7 Best Colombo Excursions, Sri Lanka Tourism, 10 Must-Visit Cities in Sri Lanka

WHERE TO STAY IN COLOMBO / BEST AREA IN COLOMBO TO STAY

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Where to stay in Colombo for 1 night is the main topic of this blog post. I believe you are also looking for the best area in Colombo to stay as you plan a future tour to Sri Lanka, after all, that’s why you have stumbled upon this post. In this guide, you will get valuable information on 2 places to stay in Colombo. And also we discuss 1 beach resort near Colombo because it provides easy access to the airport as well as more affordable options compared to Colombo.

With regard to your question WHERE TO STAY IN COLOMBO FOR 1 NIGHT, My answer is,

  • Option 1: NEGOMBO (20 minutes drive from the airport)
  • Option 2: COLOMBO 2 (1-hour drive from the airport)
  • Option 3: COLOMBO 4 AND 6 (1 hour 20 minutes drive from the airport)

Where to stay in Colombo for 1 night is a difficult question to answer because there are so many places (provinces) that you can consider staying in Colombo. However, if you are more specific with your question and give a hint of your main requirement to stay in Colombo, it is easy to find the best area in Colombo to stay in. E.g if you plan to visit Sri Lanka on a short trip due to some business meeting in Colombo, the best area to stay in Colombo is the fort area better known as Colombo 1, which is located at the heart of Colombo. If you like to stay in Colombo but still like to be away from the hustle and bustle, the best area in Colombo to stay is Mt.lavinia, where you get a large number of beachfront hotels for a leisurely and peaceful stay.

I would like to recommend you a hotel along the west coast of Sri Lanka starting from Negombo to Colombo south. Any hotel that is located between Colombo and Negombo is a good viable option for you because they are easy to reach from Colombo airport. Sri Lankan beaches on this stretch are very popular among travellers, who visit Sri Lanka on short trips, such as 1 day Sri Lanka trips or 2 day Sri Lanka trips.

However, I’m not going to discuss overpriced accommodation facilities in this post. A nice hotel should be reasonably priced, provide easy access to public transport, close to tourist attractions, and should have good reviews. Find some great tips in this post about “Where to stay in Colombo for 1 night”.

On this 7-day Sri Lanka private trip you will be visiting ancient monuments in the cultural triangle, tea country, Spice and herbal garden, wildlife reserve, botanic gardens, Idyllic west coast beaches, plus enjoy a breath-taking view on the hill country rail journey from Peradeniya to Nanuoya, learn to cook a Sri Lanka meal and many more. Towards the end of the trip, you will have time to relax on the pristine beaches of Sri Lanka’s west coast.

What is the best area in Colombo to stay with easy access to the airport?

If you are a foreigner that looks for a place to stay for 1 night in Sri Lanka you might be wondering, why I have recommended Negombo instead of Colombo; because Negombo beach is not in Colombo. In fact, Negombo is well over 35 km from Colombo. You are correct, Negombo is not in Colombo but I recommend you Negombo because of a few reasons, as below  

  • Negombo beach resort is much closer to the Colombo airport than Colombo city (this is a fact that most travellers are not aware of)
  • Negombo provides much greater options with regards to accommodation compared to Colombo
  • Room rates in Negombo are about 25% lower than the rates of Colombo hotels.

If you want to stay in Colombo for 1 night and like to have peace of mind (away from hustle and bustle), while staying in a comfortable hotel, forget about Colombo and head on to Negombo. However, this recommendation is valid for travellers, who land at the international airport of Colombo.  

Usually, 99 per cent of traveller lands at the airport of Colombo or Bandaranayke international airport. Even though it is called Colombo international airport, it is not in Colombo, it is about 35 km away from Colombo and you need to make around a 1-hour journey to reach Colombo from the airport. That’s why I have recommended Negombo for your 1-night stay instead of Colombo if you do not have a particular reason to show up in Colombo.  

Negombo is the closest beachfront resort to Colombo international airport with only a 10 km distance and it takes only 15 minutes to reach your hotel in Negombo.

What are the benefits of staying in Negombo near Colombo airport?

  • Save time on travelling
  • Save money on room rates
  • Have leisure on the beach
  • Swimming in the sea
  • Calm and quiet atmosphere
  • Many water sports activities that Colombo does not offer

Reaching Negombo is far easy and it takes only 15 minutes from the airport.  Negombo is one of the best beaches on the island and you get plenty of accommodation options for your 1-night stay in Sri Lanka.

It is a nice beach resort with wide sandy beaches. You will find a large number of beachfront hotels, restaurants, pubs, bars, cafes and interesting places that are concentrated in Negombo. If you head to the international airport again on the next day, your departure transfer will be much easier from Negombo.  

Perhaps you are in transit and waiting for your next flight if you do not know where to go for your overnight stay my recommendation is Negombo. Being the closest resort to the airport most hotels in Negombo provide a special discounted rate (this package is not available in Colombo hotels) for travellers, who need a room only to sleep. The rate of the package is about 50% lower than the usual rate; however, it includes breakfast too.  

So, make sure you consider spending your night in Negombo and relaxing on the pristine beaches while avoiding buying a noisy city. Thereby you can also save a lot of money and have more rest because it takes on 15 minutes to reach the airport from your hotel.

The Negombo beach resort is far away from the main roads; bus stations and train stations mean it is very calm and quiet here. Usually, there are many foreign travellers here and hotels are providing very comfortable accommodation and make sure the safety of their guests.  

Postal regions and divisions of Colombo in a nutshell

Colombo is divided into 15 postal codes, Colombo 1 to 15; these zones have clear demarcations giving easy identification for administration purposes. However, it might be a daunting task for travellers to identify the different zones and it is difficult to even for most city dwellers.

So the question is in which are postal areas that you find accommodation for your 1-night stay?

Fortunately, you do not need to be bothered about it, because we are discussing mainly Colombo 2, Colombo 3, Colombo 4 and Colombo 6 in this post and they are conveniently located along the main road bordering the Indian Ocean.  The ocean is the most prominent landmark to find those localities. Therefore it is easy to locate them.

There are so many other areas, where you can find a place to stay, however, most of them are not known to the mass unless you have direct contact with those properties.

For your question “Where to stay in Colombo for 1 night”, my first answer is Colombo 2.

This is one of the busiest localities in the city and there is a large concentration of hotels in the area. The most popular star-class hotels are located in Colombo 2 as well as many important tourist attractions are also scattered around Colombo 2. Big players in the hospitality industry such as Shangri La have their branches here. So if you are a traveller, who looks for high-end luxury properties, this is the place for you.

The most prominent landmark in Colombo 2 is the gall face green, which is an open area for leisure activities. Galle green is open to the ocean on one side and on the other side is the Gale-Colombo main road. As you can see on the map it is just a narrow strip of land adjoining the Ocean. The majority of hotels are located along Galle road and it is very easy to find them.

Colombo 2 is the best neighbourhood for travellers who are interested in discovering the real Colombo. But the disadvantage is the high room rates. Colombo 2 also holds the timeless charm of Colombo, while buzzing with a live array of museums, galleries, casinos, nightclubs, restaurants, cinemas; banks, airline offices, and most other recreation centres in Colombo, most of them are walking distance away from Colombo 2.

Cost of accommodation and food: $$ — a good ratio between rates and quality and our winner.

Top sights in Colombo 2 and surrounding areas: Gangarama temple, Galle face green, Beira lake old parliament, Pettah, Independent square, Viharamahadevi, Museum.

You may have seen some beautiful and romantic pictures of Sri Lanka. They appear to be very beautiful and tempt you to travel to see those places. The images you’ve seen, we can certainly vouch for, and you’ll have no trouble finding the surrounding area.

Which hotels are reasonably priced in Colombo 2? For example, there is a long list of hotels in Colombo, and I have mentioned a few names here. The average price is about $150 USD per night.

For my first stay in Colombo, I would choose the Galle face hotel, and if the Galle face is not available I would go for the Galadari hotel.

Why these hotels? Both hotels are centrally located in Colombo 2 giving easy access to the most interesting tourist attractions, and most importantly you get value for money.

Best area in Colombo to stay: Colombo 2

  • Shangri La Hotel -5-star
  • Hilton Hotel -5-star
  • Galadari Hotel -5-star
  • Hotel Kingsbury-5-star
  • Ramada Hotel-4-star
  • Cinnamon Grand Hotel -5-star
  • Cinnamon Lake Hotel -5-star
  • Fairway Colombo -4-star
  • Cinnamon red -4-star
  • Wonder hotel-4 star
  • The Steuart by Citrus -4-star
  • Mandarina Colombo -4-star
  • Mövenpick Hotel -4-star
  • Yoho Colombo City Hotel-3star
  • Grand Oriental hotel -4 star
  • Galle Face Hotel -5-star

How to get to Colombo 2 from Colombo airport?

From Colombo international airport take the Colombo-bound bus, which takes you to Fort’s main bus stations. Take TUK TUk or a three-wheeler from Pettah bus station to reach your hotel, in it is only 5 minutes away from Tuk Tuk, and it would cost you around 3$ USD per drive. If you don’t have heavy luggage you can even have a walk to the hotel it is about 10 minutes walk away.

If you have extra-large luggage you might not be able to travel by public buses, because they have no room in the luggage compartment. In that kind of situation, you have to opt to travel by taxi and that can be booked through an agent. A one-way trip to Colombo 2 from the airport cost between $20-30 USD (inclusive of all taxes and highway toll) based on the vehicle.  

Where to eat

Rajabojun, a nice cosy local restaurant near Colombo 2, provides a large number of various local items in a busy-styled setup. They give priority to local food items and are an ideal place for foreigners to feast on local delicacies.

Like to do some shopping?

Uptown Kandy is a shopping mall with hundreds of stalls selling various items such as clothing, jewellery, electronic equipment, and leather items. It is just walking distance away from most hotels in Colombo. Uptown Kandy is located in Colombo 3, one of the trendiest localities in Colombo. Colombo 3 is very popular among the Sri Lankans, where they come to eat, drink and shop.

Pettah is the best area in Colombo to say, which is also the place where the central market I located. Travellers can find a large number of hotels and shopping areas in Pettah.

I need to find affordable accommodation for a 1-night stay in Colombo.

If you look for an affordable place to stay in Colombo, your best bet is Colombo 4 and 6, the area known as marine drive, which is also located bordering the Ocean, the area marked in green on the map. Most hotels in Colombo 2 are overpriced, but in Colombo 4 and 6 you have a better chance of finding affordable accommodation facilities.  

 Here you find many dozens of hotels, guest houses and other r types of affordable accommodations such as dormitories. Same time you get here a couple of 4-star hotels but however, but you do not find a high-end luxury hotel nearby. The number of hotels is not as great as in Colombo 2.

Most tourist attractions such as temples, historical monuments, and shopping areas are located near Colombo 2 and the Pettah area. Therefore the travellers, who stay in marine drive, need to travel about 7 km in order to visit important places in the city. However, the travellers also opt to have a walk along the beach, which takes around 30 minutes.

However, you find several upscale shops, which lay along the bustling Galle-Colombo main road, theme restaurants, and rich colonial mansions a few kilometres away from the marine drive.

Which hotels are reasonably priced in Colombo 4 and 6? For example, there is a long list of hotels in Colombo 4 and 6, and I have mentioned a few names here. The average price is about $100 USD per night.

For my first stay in Colombo, I would choose hotel mirage, and if the Mirage hotel is not available I would go for The Ocean.

Why these hotels? Both hotels are picturesquely located near the Ocean and most importantly you get the best value for money.

Best areas in Colombo to stay: Colombo 4 and 6

  • Hotel Mirage -4-star
  • Marino beach -5-star
  • The Ocean front -3-star
  • Sai city hotel -2-star
  • Global towers Hotel -3-star
  • OZO Colombo -4-star
  • Fair view hotel-3 star
  • A-One Hotel – “The Marine”-3 star
  • Hotel Janaki 3 star
  • ME-Colombo -4-star

How to get to Colombo 4 and 6 from Colombo airports?

From Colombo international airport take the Colombo bound bus, which takes you to Fort’s main bus stations. Take TUK TUk or a three-wheeler from the Pettah bus station to reach your hotel, in it is only 5 minutes away by TUK TUK, and it would cost you around $5 USD per drive.

If you have extra-large luggage you might not be able to travel by public buses, because they have no room in the luggage compartment. In that kind of situation, you have to opt to travel by taxi and that can be booked through an agent. A one-way trip to Colombo 4 and 6 from the airport cost between $20-30 USD (inclusive of all taxes and highway toll) based on the vehicle.  

Where to eat

There are many fine dining possibilities near Colombo 4 and 6 but if you would like to go for a much cheaper option, the majestic food court is a good option for you. It is just a few hundred meters away from most hotels on Marine drive and offers many food varieties at an affordable rate.  Perhaps after dining you can check the shopping area of Majestic city shopping mall. Here you find various items such as clothing, electronic equipment and perfumeries in all popular brands and at varying prices.

Exploring the beaches is unquestionably something you should do in this location because you have the opportunity to visit one of the best beaches on the west coast. Beach is wide, calm and clean, however not recommended to swim.

Shopping in Sri Lanka, Colombo

The majestic city shopping mall is just walking distance away from your hotel and there are many other shops in the area selling all kinds of branded clothing, Gems and Jewellery, and other items.

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