JC Stays: Jetwing Jaffna, Sri Lanka

For tourists ready to venture off the beaten track, this hotel is the perfect place to explore Sri Lanka’s north


Jetwing Jaffna, Sri Lanka

Jaffna, in the far north of Sri Lanka, suffered badly during the civil war but is now enjoying something of a revival. The massive fort is undergoing restoration, the 1930s Public Library has been rebuilt, there are pristine beaches nearby, and Sri Lanka’s northernmost city is thriving again.

The Jetwing Jaffna Hotel is set right in the middle of the action, close to the lively market, the bus stand and the railway station, yet it’s surprisingly quiet and calm, partly because it rises seven storeys above the city. At the top, its open-air bar has some spectacular views over the rooftops to the lagoon beyond.

The 55 deluxe rooms are decorated with traditional art, and furnished in rustic northern colours. On the walls are hand-painted murals from legendary Hindu stories and the beds have ornately carved timber headboards.

Each room has a small balcony, perfect for a blast of early morning air and for admiring the view — our fourth-floor deluxe room overlooked the lagoon.

You’ll find the usual mod cons, including air conditioning, ceiling fans, mini bar, tea and coffee making facilities, LCD TV with satellite channels and 24-hour room service, along with a rain shower, custom toiletries, bath robes and slippers in the bathroom.

The hotel’s Peninsula Restaurant is the city’s only fine dining restaurant, with a string of Jaffna specialities on the menu, including plenty of fish plus there’s a weekly Indian evening buffet.

And the Sky Lounge on the top floor is one of the few places in Jaffna to serve alcohol — the perfect place to relax after a day’s sightseeing, enjoy a happy hour Lion beer and savour the sunset.

While there’s no pool, you can hire one of the hotel’s bikes and cycle to the nearby beaches.

To the west of the city are clusters of small islands linked by causeways, easily accessible by bicycle or tuk-tuk; the sea is shallow here but Casuarina Beach is probably the best place for a dip.

Further afield, connected to the mainland by ferry, are the islands of Nagadeepa and Delft (or Neduntheevu), home to herds of wild horses, while the Jaffna Peninsula is scattered with Hindu temples and pilgrims flock to the sacred waters of Keerimalai to bathe.

The city’s market, Jaffna Fort and library are all in walking distance as well — it’s well worth wandering down to the fishing port at dawn to see the colourful boats landing their catch.

Still off the usual tourist map, direct flights from Colombo and a regular train service mean the city is more accessible. For now, it remains unspoilt — more like India than Sri Lanka, due to its large Tamil population — but it can’t be long before sun seekers start arriving to take advantage of its many pristine beaches.


Rooms at Jetwing Jaffna start from £170 for a double including breakfast.

There is also a sister luxury villa nearby, Jetwing Mahesa Bhawan, with prices from £270.

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