Tailormade Tours - Sri Lanka

Colombo, Sri Lanka

Specialist operator who can create customised itineraries to cater to your personal travel dreams
Sri Lanka is known for its warm hospitality, fabulous food, vibrant culture and ancient history; its unspoilt beaches and its verdant forests. It's teeming with birdlife and exotic animals, from elephants to the elusive leopard, and for those who want to beat the heat, the hill country's tea plantations and waterfalls offer a cool respite.

However, the prospect of getting around this fascinating island on your own can be daunting: roads are chaotic, journeys slow, road signs rare. So for those who of you who prefer to have everything arranged for you but don't want to feel part of a package tour, we've teamed up with Columbus Travel, a Colombo-based operator who have been operating bespoke tours in Sri Lanka for the past 23 years, and whom we have used for our own trips there. They are a niche market operator with excellent consultants and English-speaking staff.

Besides suggesting the best itineraries to cover the country's many highlights, and selecting the most charming and stylish accommodation (including those featured on i-escape), they can arrange private transfers and book specialist guided tours. These range from providing a glimpse into 2,000 year old Buddhist culture, to sampling a drink of broken orange pekkoe in a hilltop tea planter's bungalow, or viewing ruined ancient cities by hot air balloon at sunrise.

Why we chose this partner

  • They are on-the-ground operators so can provide up-to-the-minute advice
  • Breadth of local knowledge and honest, professional answers to all enquiries
  • They work with Sri Lanka's best hotels and can offer a cool range of accommodation: designer boutique hotels, colonial mansions, beach properties and treehouses
  • They can arrange unusual activities; including festivities of Kandy, swimming with dolphins and white-water rafting
  • They've arranged trips for people in-house, and we've always been very pleased with them
  • They can also book flights from Sri Lanka to the Maldives (just 1 hour away) and offer a choice of accommodation, from budget resorts up to once-in-a-lifetime indulgences. a few nights could be the perfect end to your trip, or treat yourself to a week there if you can afford it

Please be aware

  • i-escape can only vouch for those properties which are featured and reviewed on our website. For other areas and accommodations, while we do trust our operator to provide the best options for your needs, you should make sure that you are happy with their suggestions before confirming

Best time to go

The peak seasons in Sri Lanka are from December to March for the west coast, the south coast and the Hill Country, and from April to September for the ancient cities and the east coast.

Our top tips

Don't leave without sampling fish curry. Insanely delicious, we ate it for almost every meal during our trip (including a few breakfasts) - and each was subtly different. Go on a spice tour and buy everything you need to try and recreate it at home. Rick Stein's recipe is excellent.

Great for...

Beach
Family
Foodie
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
Room: Tented safari

Lodging

Sri Lankan accommodation is some of the loveliest we've seen - everything from chic city hotels to architect-designed villas to simple beach retreats. Decor is unfailingly gorgeous (teak-wood beds, billowing white curtains, jewel-bright cushions), staff are wonderfully kind and there's a serene peace to everywhere we've visited.

Read our detailed reviews of the best boutique hotels, B&Bs and rentals, and ask Columbus Travel to include any you love in your itinerary. Or ask for their recommendations to suit your budget and preferences (note, the images displayed in the slideshow here are all i-escape hotels).

We've also reviewed the food at each hotel and locally, and you're in for a treat: mellow but intense curries with notes of coconut, chilli, curry leaves, cinnamon and garlic. Seafood. Dhals. Street stalls peddling roti (a stir-fry wrap) and egg hoppers (pancakes). We ate like kings.

Activities

Things we loved...

  • Watching elephants bathe at Pinnawela orphanage
  • Visiting tea plantations and spice farms
  • The ancient rock fortress of Sigiriya and the Dambulla Cave Temple
  • Kandy, with its beautiful lake
  • Staying in the rainforest, surrounded by exotic wildlife
  • Watching surfers on the golden beaches

    Activities include:

    • Birdwatching
    • Cooking classes
    • Hiking
    • Historical sites
    • Plantlife / flora
    • Private guided tours
    • Rafting
    • Safaris
    • Sailing
    • Scuba diving
    • Shopping / markets
    • Snorkelling
    • Surfing
    • Swimming
    • Traditional cultures
    • Well being
    • Wildlife
    • Yoga
  • Activity:
    Kid Friendly:

    With Kids

    Children are warmly welcomed at most hotels; Sri Lankans are incredibly kind, friendly people. Columbus Travel can help you devise an itinerary that will perfectly suit your family, whether you want adventure, culture or just relaxation.

    Best for:

    Babies (0-1 years), Toddlers (1-4 years), Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

    Family friendly accommodation:

    Extra Beds Available, Family Rooms

    Transport

    Columbus Tours can arrange international flights, internal flights, private cars with drivers, train journeys... whatever you want. We'd recommend having a car with a driver for your entire trip; it is such a lovely, easy way to get about and they'll help you get under the skin of the country.

    Transport:

    Our guests' ratings...

    Based on 7 independent reviews from i-escape guests

    9/10
    Rooms
    9/10
    Service
    9/10
    Value
    9/10
    Overall

    Bastian was our driver during our stay in Sri Lanka and we could not have asked for a better and kinder man to drive us around. He was prompt, his english was great and he was very knowledgeable about his country.

    8/10, , December 2016

    The trip was amazing – well planned and orchestrated. We would definitely make our trip plans with you again in the future.

    10/10, , December 2016

    Our guide, Mr Pryal, was outstanding and the whole arrangement was excellent with good choices of places to visit and the hotels.

    10/10, , August 2016

    Overall a wonderful holiday thanks. Sri Lanka is gorgeous. Driver Romahl was fabulous 10 out of 10, a star. Some of the hotels were fantastic: Tea Trails - fabulous, gorgeous, unbeatable, as good as anywhere in the world. Last House - lovely, great food, best beach, fabulous style. Kalundewa - amazing, would go again and again, the nature is wonderful, the food gorgeous, service unobtrusive and lovely, the rooms outstanding. Other hotels were not quite up to stractch : Kahandra - had a noisy group party. Bar Reef - average service. Helgas Folly was awful. Overall we had an excellent trip.

    10/10, , January 2016

    A very enjoyable experience with Rohan - a very kind and considerate chauffeur/guide and tailormade tours most helpful.

    10/10, , December 2015

    Tailormade Tours was simply exceptional. Everything was arranged in a rather short notice, with all details taken care of and everything foreseen to perfection. The Agency operators were always very professional and available to fix any issue that came up and the tour guide provided by the Agency (Chaminda Desilva) took great care of us and managed to help us experience Sri Lanka in an ideal mix of adventure and comfort. The choice of hotels/resorts/high end accommodation was very good indeed. The Maldives resort in our trip (Veligandu) was also top class. I would recommend Tailormade Tours without hesitation.

    9/10, , July 2015

    It was an amazing holiday, amazing, we truly loved it. What a fabulous country and we only scratched the surface. The quality of the places we stayed, the food, the service, the people, the climate, the sights, the nature. Our driver was excellent although he might say we didn't use all his skills. We didn't really want him to take us on guided tours much, but just be there when we needed him primarily to take us from hotel to hotel and guide us as we went. He did that gracefully and with fantastic knowledge and patience, we'd book him again. Tea trails, Kandy House and Khandra Kandra were so special. So was Living Heritage where the Sri Lankan curries were the best we had. It's just at LH we were the only guests so felt a bit more self conscious. At Maya, unfortunately the dogs barking at night were a real problem. They can't claim serenity and then have that noise. We moved rooms but still. We loved the walking in the villages, the lanes, the jungle ..everything ..the climate. We don't want to be typical tourists so didn't really want a guided tour, going to " Brief gardens " and Geoffrey Bawas home at Bentoto were fabulous. We will come again. Maybe same time next year, not sure, but we learnt so much nearly 4 weeks just flew . Thanks ever so for organising so well ...not one hitch ...not one..amazing experience. Thanks again

    10/10, , January 2015

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    Itineraries