Planning a trip to Sri Lanka? If so, we highly recommend staying at Cinnamon Hotels during your time in the country. Would you like to know why?
Between October and November 2018, we spent two weeks in Sri Lanka – amongst other things, we spent time on sunny beaches, went whale-watching, experienced a safari and visited two UNESCO-listed historical sites I wanted to see for most of my adult life, Sigiriya and the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy.
Our time in Sri Lanka was special for many reasons – first and foremost, because we were awarded first prize for Best Responsible Travel Blog at TBC Asia, a travel blogging conference organised by the PTBA (Professional Travel Blogger Association), Cinnamon Hotels and Sri Lankan Airlines.
Sri Lanka was also a place that we both had on our radar for ages, ever since I spent two years working for a Sri Lankan family when we were living in London. Even though our time in the country was relatively short, we managed to pack in plenty of activities and see a fair bit – but naturally, this meant changing hotels most nights!
We stayed at six different properties during our time in Sri Lanka, all belonging to the Cinnamon Hotels group. We were very impressed with our stays with Cinnamon, and we recommend considering choosing them as your accommodation provider if you are planning a trip to Sri Lanka.
Here we are going to share 8 reasons to stay at Cinnamon Hotels in Sri Lanka, plus a full rundown of all the Cinnamon Hotels we stayed at!
(Disclaimer – Our stay at the hotels mentioned in this article was sponsored by Cinnamon Hotels as part of our participation at TBC Asia, but I was under no obligation to write this article. I wrote it because I was impressed with our stays at Cinnamon Hotels around Sri Lanka).
Why Stay at Cinnamon Hotels in Sri Lanka?
1) Unique Properties
The thing I hate most about staying at hotels belonging to a chain is when they all look the same, regardless of where they are. For instance, we’ve stayed in various Ibis hotels over the years, in different countries and cities, and the rooms and common spaces were almost always the exact copy of one another.
This may be a plus for some, but not for us. We like character. We like unique places. And staying at Cinnamon Hotels all over Sri Lanka, we found both. All the properties we stayed at were very different from one another – unique hotels that blended with their surrounds, both in terms of architecture and decor.
For instance, the Cinnamon Grand in Colombo is a large city hotel, with business facilities, several restaurants and even an English pub, while Cinnamon Wild in Yala is a safari lodge overlooking a lake with crocodiles and buffalos bathing in the morning.
Cinnamon Lodge in Habarana is decorated in colonial style, with guest rooms located in detached houses, surrounded by secular trees and manicured lawns, while Hikka Tranz is a funky beach hotel, with contemporary art pieces on the walls.
2) Great Value for Money
We found value for money at Cinnamon Hotels all over Sri Lanka to be excellent. Room prices ranged from €60 to 120 at the Cinnamon Grand Colombo and Cinnamon Habarana Lodge, which was actually my favourite hotel in Sri Lanka – not bad considering that we’re talking about 4-5 star hotels!
The rooms we had were always bright and spacious, with comfy king-size beds or two queen beds, and most of the times we also had a view – over the coast and swimming pool in Cinnamon Bey Beruwala, over the Mahaveli River at Cinnamon Citadel Kandy, and over the lake in Colombo.
We were on a full-board basis at all the Cinnamon properties we stayed at, and we enjoyed our breakfasts, dinners and some lunches at the hotel buffets. I’m not normally a fan of buffets, but these were all absolutely excellent, including a vast selection of Sri Lankan and international specialties available for self service, as well as cooking stations – I loved starting my days with egg hoppers for breakfast!
Even when booked separately, meals at Cinnamon Hotels in Sri Lanka are great value for money. For instance, the dinner buffet at Taprobane restaurant in Colombo only comes up to about €17 – considering in includes items like imported cheese, which are notoriously pricey in Asia. It’s a great deal.
3) Excellent Service
Service is another strength of Cinnamon Hotels. Each and every guest is greeted upon arrival with a fresh cinnamon scented towel and a selection of welcome drinks. Staff often remembered our names and were always ready to greet us with a smile, which made us feel special, not just another guest.
Some may say ‘oh yes sure, but you were there as Cinnamon guests’ – but trust me, good service is hard to fake. And bad service is impossible to hide.
4) Perfect to Relax
Sadly, our Sri Lanka itinerary was packed and we didn’t have the chance to relax as much as we would have hoped. If you’re travelling to Sri Lanka and are planning to take it easy, fear not – there are plenty of places to relax in all Cinnamon Hotels.
All hotels we stayed at had a swimming pool – and I’m not talking about the murky affairs often found in hotels, basically glorified versions of bathtubs. The swimming pools we had were huge, spotlessly clean, and surrounded with umbrellas and sun loungers. The one at Cinnamon Citadel Kandy even had a view over the Mahaweli River.
All Cinnamon properties also have an in-house spa offering a range of treatments. At Cinnamon Lodge Habarana, I had a wonderful hour-long full body massage with a great Kerala therapist named Kevin. It was truly one of the best massages I’ve ever had and it made me feel refreshed after a week of non-stop travel.
5) Dining Experiences
Besides the buffets, all Cinnamon Hotels also offer the chance to enjoy unique dining experiences showcasing the best of Sri Lankan and international gastronomy.
In Colombo, Nuga Gama Restaurant aims to offer a ‘village dining’ experience, with outdoor seating surrounded by trees and cooking stations reminiscent of village huts. In Beruwala we enjoyed a seafood feast at Salt Rock Restaurant, including sushi served into carved ice drops and a seafood barbecue cooked by ourselves on a volcanic rock slab, while the following day we had local crab at Hikka Tranz, cooked Sri Lankan style with coconut milk and spices, and served with garlic rice.
Yet, my favourite dining experience of them all was the outdoor breakfast at Wild Yala. A table for us was set up on the edge of the lake, and we started the day toasting with Prosecco while looking at crocodiles basking, water buffaloes bathing and a dozen different bird species flitter all around. We half hoped elephants would show up, but it wasn’t meant to be!
6) Activities on Offer
Even if you don’t want to leave the hotel, there’s plenty to do around Cinnamon Hotels all over Sri Lanka. The two beach properties we stayed at, Cinnamon Bey Beruwala and Hikka Tranz, all offered a range of water activities – the latter even had a diving school on the premises.
In Yala, you could simply while away the day walking around the hotel lake, a great wildlife-spotting location, while at Cinnamon Lodge Habarana you could choose between birdwatching by the lake, visiting the hotel’s butterfly house or taking a cooking class with the chef, which included picking vegetables at the hotel’s very own organic veggie garden.
7) Nature Trails
Many Cinnamon Hotels in Sri Lanka are located near national parks or other natural points of interest, meaning you’ll have lots of opportunities to see animals in Sri Lanka! When this is the case, you’ll find signs in the hotel lobby advertising Nature Trails, Cinnamon’s very own nature tour company, offering safaris, whale-watching cruises and river tours in Kandy.
We had the chance to join two safaris with Nature Trails, at Lunugamvehera and Kaudulla National Parks, and a whale watching cruise in Mirissa. We were happy with all these experiences, and would wholeheartedly recommend them. Supporting responsible tourism operators is really important in Sri Lanka – read Jing’s guest post about her Yala National Park safari experience to know more!
To read more about our elephant safari adventure, check our Kaudulla National Park post!
8) Giving Back
Nature and wildlife is what draws many visitors to Sri Lanka, and Cinnamon Hotels are aware that conservation and working in close contact with local communities should always be a priority.
For this reason, the company is involved in conflict mitigation projects between wildlife and farmers – for instance, in the vicinity of Yala, cattle farmers are provided with portable fences to protect their animals from leopard attack, to prevent farmers from laying traps that may hurt the cats.
Cinnamon Hotels have also launched the first sustainable whale watching experience on the East coast of Sri Lanka, based out of their Trinco Blu by Cinnamon Hotel. These tours make use of silent engines to minimise disturbance to the whales, and employ local fishermen as drivers, guides and ‘spotters’ for the tours.
Cinnamon Hotels in Sri Lanka – Suggestions for the Future
As I said, we loved our stays at Cinnamon Hotels throughout Sri Lanka, and we were impressed with their sustainable efforts – but at the same time, we strongly believe that some more could be done.
The main criticism I have about Cinnamon Hotels concerns single use plastic. All hotel rooms we stayed at came with two sealed plastic water bottles, as well as a whole range of single-use toiletries.
During mealtimes, whenever we asked for ‘water’, a sealed water bottle was brought, even though purified water was also available – as we learned a couple of days into our trip, when we started asking for ‘jug water’. Sometimes, drinks were served with straws, but we did notice that a few hotels had a ‘no straw’ policy – straws are not given unless you ask specifically.
We would like to politely recommend Cinnamon Hotels to reconsider their single-plastic use throughout Sri Lanka. Install soap and shampoo dispenser in rooms, and instead of sealed plastic bottles, perhaps offer purified water in glass bottles to guests.
Cinnamon Hotels We Stayed at Around Sri Lanka
Cinnamon Grand Colombo – this is one of the most luxurious hotels in Colombo and a true ‘city within a city’, with over 500 rooms, 14 restaurants and bars and 10 meeting and event spaces. Interesting activities like village cooking experiences and nature walks in one of Colombo’s urban wetlands are also organized.
What we liked best – the village dinner at Nuga Gama restaurant!
Cinnamon Bey Beruwala – one of the largest resorts on Sri Lanka’s southern coast, with a Turkish vibe and lots of unique dining experiences (remember the ‘sushi on ice’ I was telling you about before?) Plus, the swimming pool is one of the largest and most beautiful I’ve ever seen!
What we liked best – the swimming pool at seafood feast at Rock Salt restaurant.
Hikka Tranz by Cinnamon – compared to the Beruwala hotel, which felt more extravagant, this hotel located in Hikkaduwa had a more quirky, hip vibe, with colourful art on the walls reminiscent of urban murals. The beach at this hotel was also stunning and there was a dive school on site.
What we liked best – the beach, of course!
Cinnamon Wild Yala – this hotel is reminiscent of an African safari lodge, with accommodation in individual bungalows and a large lake nearby perfect to observe wildlife at sunrise or sunset – treat yourself to a lakeside breakfast experience if you can! There’s also a stunning beach about 10 minutes walk from the hotel, but it was too rough to swim.
What we liked best – the lakeside breakfast experience.
Cinnamon Citadel Kandy – this hotel is located in a vantage position between the mountains and Mahaweli River, with great views from all the rooms. There are birdwatching tours on offer along the river, and the Knuckles Mountains are just a couple of hours from the hotel.
What we liked best – the view over the Mahaweli River from the swimming pool.
Cinnamon Lodge Habarana – let’s save the best for last, shall we? Cinnamon Lodge Habarana was our favourite hotel in Sri Lanka and we would highly recommend including it in your itinerary. The lodge was designed to resemble an ancient palace, and accommodation is in cottages, feeling secluded and immersed in nature.
The food at Cinnamon Lodge Habarana was always excellent, thanks to the fact that they grow many of their vegetables onsite and also make their own ice cream – and you can sample ALL FLAVOURS if you join the ice-cream tasting experience! This hotel was also the only one where I had a spa treatment, which was outstanding.
What we liked best – the ice cream tasting experience and spa treatment.