Living Colombo’s romantic history

The Shangri-La Colombo wraps Sri Lanka’s bursting romantic history in one delightful package

By Akansha Dean


It is difficult to believe that we are quite in the center of the bustling city. Overlooking the Galle Face promenade boasting matchless views of the Indian Ocean, Beira Lake and the Colombo city skyline, this extravagant hotel brings along a fresh level of romance to this flourishing metropolitan city.

I walk around the huge property and discover a sort of a cosmic diagram, glistening the relation of life with the infinite.

As I make my way deeper into the property, it reveals its treasures, sprinkled with intricately carved local art, especially in its biggest event space range counting Colombo’s largest pillar-less ballroom.

All this enclosed by glorious colonial buildings, acting as touching reminders of Sri Lanka’s charming history. Shangri-La Colombo is personification of uber-luxury on an island rising with five-star hotels.

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Ayubowan – a warm welcome

The manicured driveway, meters from the bright blue ocean! The smart doorman smiles and greets me at the entrance in local lingo, ‘Ayubowan’ which translates into Long Life.

Good first impressions? I would say they succeed. From my arrival in the grand foyer, filled with marble, exquisite chandeliers and contemporary craftsmanship, I already love it.

The Sapphyr lounge adjacent to the lobby with sea side views from its panoramic windows grabs my attention immediately and beckons me to stop by for a drink before I actually head up to my room.

I am absolutely refreshed after my Ceylon tea and local goodies served in a multi-tier curate stand! Colombo…now we are talking!

A slick check in replete with the obligatory hand towel and coconut water as welcome drink, I am escorted to my Horizon Club room which looks beautiful, warm and personal, with the blue colors matching the uninterrupted views of the Ocean.

With a part of the wall that has some local touch in design, it is stocked with amenities such as a mini bar, electronic safe, a flat screen and more.

The comfortable couch and different kinds of pillows to choose from makes sure that you have a good sleep after a long day. Everything is as it should be.

One of the many benefits you get as a revered guest of the Club Floor is admission to the superlative Horizon Club Lounge on the 32nd floor which includes complimentary tea and small bites through the day and happy hours in the evening to which I am fervent to add a couple of glasses of Champagne.

The canapes can also be replenished upon request should you wish to enjoy any one of them in excess -the Mezze is quite decadent!


It is impossible to sum up the Shangri-La experience and not mention the in-house Chi Spa. I start with the Jacuzzi allowing the gentle warmth to calm my mind and body.

I go for the Swedish massage. The soft and gentle strokes put me into a peaceful snooze, a reason why this massage is particularly beneficial for those who find it difficult to shut eye especially after a day of travel and excitement.

Not only did this massage restore the shine on my skin but it also relieved mental and physical stress both as a result of soothing aromas and medium pressure given on pressure points over the entire body.

This is Colombo’s pit stop of relaxation, indulgence and beatification. Go go go!

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The highlight of my stay here, apart from the ambience and the view was definitely the food. With Six different restaurants and bars dotted across the hotel, I am spoilt for choice!

Central is my favorite haunt at breakfast every morning and it doesn’t fail with its intriguing mix of local, traditional traveller’s fare and new age cooking and delights me no end as I watch the chefs whip me an egg hopper every morning.

The hotel also has other stunning dining options like Shang Palace which is Cantonese-style, with forays into the provinces of Sichuan and Hunan.

Dim sum here is refined and divine; Peking duck comes on the bone with lustrous lacquered skin. The Capital Bar and Grill has ruined me for life.

This grill bar specializes in cooking with the freshest locally sourced ingredients prepared using western techniques.

Emphasis here seemed to be on lingering and lounging albeit elegantly so I feel free to recline while taking in the stunning saxophone music!


The three days at Shangri-La merged into a blur of long, relaxing days. This is a space that you can make what you want, a hideaway or a party place…Either way, its lovely!

For the shopaholics, the adjacent high end shopping mall can keep you busy. Personally, they have me with its opulent interiors, a perfect blend of contemporary and local design, blended in so beautifully!

Verdict: A new level of luxury

Fact File

Where: Shangri-La Hotel, Colombo, 1, Galle Face, Colombo 2, Sri Lanka

Tel: + 94 11 788 7197/788 8288



(Akanksha Dean is an independent Indian chef & food & travel writer, who has trained at the famous Osteria Francescana restaurant in Modena, Italy)

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