A Sri Lanka Uga Escape

Amy Batchelor, Personal Travel Expert at Kuoni at John Lewis Southampton, travelled to Sri Lanka with our hotel partner Uga Escapes to find out more about their unique luxury retreats.

My Sri Lankan journey with Uga Escapes took me to Uga Ulagala in Anuradhapura – the island’s cultural heart – and across to Uga Jungle Beach and Uga Bay on the East Coast before we travelled down to Yala National Park, home to the bucket-list-topping Chena Huts.

Uga Ulagalla

This bijou bolthole is wonderfully remote and surrounded by the wilderness landscapes of Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle, the home of enriching experiences. Individual pool villas are tucked away around the grounds, so I truly felt at one with nature and had absolute privacy with just a few monkeys as neighbours. The stunning main pool, the reception and the à la carte restaurant were only a short buggy away, but I really made the most of having my own bike (free to use for all guests). It gave me a chance to really explore Ulagalla – the monkey tree was by far my favourite spot. We were perfectly placed to head out on local explorations with highlights including an informative visit to Uga’s Elephant Research Centre, a sunrise hike to the top of Pidurangala Rock (complete with a more-than-worth-it 3.40am wake-up call!) and a sundowner by the rice paddies of Nachahaduwa.

Uga Jungle Beach

Next up was a barefoot hideaway near Trincomalee (nicknamed Trinco), a natural harbour over on the island’s east coast. As soon as you arrive, you’ll understand how this hotel got its name: it’s set between the emerald jungle and a glorious white-sand beach with very little else nearby. Blending in with nature is the true focus here. I found that Uga Jungle Beach makes the perfect place to rest a while between more full-on Sri Lankan adventures; it is also a great destination during the UK summer holidays as the east-coast weather is at its best during this period. The tone of my stay was set as soon as I arrived and was whisked off to breakfast – the Eggs Benedict, which was created with perfectly poached eggs, was delicious. Fuelled by a hearty morning meal, you could explore the local area on two wheels (bikes are available on request), head out whale- and dolphin-watching cruises or take a tour of Trico; alternatively, just retreat to the spa or cool off in the shaded pool.

Uga Bay

After our visit to Uga Jungle Beach, we began the drive southwards along the east coast to Passikudah and Uga Bay, a tropical beachfront masterpiece. Mesmerising tunnel views across the expansive pool towards the white-sand beach and Indian Ocean beyond make an instantaneous impact. My Ocean Studio was expansive in size and modern and I just loved the views of the water from my private balcony. The beach was beautiful, and stepping into the sea was like stepping into a bathtub. One of my favourite spots was the spa which had a wonderfully unique location under the main pool with porthole views across the ocean. Dinner at Uga Bay was a barbecue lover’s heaven. A yellow brick road in the sand lead to our private table which was set in the centre of the beach and surrounded by lights. The main course – lobster grilled to perfection and mouthwatering seared tuna – was my absolute favourite. 

Uga Chena Huts

They say that you should save the best until last, and boy did Uga Escapes deliver. Our final stay in Sri Lanka was at Uga Chena Huts. This oceanside sanctuary on the edge of Yala National Park had long held the number one spot on my hotel bucket list. My expectations were exceeded on all levels during my stay here and Cabin 19 left me speechless. It was furthest from the main reception, leaving me feeling like I was in a spacious oasis of luxury in the thick of the wilderness and I loved every second of it. Following our unforgettable game drive in the park, spotting elephants and tracking elusive leopards, we headed to the beach for sundowner drinks and shared safari stories before dining on a delicious bonfire beach dinner. I would highly recommend a stay at Chena Huts for anyone visiting Yala National Park, it blew me away and I am counting down the days until I can return.


To create your own tailor-made adventure in Sri Lanka with Uga Escapes, speak to a Personal Travel Expert or visit one of our stores

This feature was updated on 20th May 2024. The information within this feature is correct to the best of our knowledge at the time of print. 

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