x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Enjoy five-star luxury in the heart of Colombo

We're off to the Sri Lankan capital for a week's holiday. Can you suggest a few five-star hotels in or near the city? What's the best way to get around?

We're off to the Sri Lankan capital for a week's holiday. Can you suggest a few five-star hotels in or near the city? What's the best way to get around? At the top of Colombo's list of five-star hotels is the popular Taj Samudra (www.tajhotels.com; 00 94 11 2446 622), a beautiful hotel with flowing fountains, landscaped grounds and great views. Double rooms cost from US$117 (Dh430) including taxes.

The Ceylon Continental (www.ceyloncontinental.com; 00 94 11 242 121) is located in the heart of Colombo and is just the ticket for those who cannot live without their creature comforts. It's also quite close to popular tourist spots such as the National Museum, the zoological gardens, and some of the best restaurants on the island. Double rooms cost from $94 (Dh344) including taxes.

Cinnamon Lakeside Colombo (www.cinnamonhotels.com; 00 94 11 269 4000), as its name suggests, has magnificent views of Beira Lake, and claims to be the only hotel in the capital to have this privilege. It's also home to some of the country's finest watering holes while being close to the city. Double rooms cost from $124 (Dh455) including taxes. Getting around Colombo is easy - if you know how to bargain. The three-wheel taxis, or rickshaws, may seem quaint and are a quick way to get to your destination, but beware of being ripped off. Ask around and check rates with at least three or four rickshaw drivers, and drive a hard bargain before you agree on a price.

Travelling by taxi may turn out to be a far simpler option because they all come equipped with meters. Many of them offer full-day packages (From $40, Dh147). Generally, most tourists opt to rent a car, which is recommended by most hotels. You can choose to drive it yourself, or pay a little extra for a driver. If you choose the latter, ask for a multilingual person who knows the city well and can find the quickest route between places while avoiding what the city is famous for - pile-ups.

If you're feeling adventurous, hop on a bus and enjoy the city's various sights for next to nothing - it won't cost you more than half a dollar (Dh4) to travel halfway across the island. The buses can be outrageously crowded and frustratingly slow, but they'll give you a no-holds-barred view of the city and its people. If taking public transport seems an exhausting task, you can always book a limousine either at the airport or at the five-star hotel you'll be staying in and travel in luxury and style.

Return flights on Etihad Airways (www.etihadairways.com) from Abu Dhabi to Colombo cost from US$354 (Dh1,300) including taxes. Do you have travel questions or queries? If so, e-mail them to us at travel@thenational.ae