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Galle Face Hotel, Sri Lanka

A Colombo landmark that’s welcomed royalty as well as Hollywood’s finest, this hotel is a heritage treasure

By Galle Face Hotel
Published 9 Apr 2019, 00:03 BST, Updated 19 Jul 2021, 14:14 BST
Ocean view from the terrace
Ocean view from the terrace

South Asia’s leading grande dame, the Galle Face Hotel, blends historical splendour with modernity, paying homage to both Sri Lanka’s colonial past and its independent present.

International guests are immersed in the property’s rich traditions and compelling stories, while among Colombo society it’s the most prestigious destination for memorable dining and special events. Whether you come for dinner or for an extended stay, an experience of the Galle Face Hotel is unforgettable.

Celebrating its 155-year anniversary in 2019, the Galle Face Hotel is a Sri Lankan landmark. In 2012, it became the first hotel in the country to feature on a postage stamp, and was also named one of the best heritage Hotels in Sri Lanka.

The property was opened in 1864 by four British entrepreneurs; today, the rooms in the north wing have been completely reimagined for the 21st century. A new addition is the Long Room, a spacious, ocean-view executive lounge that sits at the upper end of the hotel’s accommodation options, while a new conservatory with towering arched doors now links the Grand Ballroom with the Jubilee Ballroom.

It’s claimed that the Galle Face is the oldest hotel east of the Suez still in operation today. Its handwritten guest book includes a long list of heads of state and royalty, as well as popular entertainment industry figures, including actress Vivien Leigh, of Gone with the Wind fame.

The first crate of Pimms ever imported from the British Empire was sent to the Galle Face Hotel. And while those original bottles have long since been drunk, Pimms is still served at The Chequerboard bar, where Queen Elizabeth II once hosted a celebration during the Second World War, and where today visitors will find the best views of the sunset.

Guests can find out more about the hotel on a dedicated history tour, as well as in the property’s library and museum, which features Prince Philip’s first car, bought during the Second World War.

For a photo opportunity, don’t miss the Galle Face Hotel’s flag-lowering ceremony, which takes place while the sunset is in all its glory, with a bagpiper playing as he marches over to lower the Sri Lankan flag. This is a property that truly embraces history, with a bright future ahead of it too.

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