UPDATED ON APRIL 20th 2022
Since 20th April 2022 there is no quarantine period for not-vaccinated travellers. The travellers who have not received COVID-19 vaccination nor completed the recommended doses of vaccination, must obtain a negative PCR test report within 72 hours or a Rapid Antigen Test report within 48 hours prior to embarkation. Children below 12 years are exempted.
If you come to Sri Lanka in the next weeks or months as unvaccinated (meaning the covid vaccination), you will have to book a so-called “Level 1 safe and secure hotel” upon your arrival. And because I was looking for a suitable Level 1 hotel for myself some time ago I´m going to share with you my experience where you can look for a Level 1 hotel as well as some tips on different types of Level 1 accommodation. Please, keep in mind that the situation changes very quickly and many of the hotels can give up on the Level 1 certification so always make sure they still do operate as level 1 while before you book it. My list of Level 1 hotels was much longer when I wrote it for the first time. After the update after a few months, I can´t even call it a list 🙂 Anyway, I hope it can help you a little bit to find a nice place to stay for the first week in Sri Lanka.
What are Level 1 hotels?
Level 1 hotels are specially certified hotels, where increased hygienic measures and other rules are applied. In the Level 1 hotel, you will undergo a PCR test and wait for its result. The hotel can also help you to arrange all other obligations (covid insurance, confirmation of a negative test result, transport from the airport – read more in the official guidelines). At present, there are about 80 certified Level 1 hotels of various categories from cheaper guesthouses to luxury five-star resorts.
How long do you have to stay at a Level 1 hotel?
According to the current rules (April 2022) you will have to spend here up to 8 days. After receiving the negative result of the first on arrival PCR test (you can undergo it both at the airport or in the hotel) you can use all the amenities of the hotel – pool, massages, yoga, beach, etc. and even travel with certified guides under so-called bio-bubble. But you can´t freely leave the hotel whenever you want so it is wise to choose a nice place where you can relax and will not only “survive” the quarantine. You can leave Level 1 hotel after receiving the negative result of the second PCR test made on day 7 after your arrival.
Where to find Level 1 hotels?
You can find a list of Level 1 hotels on the Sri Lanka Hello Again website at the very bottom. It is really just a list with the name of the hotel, address and contact. So you usually have no idea where it is located until you open its website. At the same time, it is not completely up-to-date because many hotels are giving up on Level 1 certification.
Much more user-friendly is this map of Level 1 hotels. You can see where the accommodation is located, so you can choose according to where you are heading. In addition, you can filter by category (guesthouse, villa, tourist hotel, etc.). Anyway, you will have to contact the hotel and make sure if it is still operating as Level 1.
You can also try Booking.com and enter “Level 1” when searching, or select the filter “Accommodation with additional health and safety measures”, however, not all Level 1 hotels are registered on Booking.com.
Last but not least, it is worth considering using the service of some of the local travel agents, who probably have the best overview of which hotels currently are or aren´t Level 1. Using a travel agent can be also useful because he/she can advise you on visas and help if any complications occur. You can find a list of them on the Hello Again website.
My recommendation for Level 1 hotels
Below you can see some recommendations for particular Level 1 hotels. I have included only those accommodations which seem interesting to me personally or which were recommended to me by other travellers in recent months. I focused especially on places for “budget travellers”. Of course, there are many more amazing places all over the islands including the luxury ones. I am sure everybody can find a perfect Level 1 accommodation fitting his or her needs.
Infinity of Sri Lanka
Payagala (Mount Lavinia), double rooms/triple rooms, 1,5 hours from the airport
This lovely hotel is located right on the beach and only 1,5 hours from the airport which makes it a perfect place where to spend your first week in “quarantine”. Actually, you will not feel quarantined at all. You can go to the beach, surf, swim in the swimming pool, enjoy cooking classes of traditional Srilankan meals or play volleyball. Or you can just relax and enjoy the sea view and the precious moments of “doing nothing”. You will be surprised that your week is over so quickly. This place was recommended to me multiple times and although I haven´t had a chance to visit it myself yet, I am quite sure this is a perfect choice. The communication with the Czech owners is very smooth and they will help you to arrange the transport and everything you will need. And the price is very budget-friendly as well. For me, Infinity Hotel would be the number one option.
Nos Da Ty
Ahangama – Kathaluwa, villa for up to 10 people but it is also possible to rent double rooms/triple rooms, 2,5 hours from the airport
If you are a group of friends or a bigger family, you will appreciate the possibility to rent the whole villa only for you. Nos Da Ty resort offers both hotel rooms and the villa certified as Level 1 in Ahangama area, a 2.5-hour drive from the airport. The villa is decorated in a Sri Lankan style and has a total of 5 bedrooms, all with AC and a private bathroom. The villa is located within one complex together with the hotel, which also has a swimming pool. I was not in the villa personally, but according to the reviews on Trip Advisor, the accommodation is very nice and the staff friendly.
Sat Nam Eco Village
Sigiriya – Habarana, for up to 7 people, 3 hours from the airport
Right in the heart of the so-called “cultural triangle”, in the area where the most famous and most visited Sri Lankan monuments are located, lies a beautiful small resort with bungalows Sat Nam Eco Village. It is the perfect starting point for those who want to visit the impressive Sigiriya Fortress, the Dambulla Rock Temple or the ancient city of Pollonaruwa after leaving the Level 1 hotel. At the moment you can choose from 3 bungalows (2 double, 1 triple), the resort has a swimming pool and restaurant. As a group you can rent the whole resort only for you. The communication with the cheerful Spanish owner is completely smooth and she is willing to give you all the necessary information.
Everybody will choose the right place to stay
The list of hotels recommended here is far from exhaustive. If none of my tips appeals to you, try to look in the list of Level 1 hotels, the offer is really wide and you can find very nice hotels. Always make sure that the hotel is still Level 1, as this can change quickly. I wish you good luck in choosing the right place and a pleasant stay in Sri Lanka.