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High-end dining and boutique hideaways are putting Sri Lanka on the map for travellers

Taste of old Ceylon: Camellia Hills offers teabush gardens and an infinity pool

Time for tea

SRI LANKA’s hill country of misty peaks and sacred mountains is a region best known for its tea plantations. And where better for a cuppa on this teardrop-shaped Indian Ocean island, formerly known as Ceylon, than in one of the new Teardrop Hotels opening up this year across the central highlands?

Colonial charm and a team of butlers await at the new Camellia Hills (doubles from £370). With just five rooms, an infinity pool and tea bush gardens, it’s an intimate base to explore nearby lakes, mountains and communities. Don’t miss Nuwara Eliya, the highest town in the country.

Elsewhere, the six-room Pekoe House (doubles from £370) opens next month with a swimming pool, a croquet lawn and a nearby tea factory for tours. You’ll never look at a cup of PG Tips in the same way again.

All creatures great and small

FOR a relatively small island, Sri Lanka packs a big punch when it comes to wildlife. Beyond the leopards and elephants found in Yala National Park, the southern coast is a prime breeding ground for blue whales, with pods of 200 often gathering just offshore.

Natural wonders: See whales and exotic birds

Cantaloupe Aqua hotel (three nights from £640), close to Galle, has just launched a new whale-watching experience to see these magnificent mammals.

Sri Lanka also has a wide variety of birds, from the blue magpie to the yellow-eared bulbul. The new Birds And Whales Of Sri Lanka tour with The Travelling Naturalist (14 nights from £3,195, naturalist.co.uk) promises to showcase most of them while taking in Kelani River, the forests of Kitulgala and the Mirissa coast. Next trip March 2018.

Southern comforts

SINCE Sri Lanka opened up in 2009, after 25 years of civil war, it has attracted a steady flow of curious travellers for its temples, quiet stretches of beach and sparse Jaffna Peninsula, but it’s the developed south where most turn their attention.

Class under canvas: Wild Coast Tented Lodge

Yala National Park, considered to be one of the best places in the world to spot the elusive leopard, has recently seen the arrival of the new Wild Coast Tented Lodge (doubles from £266, resplendentceylon.com), a safari-style retreat of luxurious tents with teak floors and vaulted ceilings, freestanding copper baths and jungle views.

Some boast their own private plunge pools and you can also dip a toe in the camp’s relaxing spa, which favours native ingredients such as Sri Lankan cinnamon.

A capital idea

Colombo is now becoming a destination in its own right. Opening next month, the five-star Shangri-La (pictured below, doubles from £121) will be the Sri Lankan capital’s most luxurious hotel with 500 rooms, many with ocean views.

Meanwhile, new food hot spot Botanik Bistro (mains from £11) offers lofty views and a menu curated by native Michelin-starred chef Rishi Naleendra.

Sri Lanka Airlines offers return flights from London Heathrow to Colombo from £515, srilankan.com