Galle Face Hotel, on Galle Face Green.
Finally… after some thirty cities on my Grand Tour, I’m here, at last, at the grandest of the grande dames East of Suez, the Galle Face Hotel Colombo.
Built in 1864 by four English gentlemen, Galle Face Hotel is believed to be the oldest purpose-built hotel in the East. Certainly, it inspired the likes of the Raffles Hotel, which came after it in 1887.
The hotel was initially a Dutch residence called Galle Face House, that had stood here on Galle Face Green. The equivalent of the Esplanade in Singapore, Galle Face Green had been tremendously popular with the English, who would take to it for walks or rides in horse-drawn carriages.
From 1894 to 1909, the Hotel continued to expand, becoming first a two storey building, and then erecting North and South wings to the central building.
Like many other of its equivalents, the Galle Face Hotel was the centre of Colombo’s social circle, playing host to royalty, heads of state, celebrities, writers, artists, sportsmen and other luminaries in its time. And it continues to do so today.
In the 2000s, the hotel underwent a major restoration and only recently re-opened in time for its 150th birthday in 2014. Interestingly, the Chairman of the hotel today is descended by one of the hotel’s 1911 shareholders.
Today, the Galle Face Hotel remains as magnificent as it once was in the early 1900s and I was delighted to stay here during my sojourn in Colombo.
Historic postcard of Galle Face Hotel in the 1910s.
Close-up of the central building of the hotel.
Ante-lobby with Batavian/Dutch-Ceylonese-style Burgomeister’s Chairs.
View down the ante-lobby, with langourously spinning ceiling fans.
Lobby of the Galle Face Hotel.
The second floor landing.
My guest room…
View of the hotel and the sea from my balcony.
View of the hotel from my balcony.
View of the sea from my balcony.
The famous Verandah, where for more than a century, writers and other luminaries have dined.
The swimming pool right at the edge of the Indian ocean.
Breakfast at The Verandah.
Traditional Sri Lankan egg hopper for breakfast.
String hoppers (idiyappam) with fish curry.
The Chequerboard, where one can have a meal over-looking the sea.
The Hotel even has its own private beach, though swimming here is prohibited.
Vintage china with the Galle Face Hotel logo. Collection of the Galle Face Hotel Museum on the hotel’s premises.
The Travellers’ Bar
Sunset at the Galle Face Hotel.
The Galle Face Hotel and Galle Face Court, on Galle Face Green.
Another timeless view of Galle Face Hotel.
And finally…goodbye Galle Face Hotel and goodbye Colombo!
Next step on The Grand Tour: Cochin (Kochi).
About Kennie Ting
I am a wandering cityophile and pattern-finder who is pathologically incapable of staying in one place for any long period of time. When I do, I see the place from different perspectives, obsessive-compulsively.