Every visitor to Colombo must make a point of spending at least one evening on the veranda of the charming Colonial style Galle Face Hotel, that faces the Indian Ocean, to watch the sun set whilst sipping a Gin and Tonic.
Entrance to the Colonial Style Colombo Galle Face Hotel
If you can afford the room rates, it is one of the best places to stay in Colombo. The word Galle is pronounced 'Gaul' just like in the name of old Celtic France before the Romans invaded. It is a very popular hotel so book early to be sure of reserving a room.
Although it was built in the British Colonial period the architectural style is not Neo-classical Georgian or high gothic Victorian. It is constructed in an Italian grand Renaissance style. It would look at home on the Italian or French Riviera.
It is located at 2 Galle Road and is one of Sri Lanka's oldest top quality hotels. You can go in just for afternoon tea or Lunch. You do not have to be a resident. Each room is full of old world charm that is brought to life by the exquisitely crafted old wooden furniture, large hand carved doors, black and white tiled floors, balconies and dramatic high ceilings.
Colombo Galle Face Hotel Frontage
The staff always look smart in their uniforms. The management is proud to point out that the Galle Face Hotel was the first to have electricity and an internal elevator. There has been constant restoration work to maintain the traditional elegant classic British Victorian design and feel to the interior rooms and public areas.
It was constructed in 1864 by a partnership of four British business men. Queen Victoria had been on the throne for 27 years. It started life as a much smaller Dutch Villa called 'Galle Face House'. The Hotel was built one section at a time over the next thirty years as land became available. Even back in the early Victorian period this part of Colombo was seen as prime real estate. The green open space in front of the hotel was much larger and included a race course, golf course and cricket, soccer, rugby and Polo pitch. There was a promenade along the ocean front.
Ladies and Gentlemen would 'take the air', either on horse back, in a horse drawn carriage or on foot, The hotel was an ideal place to take refreshments of stay the night. Over the years many celebrities have stayed at the hotel. These include Royalty, Prime Ministers and Politicians from around the globe, Hollywood and Bollywood film stars, a number of Billionaires plus the first man in space Yuri Gagarin.
Sunset patio for gin and tonic at the Colombo Galle Face Hotel
All the Taxis and Tuk-Tuk drivers know where the hotel is. When you come out of the hotel do not use any of the Tuk-tuks in the waiting rank on the other side of the road. They will charge you double the normal price and will not haggle. They know if they wait a little bit longer the next tourist will give them what they want because they are new to Sri Lanka, just of the aeroplane and unsure about haggling.
Walk up to the main road and just hail a passing Tuk-tuk who is not so greedy. Beware of the snake charmers on Galle Face Green. They will hustle you for money if you try to take a photo. They keep their snakes in cruel conditions and treat them poorly. Do not encourage them.