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“Standard has dropped dramatically” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Galle Face Hotel Colombo

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Galle Face Hotel Colombo
4.0 of 5 Hotel   |   No. 2, Galle Road, Colombo, Sri Lanka   |  
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Hotel amenities
Ranked #15 of 35 Hotels in Colombo
Melbourne, Australia
Senior Contributor
27 reviews 27 reviews
23 hotel reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
19 helpful votes 19 helpful votes
“Standard has dropped dramatically”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed March 23, 2012

Just returned from 10 days in Sri Lanka - stayed at the Galle Face at the beginning and end of our visit. Very disappointed esp as a returning guest. Travelled with a group of 6 - 4 who were first time visitors. Our flight arrive after midnight so we arranged a hotel airport pick up. At that time of the night, there is next to no traffic in Colombo so the trip to the hotel should be relatively quick (30-40mins). Our driver was extremely slow, in fact I think he was half alseep, as he kept slowing down for non-existent speed bumps and our journey took almost 1 hour with no traffic.

Despite making our reservation months ago for rooms in the Regency wing (renovated modern side), when three of us arrived I was told no room was available for me on the Regency side and so I was allocated an upgraded room in the Classic wing. Thankfully the hotel has started to renovate the rooms in the Classic wing (although I think most are still unrenovated) so my room was surprisingly good although I had to ask for the bathroom to be thoroughly cleaned (someone else's hair/whiskers in the washbasin/one the floor and dental floss on the floor - gross). Also one of our party was given a twin room, despite a reservation for a standard room which is normally a DB/QB - he was not happy as he's over 6ft 3' - and when I asked the hotel they said that I should have specified that on the booking.

Upon our return a couple days later, several things happened. Two of us were allocated smoking rooms which smelt like ashtrays. As non-smokers, this was extremely unpleasant but when asked to be moved, we were told that smoking rooms were standard unless requested (only the ground floor rooms are non-smoking all other rooms were smoking rooms). However in my dealings with the reservation department this was never mentioned and the booking form never stated there was a non/smoking room option. My previous visits, this had never been a problem and most other hotels I have stayed in around the world, non-smoking is the standard or non/smoking is clearly stated on the booking form. I was allocated another room but as the hotel was very full, it wasn't easy and I had to change rooms again the following morning.

My new room was fine except the electricity kept cutting out and for several hours each day (for 3 days). The room is strangely wired - the lights to the bathroom, two lamps and the power points worked fine but I had no power to the a/c, main lights in the room, TV. Despite making a call to reception for this to be looked at, after waiting 90 minutes I left and sat in the lobby as it was too dark in my room. One of our other rooms had plumbing issues with the toilet and so had workmen in their room for a couple of hours on their first evening.

The other issue we had was the wifi access. There was a problem with the wifi for several hours on one particular day so you could log into the wifi access but not access internet at all. I came across several other guests in the hotel who were having similar problems as we were all in the business centre trying to get online. And unless you complained, the hotel still charged the access fee. This may be due to poor communications - their IT dept should notify the front desk that no guests should be charged for internet for that particular time period, which would be the standard procedure in most hotels with wifi issues. Also ensure you log out of the wifi access, as if you don't log out properly, you'll be charged for the access time.

Tourism is booming in Sri Lanka (good for the local economy) but I don't think that the hotel is coping with the demand - on the weekends the hotel appears to be fully booked, often with several bus loads of tourists so it is sometimes difficult to get a table for breakfast or dinner. Recommend booking a table for meals but this is inconvenient if you're unsure of your timetable and also annoying when your room rate includes breakfast and/or dinner or both. The tour buses also impact the carpark situation, blocking access.

I think too the staff here are overworked - many seem to be working 12+ hour shifts. You see some of them in the evening and then again mid-morning. Most staff try very hard to please, are extremely pleasant, work hard and you are always welcomed with a smile, esp the housekeeping staff, porters and concierge. If there is a problem, they do their best to fix it, but the problems seem to be occurring more often than not. Restaurant/bar staff are mixed - some are very attentive but at other times service can be very slow to almost non-existent. However there is a definite lack of consistency.

I think the hotel is need of a dramatic renovation and overhaul to ensure that the basics like electricity and plumbing are all upgraded and functioning, as these problems overshadow the basic old-school charm and tradition of the hotel. Especially as the room rate has gone up so dramatically over the years.

The other thing to note is that some of the hotel services are not run by the hotel itself - the car service and spa are outsourced to private companies so their staff may not receive the same work conditions as the hotel staff.

Overall I'm disappointed as this used to be one of my favourite hotels.

  • Stayed March 2012, traveled on business
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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1,236 reviews from our community

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  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
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Top Contributor
61 reviews 61 reviews
17 hotel reviews
Reviews in 22 cities Reviews in 22 cities
39 helpful votes 39 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed March 23, 2012

This is a old colonial style hotel filled with character and atmosphere which it should be credited for. We stayed in the Regency Wind during our first stay here at Galle Face Hotel after reading the reviews here at tripadvisor. Unfortunately we were not so happy with our stay at this hotel due to many reasons. To start with the best part of the stay I start with the room. Our room was big and spacious with a large comfortable bed but it still have a small 21" box TV with very poor reception which made it totally impossible to look on any programs. The bathroom was very comfortable and well equipped and had nothing more to be asked for.
Now over to the things which we were not so pleased with;
Even if it is many rooms in the Regency wing it's only serviced by one elevator which mean that you can be standing quite some time to wait for it to arrive during peak usage hour. The staff in general were not very helpful and attentive and at times they seemed quite uninterested in their duties. The breakfast buffe at the veranda is supposed to start at 7:00, quite late considering many of the guests have a busy program either with business or touring, but it was not up and running until 7:20. The garden is filled with black birds and also with what comes with them in respect of droppings which is not so nice. Our worst experience during our stay, however was when we enjoyed our sunset drinks at the pool bar and a big fat RAT!!!! came running infront of our feets. The cleanliness rating bellow is due to the poor cleanliness in garden and public areas but the room was very clean.
I don't think I will stay at Galle Face Hotel again even if it has a lot of character as you can find much better hotels with much better service in Colombo.

  • Stayed March 2012, traveled with friends
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bangkok, Thailand
Top Contributor
79 reviews 79 reviews
29 hotel reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
103 helpful votes 103 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 22, 2012

This was my second trip within two years and the Galle Face is really an awesome hotel with close to 200 years in existence. The service is alright and the staffs at times tend to be complaisant but the hotel and the history, not to mention the location compensate for any short coming.
The hotel needs to upgrade as my room still had an old box like T.V which was very difficult to watch. The Deli offers sandwiches and pastries which are not at all of good quality and do not do justice to such a wonderful hotel. To add to that the staff at the Deli were aloof and totally uninterested in serving customers.
That being said, Galle Face is special and I would go back, next time prepared for the lacklustre service.

  • Stayed March 2012, traveled with friends
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Woking, United Kingdom
Senior Contributor
47 reviews 47 reviews
23 hotel reviews
Reviews in 26 cities Reviews in 26 cities
29 helpful votes 29 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 21, 2012

Stay in the Regency wing - it's much nicer! The hotel has an old collonial atmosphere and the staff we met were most attentive. The buffet dinner can get quite busy so it makes sense to reserve a table if you want to eat there. It was a typical buffet dinner with some good choices and a completely inedible mutton curry but that didn't matter as there was pleny of other food from which to select a very good meal. Breakfast was also a buffet and again a wide selection which should please anyone. It's in a good location in Colombo (not that there's a great deal to see in Colombo) - the centre area is only a short walk away along the sea front.

  • Stayed March 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
20 reviews 20 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed March 16, 2012

This was the first of a number of hotels we stayed in during our holiday and whilst I fully agree with other reviewers regarding the history and location it did not meet our expectations. Arriving quite early in the morning after a long flight we had fully expected that our rooms would not be ready when we arrived but some of our group were still waiting to access rooms at 15.30. The rooms were fine, clean and a good size. The food we had at the hotel was of good quality, the breakfasts are very good with a very varied selection. However the hotel does get very busy on an evening which can make it quite difficult to obtain seating for drinks and/or meals. Overall the service we received from staff was very good however this was let down on occasion by some staff working in the pool area who quite frankly bordered on being rude with some customers. The hotel has a nice feel about it and is full of character. As we left before breakfast the hotel provided substancial food boxes for the whole group which again reflects how good the service was in some aspects. Compared to other hotels we stayed in I think a fair assessment is that hotel sits in between an average to a good hotel but no more than that.

  • Stayed February 2012, traveled with friends
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed March 16, 2012 via mobile

Bad experience...stayed for 2 weeks at the old wing. The room looked very old and not adequately maintained.

The worst part was the internal coordination between reception, restaurant, and concierge.

No matter how I addressed many times that my room was booked as bed and breakfast, no changes was made until I checked out. No one was bothered to double check and sort out the issue even though they knew that I came for breakfast every morning for the whole 2 weeks.

One night, in the middle of the night, I was awakened by the hotel staff due to water leaking caused by heavy rain. They woke me up just to mop the wooden floor inside my room.

Upon check out, it took me 30 minutes just to get a hotel car to take me to the airport, despite I informed the reception twice; first in the morning and second at 6pm to arrange the car at 22.30. Nobody seemed to care of what happpened. What a shame !!!

  • Stayed March 2012
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Tokyo, Japan
13 reviews 13 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed March 13, 2012

I'm half Sri Lankan, and I was embarrassed at how bad the tea was at The Veranda.
I read several reviews before visiting The Veranda for High Tea at Galle Face Hotel and was rather disappointed.
The Food was excellent but the tea and service did not meet my expectation.

We were escorted to our table and our server just left without explaining anything to us whether someone was coming to ask for our tea order or not. We flagged someone and asked for our teas and coffee. Now the tea was colored almost black like coffee and it wasn't freshly made and bitter like the tea bags sat in the pot too long that you could only drink it with milk and not straight which we all preferred.

Iced Coffee was great if you like sweet iced coffee. It tased close to the bottled Starbucks Frappuccino. It was in the drink servers by the buffet area. They even had iced tea in the servers as well. There were many kinds of tea sandwiches, 2 different pastas cooked to your liking, meat pies, pizza, roast, and many more. The desserts were fabulous as well.

If their tea was good, service better, and more ceiling fans working, I would give them an Excellent for the rating but since I went for High Tea but couldn't get descent tea and it was way too uncomfortable with many of the fans mulfunctioning I am only able to give an average rating.

  • Stayed March 2012, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Galle Face Hotel Colombo

Address: No. 2, Galle Road, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Phone Number:
Location: Sri Lanka > Western Province > Colombo
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #15 of 35 Hotels in Colombo
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:4 star — Galle Face Hotel Colombo 4*
Number of rooms: 82
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Presented proudly as Sri Lanka's iconic and historic hotel, Galle Face Hotel is located in heart of Colombo City, along the seafront and facing the famous Galle Face Green.The hotel has 82 well-appointed rooms and suites, with some offering excellent views across the Indian ocean and the fascinating view of evening sunset.There are three restaurants, a gym, spa and unique saltwater swimming pool, overlooking the seafront. Guests here will be convenient as the hotel offers close access to many of the business district,historic cultural sites and landmarks in Colombo, as well nearby shopping. The hotel is a 45-60min journey from the airport.Guests seeking a glimpse of Colombo's history will enjoy the charm of The Galle Face Hotel with its unique, unaltered setting since 1864. ... more   less 
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