24th May 2017

Family Friendly Hotels of Sri Lanka

Author:V Bansal

The Why House near Galle is an awesome hotel for families. Located on the Galle coast close to numerous outdoor activities that children of all ages will love. The team here really engage with the little ones and go out of their way to ensure that families are understood, gauging what they need at every opportunity. Children’s facilities include extra beds, baby cots, and high chairs.
The two Main House Suites are extremely spacious and have anterooms which can sleep children though there are interior doors that can be closed for privacy. Rooms in the Garden House interconnect, and the cabanas are fun and adventurous rooms for teens. The hotel is building two more rooms and these too will interconnect.

The three-acre gardens are great for roaming children and the pool is good for little paddlers while games such as badminton, volleyball, and cricket can be played on the lawn.

There’s a children’s menu and meals can also be customised for little tastes. Pasta sauces are served separately so children can add their own while Baboo’s pancakes are legendary. The kitchen team is very aware of different dietary needs, and they have all been trained to understand the importance of this with small children.

The central restaurant is within baby monitor’s reach of the main house and the garden house, and nannies and babysitters can also be arranged very easily for a small extra cost. The staff team themselves are superb with children, especially Baboo!

The nearest beach – Dalawella – is fantastic for families, and is just a two-minute tuk-tuk ride away so it’s easy to come back to the hotel for a rest, and the hotel offers shuttles.

As for things to do nearby, these include whale and dolphin watching, surfing, body boarding, diving, snorkeling, guided bicycle rides, hosted walking tours, visits to tea and cinnamon estates, and day trips to Udawalawe National Park – a top place for seeing wild elephants.

The hotel can also be rented exclusively and is superb for multigenerational family groups.

The Living Heritage, Kosalanda is another superb hotel for families. It promises adventure and has plenty of appeal. Wildlife resides in the garden and from May to September elephants may sometimes be spotted roaming the nearby forest where there are river walks and a secluded waterfall.

If staying in a Luxury Villa Suite, children can share their parents’ room, and for slightly older children, beds can set up in the courtyards of these rooms. These are located on the outside veranda and the main bedroom and can be locked to the outside. They already have daybeds in them and these can be made up as proper beds. It’s the ideal set up for families with older children as they are right next to the bedroom but in their own area – and the children get the added excitement of being in a partially open courtyard. The villas also interconnect so families could take over one, two or all three of the villas for privacy.

What can kids do here? Kids could roast marshmallows over a fire, trek easy trails through a forest loaded with wildlife, take a Sri Lankan cooking class, do some gentle canyoning, river walk, swim in a waterfall, play croquet on the lawn, make Vesak lanterns, pick and dry organic pepper, plant trees and go on scenic river picnics.

Although Noel Rodrigo’s Leopard Safaris at Yala National Park generally only permits children over three years old to stay at their camps, they sometimes can make exceptions in low season and they do offer plenty of facilities for families. These include three family tents, which have two bedrooms and a communal living area, and chefs who are happy to customise meals for tiny taste buds. The standard double tents can fit extra beds as can the two air-conditioned Luxury Lodge Tents.

Aside from the excitement of sleeping under canvas and partaking in game drives, with the chance to see leopards, elephants, bears, crocodiles, monkeys and many bird species, the team has also conceived a number of activities to keep children amused for the remainder of the day. These include animal footprint identification games, amateur photography, guided nature walks, tree planting and wildlife art classes. Every child is given a ‘junior ranger’ activity book with wildlife questions and riddles. If a handful of children are staying at the camp, the team put on special nature projects. A recent one of these was the creation of an insect hotel! There is no better way for children to learn about nature and wildlife.

The campsite at Yala now has an eco-pool and there are seat belts in all of their jeeps.

Taylors Hill, Deltota, near Kandy has expansive grounds and superb indoor facilities making this boutique hotel a real winner for families, as do the walks, bicycle rides and tea estate visits in its surroundings.

The house has five guestrooms, one of which is a king-sized bedroom with an anteroom with twin beds. In some of the other rooms, extra beds can be added while baby cots are also available. The hotel also has changing mats, books, and board games while babysitting can be done by the hotel’s senior staff if required.

Bespoke children’s meals can be arranged – the hotel team is flexible in meeting all needs. The kitchen has a blender for preparing infant meals and bottle heating facilities.

Aside from the homely living and dining areas, there is a children’s playroom (with Astroturf flooring, Lego, beanbags and board games), a snooker room and a TV Room (with DVD player and selection of movies). Outside, the gardens comprise expansive lawns fringed by borders of flowers, and here you’ll find a swimming pool (with stunning views), a clay tennis court, badminton net, footballs, rugby balls and cricket equipment. There are also bicycles that guests can use to independently explore their surroundings, or with a guide.

The Last House, Mawella, near Tangalle
A beautiful house on Mawella Beach, on Sri Lanka’s southern coast that’s ideal for one or more families travelling together. The house has four bookable rooms, and this includes the Cinnamon Suite on the first floor which comprises one double bedroom and two twin bedrooms (although one of these is rather small and would also suit a nanny). All rooms have ceiling fans as opposed to air conditioning as their design lets the cooling breezes circulate.

The house is equipped with baby cots, extra beds in certain rooms, a changing mat, plastic cutlery, board games, books, badminton, cricket bats, bicycles and inflatable children’s armbands. The kitchen can craft bespoke children’s meals with requirements discussed upon arrival. Kids under four dine for free and there is a 50 percent discount on food for children aged four to 12. Babysitting can be organized through the hotel’s senior staff if required.

The Wallawwa, Kotugoda, near Negombo
For your first or last few nights in Sri Lanka, The Wallawwa can’t be beaten. It’s just 15-20 minutes from the international airport and is a complete haven from the outside world. The lush 200-year-old gardens come complete with expansive lawns and a wonderful pool. The neighbouring fresh produce garden is full of pineapples and other exotic fruit and vegetables, and garden manager Nihal will love taking little ones on special garden tours.

The hotel’s room setup works for families. There are a couple of family suites (with king beds and twin beds) as well as the Mountbatten Suite, a big spacious two-bedroom, two-bathroom suite with a private garden and plunge pool. Children’s room facilities include extra beds, baby cots, and mosquito nets, and the hotel has a selection of indoor and outdoor games.

The restaurant is geared up for families too and offers a children’s menu as well as high chairs and plastic cutlery.

On-site activities include cricket and croquet in the garden and kite making classes. Further afield, there’s Negombo Beach and vibrant fish market, kayaking on the Negombo Lagoon, day trips to Colombo for sightseeing and hosted walks, and visits to ancient temples.

Fort Bazaar, Galle Fort
Fort Bazaar is located right in the heart of the fort and is walking distance from many historic sights and museums, from the fort ramparts and the town’s international test cricket ground.

It’s a great choice for families as the hotel has a few interconnecting rooms plus one very spacious Upper Family Suite consisting of a king-sized bedroom with walk-through dressing area and bathroom, and a mezzanine floor with twin beds for sleeping children. Facilities include extra beds, baby cots, mosquito nets, high chairs and children’s games (cards, board games etc.). The hotel can arrange babysitting on request for a small extra cost.

The restaurant serves Middle Eastern inspired dishes yet has a dedicated children’s menu with dishes such as meatballs, burgers, and pasta.

A cinema room at the hotel will open soon, however in the meantime activities include Galle Fort hosted walks, guided bicycle rides inland, beaches, whale and dolphin watching, visits to cinnamon and tea estates, diving, surfing, and snorkeling, plus mask making in Galle Fort.

Camellia Hills, Castlereagh Reservoir
Our newest hill country member, Camellia Hills, is a five-bedroom bungalow on the edge of the Castlereagh Valley, near Dickoya and Hatton, with incredible lake and valley views. This is the place to stay to enjoy family walks through tea estates, to waterfalls, scenic picnics and also visits to local tea factories to see how tea is produced – children will love it.

The bungalow has a very homely feel and all bedrooms are individually designed. Extra beds can be furnished in each bedroom, as well as baby cots, however, the two-bedroom Dickoya Suite has been designed for families. It has an entrance passageway off which there are a spacious king-sized bedroom and a smaller single bedroom with pull-out trundle bed. The bedrooms are also connected through a central bathroom. Families with older children could also look at booking either Osbourne or Norton in combination with Maskeliya (the bungalow’s only twin room), which are located opposite one another across the central corridor. Babysitters can be arranged upon request and at a small extra cost.

A children’s menu is currently being developed but due to the nature of the bungalow-hotel, meals can always be customised, and all food and drinks are included in the daily rate.

Within the bungalow are children’s games (such as cards and board games) while outside is a 10-meter swimming pool in a lush tropical garden.

Aside from the above-mentioned activities, the hotel is also researching some more specific children’s activities.

Kumu Beach, Balapitiya
A new boutique hotel on the west coast of the island, at Balapitiya Beach, within reach of Hikkaduwa’s surfing and marine park, and Bentota’s water sports. The hotel is great for families with children of all ages though note that the very spacious Oceanview Suites are split level, which doesn’t make them ideal for very young children, though the Oceanview Rooms are perfect. For families with teens, they could book one of the Kumu Bedrooms along with an upper floor Oceanview Room as they are located off the same upper corridor.

Children’s facilities include extra beds, baby cots, mosquito nets and high chairs. A children’s menu is currently being developed with a snacks menu currently available.

The hotel’s big garden has a long swimming pool while Balapitiya Beach is a sandy stretch – ideal for sandcastle-making. Local activities include crafting masks at Ambalangoda’s mask museum, visiting turtle hatcheries or feeding turtles off Hikkaduwa Beach, and boat trips to see wildlife and visit spice islands on the Madu Ganga river estuary. Bentota’s water sports include banana boating, jet skiing, water skiing and donut rides.

Maniumpathy, Colombo
Although the hotel doesn’t accept children younger than six years old, this is still a good hotel for families travelling with more independent children. Many of the rooms can accommodate an extra bed and there is one room with a mezzanine floor sofa bed that can sleep up to four. Children aged up to 12 years can enjoy 50 percent discounts on food when dining at the hotel. Facilities include televisions in all rooms, and there’s a small courtyard lap pool.

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