So you have a longish layover in Colombo.
Should you spend that time waiting around in the airport halls?!
Well, as always…
Maybe, maybe not!
It can depend on your flight plan, how relaxed you want to be, and how much you’re willing to spend for that relaxation.
So there’s a “transit hotel” inside Colombo Airport.
So when you have a layover in Colombo that’s between 8 hours and 24 hours, checking in to a hotel without having to go very far might be an option!
In May 2019, had a 14 hour overnight layover at Colombo airport on a Sri Lankan Airlines flight on my way to local islands in the Maldives.
I figured my options for the airport layover were:
- Sleep at the airport overnight on a row of seats or the floor (there are seats with no arm rests throughout the airport… but you may annoy someone by taking up all the seats!)
- Find a cheap guesthouse near Colombo airport
- Stay at the “transit hotel” inside the airport (without going through immigration)
Why stay at a hotel inside the airport?!
If you stay at Colombo airport’s transit hotel, the Serenediva transit hotel through Sri Lankan Airlines, you don’t have to leave the airport.
It can mean that you don’t have to go out onto the streets of Colombo and get a ride both away from and back to the airport. (Well, onto the streets of Negombo actually since that’s where the airport is located!)
Not leaving the airport means that you don’t have to go through the process of getting a transit visa. (Although this doesn’t seem to be too difficult, and you can do it on arrival.)
It also means that you don’t have to go through immigration to get out of the airport…
And you don’t have to go through immigration to get back into the airport!
You also don’t need to allow extra time not knowing how long it’ll take to get through security.
It means that within 5 minutes of stepping foot into the airport, you can be checking in to the hotel!
How to get to the airport hotel
So Colombo Airport does not seem to be that big.
Once you get off your flight, you can basically just follow the signs.
For the first part it’ll point you in the same direction for both arrivals and transfers.
Then it’ll split off.
At this point, to get to the transit hotel, you will shortly follow the signs for ARRIVALS, which is to the left.
You will also likely see the information desk as you come across the split for arrivals and transfers, so when in doubt, you can ask there about how to get to the “transit hotel.”
And then once you turn left here, you’ll see elevators and a sign for the transit hotel on the left side, almost directly across from the immigration line.
You’ll then take the elevator, and then once you get off the elevator, it’ll be pretty straightforward!
You’ll pass by the Emirates Airlines lounge too.
And then you can check in to the hotel!
Is the Serenediva transit hotel worth the cost?!
How much does the airport hotel cost?
If the cost of your Sri Lankan Airlines flight meets a certain threshold, you may be able to get a free hotel stay.
For a one-way ticket, the minimum is US$350. For a round-trip ticket, it’s US$700.
Check here for updated info.
The cost of my flight was under the minimum so I was paying for the hotel out of pocket.
You can make a reservation in 6-hour blocks.
And then you can also pay hourly after that.
If you reserve a room for 12 hours, then the price will simply be double of the 6 hour price. (So there’s no discount.)
Prices subject to chance! Photo taken May 2019. Also see here for updated prices.
I booked my room for 12 hours, and basically maxed out the 12 hours.
So the cost of the room was US$120.
Was the room worth US$120?!
This basically comes down to how important rest is to you!
In traveling through Asia, I have rarely spent over US$100 on a night at a hotel. A recent rare exception to this was staying at a “cheaper” resort on a local island in the Maldives… and that was just for one night.
But it was really a matter of how well-rested I wanted to be when I flew into my next destination…
And I wanted to be well-rested and not be tired all day on my first day in the Maldives! (It could be a waste if your time at your next destination is short and you want to maximize the time you do have!)
So I won’t say “it was worth every penny” – it’s really just a basic room that gives a place to sleep – but I did feel pretty happy when I woke up and felt like I got good sleep.
Being able to sleep at the airport (as opposed to outside the airport) gave me a little bit extra time in the morning since I didn’t have to wake up as early. (It was a 7am flight, and I think I checked out around 6am.)
It was quite nice to be able to roll out of bed an hour before boarding time and simply walk a few minutes and be at the boarding gate!
I didn’t have to think about having to wake up extra early with consideration to the time it takes for driving to the airport, going through security, or going through immigration!
What’s the room like at the Serenediva transit hotel
Don’t expect too much!
It really is just a simple place to rest for a few hours.
TV reception and wifi connection wasn’t the best. So don’t decide to stay just for the TV or internet!
Hotel booking for the transit hotel
I did not make a reservation ahead of time.
Of course, in not booking ahead, there’s always a risk of a room not being available.
Other places to stay near Colombo Airport?!
If you decide to stay at a hotel outside the airport…
Things can change, so be sure to check updated info but it does seem like transit visas are free for Sri Lanka for all countries.
A “transit” is considered 2 days in Sri Lanka.
Put in future dates into the map below (partner website) to see the prices of hotels near the airport.
Again, the Colombo International Airport CMB is actually in the city of Negombo.
If you don’t see the map below, you can check here for Negombo hotel deals.
HAPPY COLOMBO AIRPORT LAYOVER!
The need-to-know India travel tips!If it's your first trip to India, be sure to see these tips for getting around India on a budget, and more! You might wait until India to buy this mosquito repellent that works for many foreigners! Also be sure to see how to spend one month in South India and 2 weeks in North India, as well as tips for the Golden Triangle. And, overnight sleeper bus travel isn't so bad, and neither is traveling in general class on the train! Also see the easy way to get an e-visa. And this is the easy way to book train tickets online as a foreigner. I've used it, and it's simple! You can just show the e-ticket on your phone.
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Hostels in KeralaFor a hostel with international standards in Kerala, try Zostel!
More Zostels in Kerala:
Zostel is a top backpacker chain across India, and I've stayed at many Zostels in India! And outside of Kerala, if you'll be passing through Gokarna as you go from Goa to Kerala (here are options of how to get from Goa to Kerala!), then Zostel Gokarna is in an amazing location too! Here are pictures from the on-site cafe that overlooks the ocean.
Where to stay on the tourist trail in KeralaThese places basically go down the coast from north to south!
- Cochin: Try a homestay in the cute heritage area of Fort Kochi.
- Marari Beach: This is an "off-beat" location as Marari is mostly unknown to backpackers, but it can be a convenient stop to make between Cochin and Alleppey with chill laid back vibes. For an idea of what type of beach can be nearby, see my beach walk from Alleppey to Marari.
- Alleppey Beach:
- Funky Art Beach House again for chill vibes with a location among locals in a residential neighborhood
- And there's Zostel Alleppey too for another beach location to stay several days
- OR if Alleppey is a quick visit, try Dream Nest to be closer to town
- And see how to spend one day in Alleppey (short version: go for the backwaters village canoe tour instead of a houseboat!)
- Alleppey backwaters:
- Munroe Island: This is another generally kind of more off-beat location, and you can see a different part of the Kerala backwaters on a quiet island
- Varkala cliff:
Retreats in KeralaFor relaxation and rejuvenation for health and wellness, also see:
- Yoga retreats in Kerala
- Ayurveda retreats in Kerala - ayurveda is basically healthy living through natural herbs and remedies, and Kerala is the birthplace of ayurveda!
How to book India train tickets online as a foreignerIf you don't want to go through the complicated process of setting up an IRCTC Indian railways account as a foreigner...
Then the most convenient way to buy train tickets online is through this booking website. I've used it, and it's super simple! You buy the ticket, and then show the electronic version on your phone once you're on the train. Compared to buying directly through an Indian ticket booking website (IRCTC account required) or directly at the train station in India, there is a small convenience fee, as well as a less flexible cancellation policy, though!