My incredible Sri Lanka Airbnb collection – eco-friendly homes with million dollar views, cool aesthetics, infinity pools and the friendliest hosts.
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. 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 of average quality. No local insights, nothing memorable.”
Airbnb changed that.
But on this trip to Sri Lanka, we found accommodations 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 lifestyle) 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!
Not on Airbnb yet? Sign up with my referral link to get 40$ off your first stay.
Behold, the most awesome Airbnbs I found in Sri Lanka:
- Airbnb Kandy: Arjuna and Zane’s home in Menikdiwela
- Airbnb Colombo: College House
- Airbnb Hikkaduwa: Huma Terra
- Yala National Park Airbnb: Gem River Edge
- Airbnb Negombo: Villa Shade
- Airbnb Habarana: Galkadawala Forest Lodge (perhaps the best Sri Lanka Airbnb!)
- Airbnb Kanya: Ambavillas, overlooking Victoria Lake in Digana (my favorite Sri Lanka Airbnb in the hill country)
- Have you found any incredible Sri Lanka Airbnb? Share away.
Airbnb Kandy: Arjuna and Zane’s home in Menikdiwela
I love the hill country of Sri Lanka, but I hate the crowds.
The answer – Menikdiwela, a quiet little tea plantation village with breathtaking views of the hills, where Arjuna grew up. After a long stint in Europe, he moved back to design the kind of home I can see myself ‘living’ in.
I don’t know if it was the wood-fired local curries or the endless, and often hilarious, conversations about life in Sri Lanka vs India that immediately drew me in. I came down with a flu and Zane went out of her way to find me a herbal cure. The curious locals in the nearby villages, basking in the winter sun by the gorgeous pool and the hikes we never went on (sniff) made me promise I’d come back and stay longer.
INR 4546 (US$ 67) per night; www.airbnb.com/arjuna
Also read: The Joy of Slow Travel
Airbnb Colombo: College House
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 like I was home in Colombo.
INR 2800 (US$ 40) per night; www.airbnb.com/valli
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.
Airbnb Hikkaduwa: Huma Terra
It’s one thing to indulge in luxury. Quite another to indulge in luxury that is handcrafted from scratch and 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 composting toilets was used to make manure for the lush organic rice paddies surrounding us – aka our input 😉
INR 7,000 (US$ 100) per night; www.airbnb.com/solange
Tip: Local food can be prepared if ordered in advance with the cook. The French / fusion food is not vegan-friendly unfortunately.
Yala National Park Airbnb: Gem River Edge
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 and gathering by night to swap wildlife tales over curries cooked on an open fire!
INR 2800 (US$ 40) per night; www.airbnb.com/ajith
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!
Airbnb Negombo: Villa Shade
I love hitting the countryside soon as I land in a country. For that reason, I love Negombo – 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 less for the bamboo forests I loved so much, I still appreciate its close-to-nature feeling. 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); www.airbnb.com/shiraj
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.
Airbnb Habarana: Galkadawala Forest Lodge (perhaps the best Sri Lanka Airbnb!)
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 surrounding Galkadawala Forest Lodge.
Our hostess Maulie 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.
I borrowed a sarong and joined the village women for a dip in the local tank. Hiked through mushy desert terrain. Kayaked in waters home to crocodiles! And caught a glimpse of wild elephants in Minneriya National Park.
Living off-the-grid, away from civilization as we know it, I think Maulie did more than create harmony. She created an abode to fall in love with raw wild nature again.
INR 4690 (US$ 69); www.airbnb.com/maulie
Also read: Galkadawala: Sri Lanka’s Best Kept Secret
Airbnb Kanya: Ambavillas, overlooking Victoria Lake in Digana (my favorite Sri Lanka Airbnb in the hill country)
Just when I thought Sri Lanka couldn’t surprise me anymore, my tuk tuk stopped at the unbelievably incredible home of Lotte and Shadwell.
Each morning, I woke up in my glass-walled
palace room to a 180-degree panorama of Victoria Lake and Knuckles Mountains! I joined my hosts to pick wild coffee beans on the countryside. Feasted on local and international (vegan) delights. Swapped travel tales and dark chocolate recipes. And left with the feeling that I was leaving behind friends I’ve known a long time… only to come back someday.
INR 7400 (US$ 110); www.airbnb.com/lotte
Have you found any incredible Sri Lanka Airbnb? 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 40$ off your first stay.