Accommodations of all types and budgets around Sri Lanka
First things first, and just so you get an overall idea:
I travelled with my boyfriend for 2 months, and stayed in 24 different accommodations, from guest houses to a 5 star hotel. We always had a private room, and the prices ranged from 5€ to 67€ per night, most of them being around 25€ with breakfast included (for the both of us). Coming from Europe is still cheap, but the standards are a bit lower than in Thailand, though, were we stayed in cheaper and better places overall.
In summary, 1 accommodation was plain terrible, I would not recommend another one, 3 of them were just ok, and the rest were good or really good! Here's the breakdown:
Colombo: White villa, 1 night. 4/10
A guest house a bit far away to explore Colombo. We stayed our first night and were unable to even SEE anyone working there: another guest showed us our room and a friend collected our money the next day. It was clean, cheap and had AC, but was overall not so great. We had our last night in Sri Lanka reserved there too, and we cancelled it.
Colombo: Mrs Pepperpots, 1 night. 7/10
An ok room with shared bathroom, in a new house in a nice area, with a super helpful owner with lots of tips and advice who will help you organize tuktuks and transfers to the airport.
South west area
Bentota: Little Swan, 2 nights. 8/10
For 25€ per night we got a pretty room with a fan in this guest house, including a really nice breakfast and a free boat ride along the river. The room had a balcony with views to it. The beach was a biiit far, but less than 10 minutes walking. The family was great, and they event took us in their tuktuk to the bus station when we left, for free.
Hikkaduwa: Why not, 3 nights. 6/10
We got the cheapest room in the hotel, and if you're going to stay here I would recommend upgrading. It is right at the beach, but the cheapest rooms don't even have all the windows, so you'll hear everything! And it's not the quiet kind of place. A member of the staff thought at one point we didn't pay some beers (which we did, and we showed him the bill) and kept being really unfriendly the whole time we stayed there which was a total downer.
Galle: Kings villa, 3 nights. 7/10
Don't stay 3 nights in Galle, it's just too much, even in this new and amazing guest house. It is really luxurious and cheap, but far away from the fort, around 35 minutes walking through Galle's crazy streets... Breakfast was included, the family there was very welcoming, and they make the best smoothies in Sri Lanka.
South of Sri Lanka
Midigama: Vihansha guesthouse, 5 nights. 7/10
This super cheap guest house looks far away from everything in the map, but it's less than a 10 minute walk to a really pretty beach. It is simple, and the owners are a wonderful family! If you prefer a "hotel" feeling, maybe that won't be for you, since they like spending time with ther guests, talking, sipping tea, cooking and eating together.
Hiriketiya: Sea port Hiriketiya, 3 nights. 8/10
Just across the street from one of the prettiest (and lately, expensive and touristy) places! The room in this small hotel was big, clean, pretty, quiet and cheap!
Tangalle: Nirvana Beach Boutique Hotel, 3 nights. 8/10
Right on the beach, and with a pool! Rooms are giant, with a balcony, AC, and the outdoor bathroom even has a tiny pool if you are up for it. The cons: it is a bit appart from everything else and the staff is... let's say kind of crazy? But nice!
Mirissa: California family guest house, 2 nights. 7/10
Just next to the beach, this guest house has a friendly host and nice drinks. The room smelled a bit funny and was a bit too warm, though.
Mirissa: Suwa Arana, 2 nights. 7/10
5 minutes from the beach, in a quiet area, this guest house offered a nice big clean room with AC.
Midigama: Dew drop, 5 nights. 8/10
Nice room, a bit pricey for lacking AC. Location is great, specially if interested in surfing, and there is a weekly curry night where you can have dinner together with the other guests!
Udawalawa and the highlands
Udawalawa: Jungle book, 1 night. 8/10
Ok. It is a really simple room, but we payed 5€ for the night the both of us together! The owner is an amazing guy, if you have the time, a chat with him is worth it. He cooked dinner and breakfast for a super fair price, and organized our safari, together with other guests (so it was cheaper for us!!!).
Ella: New Green View, 1 night. 1/10
PLAIN TERRIBLE. Warning: that may have been a room problem, since I saw other guests and they looked happy, and the reviews of the place were actually good. We booked a "deluxe" room, just to arrive to a tiny, dirty, damp and smelly room, with the bathroom door not even closing. And super far away from the center. And even if it is uphill, do NOT expect views, just the trees in front of you. We had to stay one night there since we didn't find anything else, and trust me, Ella is cold, sleeping in a damp bed is not funny AT ALL. The owner even marked us as "no show" in booking.com so I couldn't give him a bad review (maybe that's why he just had good reviews!)
Ella: Grand 39, 2 nights. 9/10
A bit pricier if you check the prices online, we got a simpler and cheaper room when the owner saw us asking for a room all over Ella running from the terrible previous place. Really nice location, super friendly host that is an AMAZING cook and made us the best breakfasts we had in Sri Lanka (and you can take a cooking class with him, too!)
Haputale: Lilly Guest Inn, 2 nights. 6/10
The rating here is totally subjective. The place is a bit far, but has nice rooms. We took one of their deluxe ones, with balcony (the view is just worth it in the morning before the mist covers everything, though!) and even a tiny fridge. The owners were not so welcoming (everyone has the right to have a couple bad days...). "For safety" they lock the house with the guests inside, and no, you can't go out. We found out when we tried to leave at 5 in the morning to catch the sunrise in Lipton's Seat. Long story short: Alex had to jump out from a window to ring the bell and wake up the owner, so he opened the gates for us to go out with the motorbike.
Nuwara Eliya: Blue Moon, 1 night. 7/10
It is an ok room with really friendly people and breakfast included in an ok location. Worked out fine.
Nallathanniya: Paradise entrance, 1 night. 8/10
A clean room with warm shower, next to the start from the hike to Adam's Peak and the bus station, and on top of a restaurant that offers nice Rotti and Kotty. Perfect if you want to do the hike at night!
The center of the Island
Kandy: UK Forest Lodge, 4 nights. 10/10
The prices might go up, we were the first guests here, and got a really cheap price! It is a wonderful room with an amazing bathroom, and the hosts plain great! An amazing breakfast, located next to the forest, a 10 minute walk along the north part of the lake (my favourite area from Kandy) to the Temple of the Tooth. Only downside: the 125 steps to arrive there. Specially after Adam's Peak is kind of a challenge, but if you can manage it give the place a try!
Sigiriya: River retreat guest house, 1 night. 7/10
Just next to the Lions rock, a big, clean room for cheap!
Anuradhapura: N & L Holiday Resort, 2 nights. 6/10
The owner was nice and the place itself too, but I didn't like the area at all.
North and north west
Uppuveli: Blue Wings Beach Hotel, 2 + 3 nights. 10/10
The price here might go up, too, since it was recently inaugurated and it was low season. But it really was THE perfect room, on the beach! Just a bit far away from the rest of places (at least the ones opened during low season). The host is an amazing cook that will arrange anything you want for food (and drinks) and the prices are really fair.
Uppuveli: Inn Seabreeze, 1 night. 7/10
We stayed here one night because we wanted to extend our time at the Blue Wings but one night was booked out! This room was ok too, but nothing in comparison! Our stay was during Thai Pongal, and the owner invited us for breakfast so we could try it, which was really nice.
Uppuveli: Amaranthé Bay Resort & Spa, 1 night. 9/10
We wanted to take advantage of the low prices during low season, and got a junior suite in this 5 star hotel for one night. We payed 67€ with great breakfast buffet included, and I would totally recommend it. We had a big jacuzzy in the room overviewing the pool and lake! You can skip the buffet for dinner, I would either go somewhere else or get one of the choices à la carte.
Jaffna: Senthil complex, 3 nights. 8/10
A bit appart from Jaffnacity center, this hotel with big and clean rooms, friendly and super helpful stuff, has the best motorbikes we saw in Sri Lanka, with new helmets!
And that's it. Like I said, those are just my experiences. From what I observed, the houses in Sri Lanka get kind of old pretty fast, so what I found wonderful might not be your cup of tea another time, and don't be afraid to go to places with few reviews, you can be as lucky as we were and get a new place for cheap!
It is a beautiful country with wonderful people, so no matter your budget, manage your expectations and enjoy your stay!