Halfway up the Indian Ocean island’s west coast, and home to around six million people, in recent years Colombo has emerged as a cosmopolitan metropolis, fusing Asian warmth with international influences to create a humming city that is positively booming with new businesses and entrepreneurial start-ups. Close to reclaiming its 19th century nickname of ‘the garden city of the East’, Colombo is now a must-visit destination within Sri Lanka, and has become a worthy tourist hotspot in its own right. Visitors are drawn to the Sri Lankan capital by its fascinating heritage, colonial monuments, culture at every turn and hospitable locals, together with some of Asia’s best restaurants, all encompassed within a bustling city that exudes a town-like warmth and authenticity.
A city break cannot happen without a good base and quality lodgings to rest one’s head, and whilst Colombo has an abundance of independent, boutique and historic hotels to choose from, until very recently the Sri Lankan capital was noticeably lacking in a world-class premium hospitality offering. The opening of a Shangri-La hotel, at no.1 Centre Road in Galle Face, has changed all this, and now provides a year-round upscale hospitality hub for overseas visitors, providing easy access to all parts of the charismatic capital from its central location.
Inspired by the legendary land featured in James Hilton’s 1933 novel, Lost Horizon, Hong Kong-based Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts is one of Asia Pacific’s leading luxury hotel groups, and has grown to encapsulate a high level of serenity and service for which the brand’s hotels and resorts are now renowned worldwide. Despite only very recently opening, such high standards are already evident throughout the brand’s new Colombo property, which positively oozes sophistication, attentive service and attention to detail from the moment one steps into the soaring, opulent lobby.
Combining modern luxury and genuine hospitality with authentic Sri Lankan charm, Shangri-La’s new Colombo outpost is home to more than 500 guest rooms, 34 suites and 41 serviced apartments, all boasting uninterrupted views of the Indian Ocean, Beira Lake or the city skyline. All accommodations are decorated in a luxe and smart yet warm and inviting colour palate of teal and brown to reflect the coastal surroundings. And sumptuous soft furnishings, silk drapes, beautiful artworks and Sri Lankan touches abound, complementing the magnificent vistas. Bathrooms in every category are lined in marble. Rooms range in size from entry level 42m2 to the hotel’s premium 210m2 Shangri-La Suite, which boasts three bedrooms and unparalleled sea views. Every suite has a private covered terrace large enough to dine al fresco.
Occupying the top three floors are the hotel’s Horizon Club rooms which offer a host of added benefits, including in-room check-in, complimentary breakfast and evening cocktails, a dedicated concierge service and access to the 32nd floor Horizon Club – the city’s only exclusive high-rise lounge with direct ocean views.
The hotel’s gastronomic offerings truly set Shangri-La Colombo apart from the rest of the city’s five-star properties. The hotel’s premium eatery, Shang Palace, serves traditional Sichuan, Dongbei and Cantonese cuisine in a fine dining setting, with a custom-made duck oven taking centre stage. Meanwhile, celebrity chef Dharshan Munidasa’s Sri Lankan-themed Kaema Sutra restaurant and bar, utilises the island’s aromatic spices, rich ingredients and traditional cooking techniques to create authentic dishes from various regions of the country. And the stylish Capital Bar & Grill serves steaks, grilled seafood and the city’s most extensive whisky selection, complemented by live jazz.
For those needing to unwind after a day of sightseeing, the hotel’s onsite CHI spa offers seven treatment rooms and a selection of traditional Sri Lankan and East Asian therapies, and is situated adjacent to a well-equipped 24-hour gym, sprawling sun terrace and large swimming pool overlooking the Indian Ocean and Galle Face Green.
In short, Shangri-La’s new urban destination hotel, in the heart of the vibrant Sri Lankan capital, offers everything a discerning traveller could possibly need when visiting Colombo.