For a small island, Sri Lanka has plenty to tempt you to visit - white sand beaches, ancient cities, tea plantations, leopards and elephants, even a growing fashion scene, not to mention plenty of winter sun.
Starter for 10: Sri LankaAward-winning eco hotel Heritance Kandalama is built right into the mountainside jungle, designed by one of Sri Lanka's most respected architects Geoffrey Bawa. Looking out to the rock fortress of Sigiriya, a Unesco World Heritage site, it's near four more historic sights in the island's Cultural Triangle.
With an infinity pool, five star luxury and more than a few celebrity visitors, it ticks the style and responsible travel boxes, and makes a great base to explore from. Double rooms start from around £115. Visit www.heritancehotels.com/kandalama for more information.
Home to between 60 and 80 elephants, try to time any visit to see feeding time for the babies, at around 8am, and their bath in the river at 10am and 2pm. You can even get close enough for some trunk patting and to feed them a handful of peanuts. The elephant orphanage is north-west of the town of Kegalle.
Visit www.srilankadesignfestival.com for more information on events, including workshops and talks by international and local designers.
During your climb, watch out for the mirrored wall, the famous frescoes and the lion's paws at the entrance to the final stretch, helping give Sigiriya its name of lion's rock. A ticket to the main Cultural Triangle sights costs around £25, or entrance is usually included in tour packages.
Anuradhapura, dating back to the fourth century BC, was established around a cutting of the bodhi tree under which the Buddha found enlightenment – the original tree has since been destroyed but the Sri Lankan sapling is flourishing. The huge temple complex stretches for miles, with restoration work still going on at various sites. And after exploring more ruins of the city in Polonnaruwa, including the huge Gal Vihara Buddha statues, take a moment to stop by the manmade lake dating from 1200AD.
After dinner served by white gloved waiters, you can relax in front of the open fire – at 6,500ft about sea level, you might well be glad of it – or look into the billiard room and the reading room.
The Pedro Tea Estate starts with a view of the pluckers on the hills, before walking through the factory to see how the leaves are sorted and dried, and find their way to bag or teapot. Entrance costs around 50p.
As well as carvings and beautiful bright textiles, there's jewellery and even furniture. Elephant Walk on Church Street is great for gifts, Barefoot ,on Pedlar Street, is an explosion of brightly coloured fabrics and homewares.
With the one of the highest densities of the elusive big cat in the world, you might not be guaranteed sight of a leopard, but you've got a good chance. Most tour operators can arrange safaris or you can hire a guide at the park – although you'll get what you pay for. The park closes for part of September and October during the rainy season.
On The Go Sri Lanka Unplugged 15-day tour costs from £1,199, excluding flights. Explore Secrets of Sri Lanka 14-day tour costs from £1,189 excluding flights. Imaginative Traveller Highlights of Sri Lanka 15-day tour costs from £1,150 excluding flights.
Reef & Rainforest tours has a new 11-day Leopard and Blue Whale Spotting Safari, including Yala, costing from £2,965
Return flights with Sri Lankan Airlines from London Heathrow to Colombo cost from around £515.
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