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.
- 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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