Yala National Park, Sri Lanka

Chena Huts

Rates from (ex tax)$748.25

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 21 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (USD932.24), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.


Wonder domes


Elephant-patrolled outpost

Chena Huts resort – in Yala National Park on Sri Lanka’s southern coast – brings The Jungle Book to life (with a little less singing): elephants frolic on the beach, flamingos flock in the lagoon and, come summer, baby turtles hatch and shimmy into the Indian Ocean. Lavish mop-topped huts are a little more ‘born with a silver spoon’ than ‘raised by wolves’ – each has a private plunge pool, freestanding bath tub and climate control – but, set in seclusion amid the trees, the call of the wild can be answered swiftly. 

Smith Extra

Get this when you book through us:

A 30-minute massage for two; GoldSmiths get a signature dinner for two


Photos Chena Huts facilities

Need to know


Fourteen pavilions.


11am, but flexible, subject to availability. Guaranteed early check-in or late check-out will be charged as an extra night. Earliest check-in, 2pm.


Double rooms from $748.25, excluding tax at 24.59 per cent.

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 21 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (USD932.24), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.

More details

The room rate includes all meals; morning and evening game drives; entry to the National Park with snacks and drinks, and transport in a shared vehicle; selected wine, beer and spirits; and snacks and soft drinks from the daily restocked minibar.


The resort’s ingenious design ensures the flora and fauna remain undisturbed: buildings are spaced out to let wildlife roam freely, paths are raised over vegetation to let it grow, and elderly tree trunks pierce some of the structures.

At the hotel

Private beach, seven acres of wilderness, lagoon, 24-hour guest assistance, free minibar (excluding alcoholic drinks), on-site security, free WiFi. In rooms: Panasonic flatscreen TV and DVD player, Geneva sound system with Bluetooth connection, tea- and coffee-making facilities, minibar, air-conditioning, bottled water.

Our favourite rooms

Each palm-thatched, domed sanctum is equally desirable – there’s little deviation from the stylish mod-safari decor. However, Pavilions 1 and 2 nabbed the best views and are a little closer to the restaurant.


The hotel’s outdoor heated pool (open 10am to 8pm) is camouflaged in jungle greenery and set a little inland, so you’ll hear the trickle of its waterfall before you spy its glimmering jade-toned tiles. A small bar is tucked away under the waterfall, and loungers around the sides are shaded by trees.


Chena Huts Spa, set by the pool, has two thatched treatment rooms for soothing body-buffing rituals, massages and facials.

Packing tips

Bring mosquito repellent to keep away the critters you don’t want to see, and binoculars for spotting the ones you do.


If things get a little dirty, don’t sweat it – guests get six items of clothing freshly laundered, each day, for free. The resort can be navigated by wheelchair (although outside may be trickier), and there's one accessible room.


The wild nature of the resort makes it unsuitable for snack-size little ones.


The hotel’s as green as its leafy surrounds: dining is locally sourced and seasonal food, green products are used throughout, and the hotel’s huts are designed in low-impact, energy-efficient style with LED lighting, solar panels and biogas units. There’s a seawater treatment plant on site, too, and guests are ferried about in electric buggies.

Food and Drink

Photos Chena Huts food and drink

Top Table

Ask staff to set up a table in romantic seclusion by a beach bonfire under the stars.

Dress Code

Khaki king (and queen).

Hotel restaurant

Named after the Great Basses Reef Lighthouse visible from its terrace, Basses restaurant is a laid-back eatery atop a raised platform on the beach. Maps and hurricane lamps add a nautical tinge to recycled-wood furnishings and a palm roof. Open walls and alfresco tables allow guests to gaze over the ocean, and meals showcase local ingredients in fish curries and coconut sambals, with a few modern European picks on the menu. The breakfast menu will lure you like a leopard to its prey with pineapple and cinnamon muffins, French toast with caramelised apples, kiribath (a treditional Sri Lankan dish made with rice) and an omelette station.

Hotel bar

Sundowners are mixed and sipped in the resort’s sunken ocean-facing bar, leading off from the restaurant. Fashioned from local wood (in eco-friendly style) and filled with pouffes to plonk down on to, you can listen to the waves murmur as you sip a cocktail, cool glass of wine or fresh watermelon juice. 

Last orders

Breakfast from 6.30am–9.30am, lunch from 12 noon–2.30pm and dine from 7.30pm–10.30pm.

Room service

None. The bugs and beasts might want to join in…


Photos Chena Huts location
Chena Huts
Diyabunwala Kele, Yala,
Sri Lanka


Fly in to Colombo Bandaranaike Airport (www.airport.lk) then either hop on a connecting flight to Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport, an hour’s drive from the resort, or Mawella Lagoon domestic airport, a two-hour drive away. Cinnamon Air flies to both, once a day. With three days’ notice, the hotel can arrange private transfers from Colombo, roughly a five-hour drive, for US$240 a car.


First-timers in Sri Lanka may feel more comfortable hiring a local driver, as traffic can be a nail-biting affair; the hotel can help you to arrange this. Self-drivers can hire a car at the airport; you’ll need an international licence and recognition permit (available from the AA office in Colombo, +94 11 242 1528) From the capital, choose either the six-hour inland route via Ratnapura’s waterfalls, or the five-hour coastal route with a pitstop in colonial city Galle. From Tissamaharama town follow the B422 and B499 roads south, then turn right onto Chaaya Wild Yala Hotel Road to reach the resort.

Worth getting out of bed for

Most of your time will be spent watching the greenery for a glimpse of the local wildlife. Yala National Park is a ravishingly beautiful, lavishly biodiverse expanse of grassy plains and dense jungle: leopards, elephants, white-tailed deer, crocodiles, sloth bears and colourful flocks of birds co-exist peacefully here (food-chain withstanding) – grab your zoom-iest camera for morning and evening game drives, included in your room rate with a picnic. Bundala National Park, renowned for its theatrical feathered friends and prehistoric relics, is an hour’s drive away. For closer-to-home exploration, ask a member of staff to take you on a tour of the property; it’s possible to spot crocodiles and buffalo by the lagoon, or elephants taking a break on the beach – in summer, baby turtles hatch and make a dash for the surf. If you’re staying a little longer, visit the Great and Little Basses reefs, best reached from Mirissa town (around a three-hour drive), where dolphins and whales frolic, and divers can explore Portuguese wrecks. Kataragama, an hour’s drive north, is home to an ancient Hindu forest shrine (thousands of pilgrims descend on the town in July and August for holy festivities). 


Photos Chena Huts reviews

Anonymous review

Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this jungle-set hotel on Sri Lanka’s south coast and downloaded their leopard prints, a full account of their luxury animal-spotting break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, let’s peer through our binoculars at Chena Huts in Sri Lanka…

We’re all about the bare necessities: staff to cater to our whims 24 hours a day, five-star meals on the beach, a gourmet picnic for the sunrise game drive… must haves. Well, according to heartbreakingly beautiful Sri Lankan stay Chena Huts, where all come as standard. This may be back-to-nature for those who still desire five-star dining and a swim-up bar, but it’s still wonderfully wild, with the furred and clawed denizens of Yala National Park: elephants, leopards, crocodiles, flamingos – even the beasts are a class above. It’s not all about animal instincts, though: there’s a lot of love too. Take a bonfire-lit walk on the beach, gaze up at the stars from your hut’s terrace, and then, go a little wild… 

The Guestbook

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