are listed for double occupancy, I always ask if single travelers are offered any special prices. Never hurts, and sometimes you get a great deal!

Read: How do our travel choices impact us?

Villa Shade: Negombo

Airbnb negombo, things to do in Sri lanka, Sri lanka locals

The close to nature feeling in my Negombo neighborhood.

I love hitting the countryside soon as I land in a country, and I love Negombo for that – a small beach town with paddies and forests in the residential interiors, and closer to the Colombo airport than Colombo. Even after 3 years, landing in Sri Lanka and knocking on the doors of Villa Shade late at night, felt like going home; such is the warmth with which Shiraj and his wife have welcomed me both times. Although their home has changed to make more space for guests (and a sweet new infinity pool) and less for the bamboo forests I loved so much, I still appreciate its close-to-nature feeling, and borrowing their bicycle for a ride through the wilderness in the neighborhood was the perfect way to start my Sri Lanka explorations.

INR 1960 (US$ 28); 

Tip: Although the ‘chalets’ are listed on Airbnb, I prefer to stay in a cozy room in their family home; ask for it, it’s more affordable too.

Galkadawala Forest Lodge: Habarana

galkadawala forest lodge, airbnb sri lanka, sri lanka culture

My rustic eco-friendly room at Galkadawala.

I can still catch a whiff of the cucumber curry, slow cooked for four hours on an open fire, as we soak in the silence of the dark forest with our hostess Maulie – who left her cushy life in Colombo and decided to recreate the harmony between man and nature in the heart of Sri Lanka’s golden triangle. Borrowing a sarong and joining the village women for a dip in the tank, hiking through mushy desert terrain, kayaking in crocodile waters and living off-the-grid, Maulie did more than create harmony; she created a place to fall in love with.

INR 4690 (US$ 69); 

Read: Galkadawala: Sri Lanka’s Best Kept Secret

Ambavillas: Digana (near Kandy)

Airbnb kandy, Airbnb sri lanka, sri lanka locals, sri lanka culture

A million dollar view from my Airbnb room in Digana.

Just when I thought Sri Lanka couldn’t surprise me anymore, my tuk tuk stopped at the home of Lotte and Shadwell, and I entered a dream. Think, waking up in my glass-walled palace room to a 180-degree panorama of Victoria Lake and Knuckles Mountains, mingling with local expats in the golf club next door, picking wild coffee beans with my hosts, swapping travel tales and dark chocolate recipes… if only I didn’t have to wake up from that worth-the-splurge dream.

INR 7400 (US$ 110); 

Read: Lessons on the Art of Living, in Sri Lanka’s Hill Country

Airbnb sri lanka, Sri lanka where to stay, Sri Lanka travel blog

Seriously, wouldn’t this be an infinity pool to swim in before you die?😉

Have you found any incredible Airbnbs in Sri Lanka – or elsewhere? Share away.

Note: I handpicked all Airbnbs for my Sri Lanka trip, and wrote this post with the support of Airbnb India.

See my Airbnb wishlist – Surprising Sri Lanka for all these finds in one place.

If you haven’t used Airbnb before, sign up with my referral link to get 20$ off your first stay.

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  1. hashin says

    Hi Shivya,

    I regularly follow your blog and it’s pretty amazing. But I would like to point out here that the places you have mentioned (which are amazing), aren’t really affordable by backpacker standards. I have subscribed to your newsletter and opens every article anticipating something great. I am sure you will understand why I am putting up this comment.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow! Believe it or not, I was choosing between Nilaveli and the one in Digana towards the end of my trip, and the mountains just won me over😉 Hope to visit it next time, thanks for sharing!


  2. Chaitali Patel says

    Great list – some of those places look absolutely amazing! And yes that pool is to die for. We stayed at a gorgeous Air BnB in Colombo – the house of architect Tilak Samarawickrema. Tilak and his wife have a stunning bungalow in the heart of the city which they have now opened up to travelers. Their house is a treasure trove for art and design lovers. We loved it!


    • That bungalow looks pretty amazing Chaitali! And I’m sure you must have had some rather interesting conversations with Tilak. Bookmarking it for my next trip🙂 Thanks for sharing!


  3. Vijay says

    Nice accommodation ,do doubt,but all travellers need to be aware that most of the travel bloggers in the name of getting business to the accommodation providers enjoy freebies saying their blog has X number of visitors and they were selected for this or that meet etc..Accomodation providers and even Star hotels management fall for it without proper analysis, The most important aspect of any backpack traveller is Financing his travel for which 80% do it from their own money,rest are smart in capitalsing the blog mania, Sadly many do not understand this…Travel is really hard but earning one’s own money and spending it is even more hard, The above Accomodation information is fine for travellers with money not backpackers…Finally the choice is our’s.


    • Vijay, I appreciate your comment but I wish you had atleast taken the time to read my blog and how I fund my travels – a detailed post I wrote recently. Just to be clear, I paid for most of these Airbnbs out of my pocket (as I do for 90% of my travels), and when I saw potential in a partnership with Airbnb, I approached them. I work very hard to balance money with honest reviews, and I would appreciate if you saw a bit of my work before classifying it as ‘blog mania’.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Tales of a Globetrotter says

        Very sensible reply, I would have probably got defensive and blown my top. Really impressed with your cool head and appropriate play of words🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Quite a wonderful country and a fantastic post on places to stay, we always love such downtown, off the rush, country side or into tje woods kind of accomodation, we are definitely bookmarking this and will be staying around thesenplaces on our srilanka visit.


    • It is a wonderful country, and these places are perfect for travellers like yourself! I hope you’ll love Sri Lanka as much as I did on your upcoming trip🙂


    • That’s awesome Yvonne, I visited Sri Lanka around July the last time, and it was gorgeous then too! Hope you stay at and fall in love with some of these places too🙂


    • Do that Jane – as long as you spend time researching accommodations, reading reviews and finding something to suit your taste and interests – I’m sure it won’t disappoint!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Tales of a Globetrotter says

    Nicely done Shivya 😊 . Wouldn’t be trying the Huma Terra though, can’t imagine eating the rice there 😝


  6. The Traveloholic says

    I like the pic of that small tree house in Hikkaduwa. Must have been an adventure to stay there. (y)


    • It sure was an adventure, especially being surrounded by rice paddies. But there are 3-4 more such houses nearby (owned by the same owners, a mini lodge you might say) and a nice central area with a bar, so you’re off the grid yet not all alone – I guess that’s a plus and minus😉

      Liked by 1 person

    • Awesome that you’re off to Spain. Unfortunately I didn’t really use Airbnb much in Spain, where I travelled a long time ago. I stayed in several Casa Rurales – which are a similar concept to Airbnb, local-run countryside accommodations, but less organized. I’m sure you’ll find some interesting options on both!


  7. Hi Shivya,
    We are just about to put our house in Colombo on Airbnb. Hope you will be able to help with some tips and ideas!



    • Hi Ann, that’s really great, I’m sure you’ll meet some interesting people! Feel free to email me at to discuss what you have in mind. Happy to share ideas with you, based on what I loved and what I thought could be done better🙂


  8. Nupur Chakraborty says

    Hi Shivya,

    First of all kudos to your spirit! For following your heart and travelling “the road less travelled.”
    You have been an inspiration to me and probably so many more!
    Thanks to people like you I have been able to climb out of my two by two cubicle and start on my first solo sojourn!

    Many thanks,


  9. Zahra says

    Amazing article, informative and so inviting ! planning to visit Sri Lanka next month. Any tips on local travel/ Taxis/ Costs – especially long distances?


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