It gives me great pleasure to write my first “Great Hotels” post about the Nilaveli Beach hotel. This is where the sea is blue, the sand is white and the sun shines all day. We have been to Nilaveli Beach hotel five times over the last few years, which is a testament to how much I love it here.
So come, let me introduce you to one of my favorite hotels ever!
Location: Nilaveli Beach hotel is located on the East Coast of Sri Lanka, 10 miles north of the town of Trincomalee. It sits on the wide sandy Nilaveli Beach facing out to the Indian Ocean.
The Beach: This is my main reason for loving this hotel. Nilaveli Beach is a popular beach stretch on the East Coast of Sri Lanka, known for its large, white sandy beach and turquoise waters. The water is shallow and clam, making it ideal for bathing. The beach is wide and empty and there’s plenty of space to run around or if you fancy it, a game of frisbee, or the local favorite, cricket.
Hotel: The hotel comprises of 23 deluxe rooms and 22 standard rooms, so it is a not a large hotel. This is another reason why this is a favourite. With only 45 rooms, the hotel never feels crowded, even when full. The hotel grounds are not very large, but neat and tidy with many tropical trees providing plenty of shade. The hotel has direct access to the beach, with most of the rooms being less than a minute’s walk from the beach.
Rooms: Both standard and deluxe room all have hot water, air conditioning, fan and mini fridge. The deluxe rooms in addition have a TV, DVD player and a locker.
Food: Breakfast, lunch and dinner is usually served in the main restaurant. During peak season, the food is served as a buffet. There is a great selection available, including local and international cuisine. If you prefer to eat closer to the sea, the beach bar also serves lunch and dinner. (Although, do watch out for sand flies if you are here in the evening. You won’t feel the bites until the following morning, when they swell up – cover up and be liberal with the insect spray!) During the off peak season, food is served from the a la carte menu. The food here is sumptuous and caters to every palate. It sits among the very best food we’ve eaten in Sri Lanka (or anywhere for that matter), and I for one, always leave a a couple of kilos heavier than when I arrive.
Amenities: The hotel has a mid-sized pool with plenty of trees around for shade. There are also various games available, from badminton to chess. The hotel is also home to a PADI diving centre.
Website: Nilaveli Beach Hotel
Cost: Costs vary throughout the year, so this is only a ball park figure. Standard room at Nilaveli costs ~£115 per night for two including breakfast, with Deluxe room costing ~£150. (Prices checked 5 August 2016 on www.booking.com)
Things to do:
Snorkeling and Scuba diving: With the beach right on the door step, how can you not? The hotel is home to a PADI diving centre, from which you can hire equipment and even book some scuba lessons.
Visit Pigeon Island National Park: Pigeon island is a small island off the coast of Nilaveli and can be reached with a 10 minute boat ride from the hotel. It is a designated National Park, so you have to pay a small entry fee to get in. It’s home to some great marine life so it’s an ideal spot for Snorkelling or Scuba diving. If you prefer to keep your feet dry, you can explore the island with its tropical vegetation and secluded spots for bird watching, picnics and relaxing.
Visit Trincomalee: Trincomalee is a major town in the East of of Sri Lanka, a short drive from the hotel. It’s home to a natural harbour, one of the largest and the best sheltered in the world, which made it very attractive to one invading power after another during Sri Lanka’s colonial past. There is also “lover’s leap” which is a rock with a sheer drop of 360 feet into the crashing waves below affording great views. Next to Lovers leap is the imposing Tirukonesvaram Kovil which attracts devotees to its vibrant ceremonies.
Tips for Visiting
- When to go: Peak season for Nilaveli is from May to early September. This is the dry season, when the sea is at its best. However, peak season means high prices and more crowds. Specially in April and August, when Sri Lankan kids have their school holidays. Off-peak season is November to February (exception being the Christmas and New Year holiday period). However be weary of going during the off-peak season, as the sea tends to be rougher, and the rough sea is more likely to bring along lots of jelly fish to the shallow waters. The diving centre is usually closed in the off-peak season. My favorite time to go is the shoulder seasons of March/April or September/October. It costs less. It’s quieter, and you can still enjoy the sea.
- Rooms: Even if they cost a little more, I prefer the deluxe rooms as they are more spacious and have better sea views. Ask for a room away from the main building for extra peace and quiet.
- Go half-board: Whenever we stay we book the hotel at half-board rates, which means the price you pay includes breakfast and dinner (drinks not included). We find this to be good value for money. You can pay full-board which includes breakfast, lunch and dinner, but we find that its better to pay as you go for lunch. You might be out on a day trip, in which case you can find somewhere outside to eat. Plus with a massive breakfast and enormous dinner it really is quite difficult to fit in a big lunch.
- Monkeys: Like most places you go in Sri Lanka, expect to see some Gray Languar monkeys hanging around the hotel grounds. They are pretty harmless, so leave them alone and they will reciprocate.
A typical lazy day for us at Nilaveli starts with a morning swim, followed by a hearty breakfast. After we’ve eaten way too much, it is then time to relax with a book – either in one of the many hammocks in the grounds, or on one of the beach lounges, or in the patio of our own room. Late morning, we’d go for a swim in the sea. Without knowing, lunch rolls on – The devilled prawn with rice from the beach bar is to die for. After eating too much (again!) it is time for an afternoon snooze or a read. When the sun subsides in the late afternoon, it is an ideal time for a swim in the sea and for some games on the beach. Dinner is another sumptuous affair, preceded by pre-dinner drinks at the beach bar.
Nilaveli beach hotel won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. If you are fan of big resorts, with lots to see and do then I would not advise going there. But if you are after a little slice of paradise, great food, a quite corner to relax and re-charge then I cannot recommend this place enough.
About Great Hotels: As a rule, I try to avoid staying in the same hotel twice when I travel – I like to experience different hotels. But, every now and then, I come across a hotel for which I would happily break this rule. Some are well known hotels, topping best hotel lists on every travel website, some are hidden gems. Either way, these hotels have made it to this list because of something special – location, architecture, food, service or a combination of any of these things. I started this series of “Great Hotels” posts to share my findings with you. I only blog about a hotel if I truly like them and have no affiliations with any of the hotels in these posts.
This post is a part of #wkendtravelinspiration on 28th October 2016