If you’re looking for the best place to stay in Sri Lanka as a digital nomad, Owl and the Pussycat Hotel is the place to be.
I’m back in Sri Lanka and I’m really having a good time here! Despite the country’s strict travel rules due to COVID, I was still able to enjoy my trip because of my convenient stay at Owl and the Pussycat Hotel. I traveled all the way to Galle, which is a popular spot for tourists in Sri Lanka, to stay in this very instagrammable hotel.
Being a digital nomad, I always look for a place where I can still do some work online while I’m on a trip. This is how I found Owl and the Pussycat Hotel, which is a Level 1 hotel at Sri Lanka’s Safe and Secure Tourism Scheme (I’ll explain more about it below).
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About Owl and the Pussycat Hotel
Owl and the Pussycat Hotel is a boutique luxury with 17 unique suites located in the southern coastal town of Thalpe. The lovely owners, Reita Gadkari and Shane Thantirimudalige made sure that the hotel offers elegance on a lovely seaside.
The hotel’s interior is designed by New York architect Uday Dhar, with the property painted in deep pastels and vibrant bohemian hues. This makes the hotel feels like a place that releases a good amount of energy. Not only that but the hotel’s furniture, colourful textiles, and artwork are hand-made by 20 artists from all over the world, including local artisans!
Furthermore, it is named the “Most Instagrammable Hotel” by Small Luxury Hotels due to its colourful and vibrant design! Here, you can also choose from a variety of individually designed and generously sized rooms, and stunning suites overlooking the Indian Ocean. With its ocean-edge pool and buzzing waterfront restaurant and bar, the hotel is particularly well suited for couples’ beach breaks, honeymoons, baby-moons, and romantic getaways.
If you’re curious about its name, it’s inspired by the Poem “The Owl and the Pussycat” written by Edward Lear, which is a really cute poem!
Why is Owl and the Pussycat Hotel the Ideal Place for Digital Nomads
With working remotely being more and more popular these days, especially now that a lot of people work from home due to the pandemic, it’s not surprising that you’ll find a lot of places where you can work as a digital nomad. In Sri Lanka, I discovered a place where a digital nomad like me can work perfectly – the Owl and the Pussycat Hotel.
For digital nomads, having a good internet connection is something we badly need. Well, the internet is the backbone of our job. At Owl and the Pussycat Hotel, their internet connection will still give you the opportunity to do your job remotely while having a relaxing stay. With their reliable internet, you can work at ease and enjoy the property’s amenities and food! Yes! There’s a WiFi connection all throughout the property so you can go around exploring the area while doing your job.
Owl and the Pussycat Hotel has 17 suites that are laid out in 4 different buildings – the Blue, the Beige, the Pink, and the Yellow buildings. Each of these suites offers a comfortable and convenient stay especially for a digital nomad like me! Anywhere you go here, you can rely on their internet. This makes the OTP hotel perfect not only for families or couples on a trip but also for digital nomads or remote workers! Several suites also have open-plan kitchens, perfect for longer stays.
Other facilities to look forward are the restaurants that serve the finest local ingredients and dishes, a swimming pool with sun loungers, and seaside massage and yoga that are available on request.
You Can Have a Peaceful and Adventurous Stay at the Same Time
At Owl and the Pussycat Hotel, you can enjoy a refreshing dip in the hotel’s oceanfront pool, dining on fresh lobster under a beautiful night sky, or exploring Sri Lanka’s lush landscape. Since Owl and the Pussycat Hotel is a Level-1 hotel, it gives you the opportunity to luxuriate in comfort and freedom within a “bio bubble” shared only with other tested guests and staff.
With the hotel’s ideal location, you will also be able to visit up to 19 approved tourism sites across the island that adhere to the highest Covid-19 safety protocols.
If you want to try a more adventurous stay, you can do these activities they offer – swimming with turtles, learning to fish with local stilt fishermen, shopping in local Galle boutiques, sailing, cycling, hiking, diving, surfing, local food market visits & cookery classes with the Executive Chef, and whale-watching! The hotel is ideally situated for blue whale watching trips off the southern coast from December to April, including sightings of dolphins and sperm whales.
Partnerhsip with a Chic Restaurant Owner from Colombo
BOTANIK is a bistro and bar concept in theory. It was set up in collaboration with Sri Lanka’s first Michelin Star chef Rishi Naleendra who worked on the menus. The amazing thing about BOTANIK is that it focuses on local market produce and fresh fish from the Ocean. Their head chef specializes in exquisite preparations of fresh fish and seafood.
As for the menu, it offers a varied a-la-carte menu for lunch and dinner that features International dishes with a modern Sri Lankan touch. They also cater to special events and can customize the menu depending on the occasion. You’re a vegan? No problem! They can prepare a vegan dish for you!
The owner, Dmitri Jayasuriya, made sure that everyone can enjoy delicious local dishes no matter what their preferences are.
As a digital nomad, you can enjoy gourmet cuisine and a view of the Indian Ocean. You can try dressing up to dine alfresco under the stars on the beautiful terrace by the sea or dine in the AC room. On the weekends, they have live jazz with a lively and chic atmosphere.
Their Blissful Bubble Package
OTP’s Blissful Bubble Package offers guests 10% off the best room rates when booking any of the hotel’s spacious rooms and suites for 14 nights or more. Their entry-level suite packages start at USD 2,293 per couple for 14 nights, inclusive of complimentary daily breakfast and daily set dinner, free Wi-Fi throughout your stay, as well as the cost of all PCR tests and insurance required in Sri Lanka!
Note – The Blissful Bubble Package rates are valid for stays until 31st July 2021.
My Personal Experience As A Digital Nomad Staying at Owl and the Pussycat Hotel
The hotel is near the Galle Fort which is one of the most popular among tourists and expats in Sri Lanka. I was able to visit there even for a short time, and due to Sri Lanka’s strict rules, there is no crowd in the area which is cool because I feel like the place is all mine! Haha! You know, as a digital nomad, I love exploring places I am staying. Some attractions in the country are still restricted but good thing I was able to go to other spots. Yay!
Every morning, I always enjoy my breakfast prepared by their amazing chef. In my time there, I also had a special dinner with Chef Roma and Dmitry who owns the BOTANIK Bistro Bar and has a partnership with the OTP Hotel.
As I mentioned earlier, Owl and the Pussycat Hotel has 17 suites located in 4 different buildings. I’m just so glad that even though I was on a trip, I’m still able to do some stuff online as the internet here is fast and reliable, which is perfect for me! Haha.
Galle is a busy city in Sri Lanka but I also got the chance to have a lovely walk at the Mihiripenna Beach. The OTP Hotel is located by the beach facing the Laccadive Sea so such a beautiful view of the ocean is absolutely therapeutic.
Things To Remember Before Booking at Owl and the Pussycat Hotel
Sri Lanka has stricter rules compared with other countries I’ve visited before I arrive here. However, the process will be smoother for as long as you have proper documents.
Upon arrival, I did a PCR test, and from the airport, I went straight to a certified safe and secure Level 1 hotel that I booked. What is this Level 1 hotel? In Sri Lanka, they have what they call ‘Safe and Secure’ Level 1 and Level 2 hotels. This helps them separate foreign tourists arriving in the country from the crowd. How? If you’re a tourist, you need to have a 14-day (2 weeks) stay at any Level 1 hotel (You can find and download the complete list of the L1 hotels here). You’re not really in quarantine since you can still use all the facilities at the hotel and you can still go to approved sites.
Requirements Prior to Boarding
You need to have a confirmed booking of your chosen L1 hotel before your arrival. Hotel booking could be made directly with the hotel or through a travel agency or OTA. No worries as you are still allowed to move within L1 hotels and use all facilities of the hotel. Another mandatory requirement is a COVID-19 local travel insurance cover for USD 12/person for a policy of USD 50,000 for a period of one month.
You will also need to pay for PCR tests (USD 40 per PCR test) depending on the number of days of your stay. Here’s a breakdown:
- If your stay is 5 or more days, pay for 2 PCR tests, on arrival and exit PCR.
- If your stay is less than 5 days, no exit PCR is required.
- Children below 2 years are exempted from PCR testing. However, if the parents/guardians develop symptoms or result in positive PCR test reports children will need to undergo PCR tests.
- Children between 2-12 years undergo only exit PCR tests.
Furthermore, don’t forget your negative PCR test done within 72 hours before boarding the flight. Using public transport is also prohibited in that 14-day period so airport transfers need to be arranged by either the respective Certified Safe & Secure L1 hotel or Certified Safe & Secure travel agent. Prepare your health declaration as well because it’s also one of the requirements. You can download it here.
Bio Bubble Protocol
In Sri Lanka, they have a Bio Bubble Protocol. In Bio Bubble, you can visit tourist sites as long as it is approved under this bubble. So yes, you can still go out of your L1 hotel.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Where is Owl and the Pussycat Hotel?
It is located in Galle, Sri Lanka, and is 159 km from the Bandaranaike International Airport.
2. Where can I book a reservation for Owl and the Pussycat Hotel?
You can visit booking.com to book a reservation.
3. Do we need a visa to enter Sri Lanka?
For Filipinos entering Sri Lanka, we must apply for a Sri Lanka ETA before departure.
Note from Sri Lanka tourism: All visas must be applied online through the Immigration ETA portal (www.eta.gov.lk). Before you apply for your visa, you need to have a confirmed hotel booking, pre-purchased PCR tests and a mandatory COVID-19 Insurance Cover paid for through your ‘Safe & Secure’ Level 1 hotel when making your booking. The hotel will issue a reference number which you need to include in your visa form under the section “contact details”. There you will be asked for ‘address in Sri Lanka’ under which you need to indicate your hotel name, address, and the reference number issued.
4. I am fully vaccinated, do I still need to follow the safety protocol?
Yes. Currently, there are no exceptions made for full-vaccinated travelers.
5. Can I change my L1 hotel within my 14-day period?
Yes, for as long as this hotel is also under the L1 hotels’ list.
6. I already finished my 14 days and 13 night stay at my L1 hotel, can I transfer to another hotel that’s not included on the L1 hotels’ list?
Yes. Once you finished this 14-day period, you can now transfer to other hotels of your choice.
7. Where can I find more details about the safety protocols in Sri Lanka?
You can visit their tourism official website for further details and information.
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