Galle Face Hotel, Sri Lanka
Written by Oryx
One of Asia’s most historic luxury hotels recaptures its bygone allure.
More than 150 years after its debut on the Indian Ocean seafront, Galle Face Hotel has unveiled a restoration of its 72 North Wing rooms and suites, bars and restaurants, lobby, and ballrooms, and added a new executive lounge.
Four British entrepreneurs opened the Colombo hotel in 1864, positioning it as a pivotal player in Sri Lanka’s history. The hotel’s handwritten guest book includes a long list of heads of state and royalty, as well as notables such as Vivien Leigh of Gone With the Wind fame, and writer and inventor Sir Arthur C. Clarke.
North Wing rooms have been completely reimagined for the 21st century with an ocean-view executive lounge, The Long Room, spanning 25 metres, added for well-heeled suite guests; a new conservatory with towering arched doors links the Grand Ballroom with the Jubilee Ballroom.
Each guestroom features striking new interiors and classic mahogany furnishings. Stylish grey marble cases the bathroom walls, and 21 rooms now feature private balconies with sea views.
In addition, Galle Face Hotel unveiled its 120m2 signature suite, the Empress Eugenie Suite. Named after one of the hotel’s most illustrious guests, its 60m2 terrace consumes the roof of the hotel’s iconic carriage porch, a restored architectural feature that pays homage to the structure’s original façade.
The Verandah restaurant has also doubled in size, with two levels of spacious wooden terrace seating and a permanent roof that doubles as the balcony and rooftop garden of The Long Room.
Galle Face Hotel offers history tours for in-house guests. The half-hour tour unveils hidden art from a famous painter, ushers guests into storied spaces not normally open to the public, and shares numerous tales of famous visitors, which have included Harrison Ford, who was a guest while shooting Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom; Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space; and even Mark Twain.
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Distance: 3,631 km
Flight Time: 4 hours, 45 minutes
Frequency: 3 flights a day