Built in 1864, the Galle Face Hotel is said to be one of the oldest hotels East of the Suez. Since then it has played host to countless celebrities and members of the worlds royal families, with famous guests including Vivien Leigh, Prince Philip and Emperor Hirohito.
Whilst it is fair to say the hotel is showing signs of wear and tear, it is currently nearing the end of an extensive renovation project with only the rooms and a few small public areas still to be finished before they will be back to their glory days of old luxury and opulence.
Sadly my Superior room didn’t have much of a sea view as I had hoped but this was easily rectified by maximizing my time in “Sea Spray” their ocean front bar and restaurant; there can’t be many better places to watch the sunset from in Colombo and even if you do not stay there, a drink is highly recommended!
Breakfast is outstanding, with a huge array of Western and Sri Lankan dishes that rotate each morning to stop meal times becoming repetitive. Service is excellent, friendly and attentive; I especially liked the little service touches like the fact that juices are bought to your table in a woven basket filled with chilled glass jugs and include King Coconut, Guava and Watermelon alongside the more familiar orange and apple.
Live stations include an Egg station and also one for “Hoppers” and “Egg Hoppers” a sort of Sri Lankan bowl-shaped pancake made with rice flour and coconut milk with the option of having an egg fried inside the hopper when it is half way through cooking. These are then filled with shredded coconut and chilli sambals and are often eaten by hand. In the pictures below you can see my egg hopper with beans, a side of fish curry and pol roti with spicy sambals, as well as my favourite breakfast at Galle Face; string hoppers (thin rice “noodles”) with dhal, chickpeas and more of those lovely sambals.
All the staff were wonderful, especially the concierge who was more than helpful when I was trying to remember which restaurant I had booked for which night (!) and also helped me arrange my taxi back to the airport when it was time for me to leave and meet my family. I appreciated that he had warned me about common taxi scams and I was able to avoid being ripped off when the driver tried to do so!
They also have a wonderful museum filled with memorabilia from famous guests who have visited and even have the car that Prince Philip used whilst he was stationed in Colombo!
I love staying in Heritage Hotels wherever possible and disappointment about my lack of a sea view aside, the Galle Face is a very special hotel and one I am delighted to have stayed at.
Galle Face Hotel, 2 Galle Road, Colombo 3, Sri Lanka.
Tel: +(94) 11 254 1010 – Fax: +(94) 11 254 1072