Galle Face Hotel, Colombo


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.

2 - Intro Galle Face Hotel

Historic postcard of Galle Face Hotel in the 1910s.

3 - Galle Face Hotel

Close-up of the central building of the hotel.

4 - Ante-Lobby

Ante-lobby with Batavian/Dutch-Ceylonese-style Burgomeister’s Chairs.

5 - Ante-lobby

View down the ante-lobby, with langourously spinning ceiling fans.

6 - Lobby

Lobby of the Galle Face Hotel.

7 - Second Floor lobby

The second floor landing.

8 - Room

My guest room…

9 - View from Room

View of the hotel and the sea from my balcony.

10 - View from Room

View of the hotel from my balcony.

11 - View from Room

View of the sea from my balcony.

12 - Breakfast Area

The famous Verandah, where for more than a century, writers and other luminaries have dined.

13 - Pool

The swimming pool right at the edge of the Indian ocean.

14 - Breakfast Area

Breakfast at The Verandah.

15 - Hoppers

Traditional Sri Lankan egg hopper for breakfast.

16 - Idly

String hoppers (idiyappam) with fish curry.

17 - Looking out

The Chequerboard, where one can have a meal over-looking the sea.

18 - TAbles by the Sea

Sea Spray

19 - Beach

The Hotel even has its own private beach, though swimming here is prohibited.

20 - Museum piece I

Vintage china with the Galle Face Hotel logo. Collection of the Galle Face Hotel Museum on the hotel’s premises.

21 - Bar Area

The Travellers’ Bar

22 - Evening

Sunset at the Galle Face Hotel.

23 - Galle Face Green

The Galle Face Hotel and Galle Face Court, on Galle Face Green.

24 - Galle Face Once More

Another timeless view of Galle Face Hotel.

25 - Goodbye Galle Face

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.
This entry was posted in Art & Architecture, Cities & Regions, Heritage, Landmarks & History, Photography, Travel & Mobility and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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