It is a challenge for any large beach hotel to achieve a 5-star reputation, but Cinnamon Bentota Beach’s confident reinvention suggests such aspirations can be met. When its foundation stone was first laid in 1967, Sri Lanka’s tourism industry was in its infancy and it stood, peerless, in one of the finest coastal settings in the country, with Bentota’s broad, sandy beach on one side and the beautiful Bentota river on another. More than half-a-century later, there is much to admire in an ambitious rebuild which enhances the legacy left by Sri Lanka’s most renowned architects, Geoffrey Bawa. In an impressive reinvention by Bawa’s best-known protégé, Channa Daswatte, the famous mirror pool remains alongside the lobby area, as does a third remake of the ceiling batik which is restored to its former glory and the imposing stone entrance which harks back to the days of the Bentota Fort. The appealingly light bar and lounge area is particularly inviting with large picture windows allowing helping to maximise light as well as offering great views of Bentota River. This property is certain to become the flagship of the Cinnamon Group and will help to remind people that, although the Galle Coast is all the rage, the West Coast, a short drive away, still has so much to offer.
There are 159 rooms in three wings. The West Wing (89) which runs parallel to the beach, and the South Wing (54) are newly-built wings which blend seamlessly with the renovated older part of the hotel. The Heritage Wing (16),houses a selection of Suites on the upper floors of this surviving section. All rooms can sleep at least three adults apart from the Junior Suite and are of excellent size, ranging from 47 sq m to 132 sq m. Room categories are:
West wing: Luxury beach Access (27),Luxury Ocean View (62). All rooms 53 sq m.
South wing: Premium Terrace (36),Premium Pool Access (18). All rooms 53 sq m.
Heritage wing: Junior Suite (01, 47 sq m) Premium Suite (06, 64 sq m) Deluxe Suite (07, 88 sq m),Deluxe Ocean View Suite (01, 96 sq m),Geoffrey Bawa Luxury Suite (01, 132 sq m).
In-room facilities include: Balcony or terrace, king-sized bed and additional bed if required, hairdryer, bathrobe and slippers, sofa or armchair, TV, DVD player, radio, ceiling fan and a/c, bathtub and shower, fire protection, tea/coffee facilities, fridge, safe, minibar, ironing board.
There are two restaurants which blend indoors and out in classical Sri Lankan fashion. The main restaurant serves breakfast buffets Western-style or offers South Asian and Chinese food stations. It again divides into two areas in the evening, one specialising in Italian dishes, the second offering a mix of Indian, Sri Lankan and Chinese fare. There is also a separate fish restaurant with a relaxed, outdoor feel and its own arrack bar. The original swimming pool has been enhanced with a children’s pool and a second pool alongside. There is a well-equipped gymnasium and spa and, if you don’t fancy that there is no better beach in Sri Lanka to jog on at the beginning or end of the day. Sri Lanka’s artistic heritage is never far away. The sun-bright L-shaped bar and lounge is a relaxing spot, despite its size, and has remakes of paintings initially ordained by Bawa. The route from the lounge bar to the restaurants leads the guest via an art gallery and museum. Adjacent to the hotel is a watersports centre (also open to non-guests) which makes full use of the river’s broad expanses, offering sailing lessons catamaran hire with full crew, jet boating, windsurfing, paragliding and more. The children’s indoor play area is one of the best on the island. The Checkout Room is the most modern flourish and might be Daswatte’s homage to Buddhist meditation.
Why We Like It
The extensive rebuild has taken Bentota Beach Hotel to a new level
Cinnamon Bentota Beach has an unsurpassed position between the broad expanses of the Bentota River which flows down one side of the property and the broad, sandy beach itself. This popular West Coast resort is about two hours from the airport.
Location: Bentota, West Coast
Style: Beach Property
No. of Rooms: 159
Key Features: Unique beach and river setting; water-sports; enormous swimming pool