Despite being right next to the Batticaloa fort, this place is a hidden gem. The Lanka Rest Housess (LRH) goes under many names - Singing Fish, Batticaloa Rest House - and is nearly impossibly to find information about online. Until now. It's basic accommodation, but we think this is the best place to stay in Batticaloa.
First, the basic info. A room is Rs. 3,000 for a double, Rs. 3,700 with breakfast. These prices may change with season so please call ahead.
You get what you usually get in this price range, in our case two single beds and a clean, functional bathroom. Nothing fancy, at all. Oh, and our room also had an A/C. It's basic accommodation. It's comfortable enough to crash in, but it's not a honeymoon spot where you'd want to spend a lot of time in your room.
For us the most important thing in a hotel is the bathrooms. These were fine, but it's one of those situations where the shower, toilet and sink are all in one space, and it does get wet if you shower. They include soap and some rather thin towels.
The location can't be beat. It's literally right next to the Batticaloa Fort and walking distance from good kottu, the Mahatma Gandhi Park, etc. The land itself has a huge lawn overlooking the lagoon and you can have a pleasant dinner there under the stars.
The hotel itself is quite pleasant. We spent a fair amount of time in the lobby watching cricket, drinking beer and chatting to tourists that walked buy. The hotel has a really good vibe to it.
Fish tank in the lobby
The service here is amazing, better than any five star. Benedict was the manager while we were there and he was friendly, supremely helpful and generally very cool. He was happy to chat, told us places to go and arranged everything from drivers to a crab feast quite capably. All the staff were, quite frankly, amazing and you felt good being there. That's why we hung out in the lobby so much. We felt like we were in a family home and we were all watching cricket together.
If you're staying in Batticaloa town itself, this is the spot (as long as you don't mind basic accommodation). It's cheap, the staff are insanely nice, and the lawn and location can't be beat.
If you want a classic Batticaloa crab curry, ask early in the day, or preferably the day before.