PRICE: Worth maxing out for
Chena Huts at Sri Lanka’s Yala National Park is one of our top picks. It has recently opened and is the latest member of the estimable Uga Escapes group’s world-renowned portfolio of luxury boutique hotels.
Located on the boundary of Yala, Uga Chena Huts also sports a truly awesome oceanfront position (but don’t come here expecting to swim or sunbathe on the beach – you’ll be sharing it with the buffalo!).
Everything about this Yala National Park accommodation choice is superb. The food in the air-conditioned Chena Huts restaurant is excellent and drinks at the sunken bar in the evening are a delight, with the sound of the crashing waves providing the soundtrack. You’ll almost certainly see a curious wild pig or water buffalo approach the raised deck whilst you are relaxing with drink in hand.
Each of the 14 ‘huts’ – they’re distinctive shaggily thatched domes, like a tropical Hobbit house – is in truth a luxurious, detached, private pavilion. Much thought went into the creative process – the oversized lampshades, exquisite wildlife photography adorning the walls and the soft daybed – all come together in perfect harmony to create a cosseted and intimate environment that is distinctively Chena Huts Yala National Park.
All the Chena Huts are uniform in size, with huge beds, bathrooms and living areas. But the piece de resistance is the private deck with plunge pool overlooking the bush (or in the case of two huts, the ocean). In the evening, with the deck lights on, you’ll feel like you are immersed not just in your plunge pool but nature itself as various animals come and go on their nocturnal routines.
If the budget allows, the two Chena Huts villas with sea views are the best of all worlds.
On your doorstep
Drag yourself out of your air-conditioned Chena Hut and hit the park for sunrise. It’s a magical awakening and we were lucky enough to spot an elusive sloth bear as our reward.