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“Gorgeous, old hotel - beware which room you get, and service just average”

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Galle Face Hotel Colombo
Ranked #5 of 54 Hotels in Colombo
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed June 4, 2011

What a beautiful, stylish property in a perfect location! The checkerboard bar out by the water, the beautiful pool, the sea spray crashing up against the rocks, the high ceilings and old mementos from colonial times... it's just our kind of place! But the first night we stayed, in the old wing at the lowest rate, we were given a room with no style, two twin beds pushed together, and a bathroom with water that came out brown. Yuck. On our second stay, we stayed in the new wing, and got a stunning room with a balcony for only a few more dollars. It's well worth it. This room was gorgeous and renovated. This is the rare situation where I recommend staying in the new wing, or shelling out for an upgraded room in the old wing. The service was strange. Some people were incredibly helpful, and others couldn't be bothered. The concierge sent us to a mall, after being told we didn't want on-the-beaten-path shopping. The reception desk when asked if they could make change to US dollars, knowing we were leaving for the airport right away, left us sitting there for 20 minutes only to tell us they couldn't do that and it was illegal (really!?!). It is a great property, and it could be perfect if they would fix service and room quality issues. Still, I'd rather stay there than some generic chain hotel.l

Room Tip: New wing!!! Skip the old wing.
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  • Stayed: May 2011, traveled as a couple
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Thank AMBUWS29
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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2,508 - 2,514 of 3,045 reviews

Reviewed May 27, 2011

We stayed here because of the hotel's history. We had some initial problem with the room class when we arrived - agency issue not the hotel's but the hotel stepped up and got us the suite we thought we booked on the second night. The hotel is loaded with history/character and we found the service good and the restaurants great. We should have booked this hotel ourselves and avoided the check-in problem. There is a great pool and the hotel is located right on the water

  • Stayed: December 2010, traveled as a couple
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Thank Travel_Pin_Man
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 27, 2011

A group of friends stayed at this hotel - unfortunately - in the old wing. While being in the old wing meant that we had to put up with very musty carpets and really old fixtures which were not maintained well, we sort of expected that - since it was part of the 'charm' of the hotel. But that was not why all 4 of us who stayed at this hotel came away with a bad taste.

It was the pathetically poor service from the waiters , to the staff at the transport desk. While there were one or two wait staff who responded efficiently, most staff seemed to specialize at the art of looking the other way when customers required any service. Anything and everything took doubly long in this hotel to get done. And it was always "someone else" we needed to speak to , to get it done.

As to the transport desk staff - that was really our breaking point. He was downright rude when approached to arrange transport to the airport and appeared not to care less about customers waiting in line to request his service to arrange transport. It was easily the most exasperating experience I have ever had in dealing with a service staff of any hotel I have ever been to. I was later told by the night manager that the transport desk was out sourced to a private company and they have the monopoly over the taxi service. Unforunate, since no matter how good a hotel is, the last impression anyone gets about the hotel is the ride to the airport - and this clown is the one they have to deal with !

Anyway, it is simple a magnificently beautiful hotel, manned by the most incompetent lot of service staff, and the only reason it is busy is that you probably will not get the ambience and feel that this hotel gives you anyhere else in Colombo - so everyone who goes to Colombo, has to at least visit this hotel once - so this hotel will always be busy - and not worry about treating their clients well. After all, more will certainly keep coming.

My advise - stay elsewhere - and go to the hotel bar by the beach (Sea Spray) for a drink in the evening. But most important of all STAY ELSEWHERE !

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Thank VROOM88
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 20, 2011

I first stayed here nearly ten years ago and adored it. I loved the whole colonial vibe (and still do for that matter). But if don't fork out for the better rooms you may well be disappointed (the pics from some of the other reviewers who stayed in the cheaper chambers are really quite ghastly). I like the saltwater pool and the outdoor restaurant (great food but I once saw a huge rat running around - that wasn't so cool; saw quite a few when living in Colombo). Anyway, the bar's great and overall I still prefer the Galle Face to the Hilton across the Green. That is really, really average. Boring with a captial B.

  • Stayed: August 2010, traveled solo
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Thank golfer78
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 16, 2011

Nice 'Grand Dame' of Colombo. Staff fairly inconsistent but food and drinks good quality. Pool is lovely overlooking the crashing waves. Pool not good for kids, very deep! Not really a family hotel, but there are plenty of plastic chain hotels in town if you prefer that kind of thing. Babysitting service available at a very reasonable rate. Overall a pleasant stay.

  • Stayed: May 2011, traveled with family
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Thank LizzieKY
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 12, 2011

This was the last night of a two week honeymoon in Sri Lanka and I had paid $250 extra to be put into their best room (Regency side). There are 2 incredible rooms with balconies overlooking the pool which faces the Indian Ocean. The main selling point for us was the hot tub on the balcony and the idea of having a drink in it while watching the sunset on the Indian Ocean. If the hot tub wasn't broken, I would've given the Galle Face Hotel 5 stars.

My main issue was the fact that I had engineers working on the broken hot tub while we watched the sunset. It was bothersome because it was broken before we arrived and they couldn't fix it and spent several hours trying without the management getting involved, even though we called them a few times to see what was happening. It wasn't until I called our driver William, who then called our tour operator, Vinod of Paragon Holidays (they are awesome btw), that things changed for the better for us. The hotel manager finally came to the room and realized the debacle we had been presented with and offered us a late check out including a free lunch to make up for it, which was ok but not great.

The room itself was unreal. It was huge, comfortable and had the most amazing views from the enormous patio. the hotel pool was packed so we didn't spend much time there. We did enjoy the Veranda restaurant as the food selection in the buffet was very good. We really loved the room at this landmark hotel and would come back in a heartbeat.

Room Tip: get one of the rooms with the balcony
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  • Stayed: March 2011, traveled as a couple
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Thank Gimper90
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 7, 2011

We spent two nights at the Galle Face Hotel (old section) at the beginning and end of our week long stay in Sri Lanka. The first room (214) was HUGE (probably 25'x25') and fabulous. It was above the entrance, so we had views of the green next door and the ocean. The bathroom was redone and very nice size and there was even a separate room with a little table and stocked refrigerator. We had breakfast at the buffet the next morning and though I hate buffets - both my hubby and I loved it! We were with friends and they also really enjoyed the breakfast buffet. They stayed in the new section and they said their room was "OK".

Well the second room we got was an absolute nightmare. It was the night of the cricket finals between Sri Lanka and UK and the hotel was booked. When we got to the room, I wouldn't even sit on the bed and told my husband to call the front desk as I refused to stay in the room. It was at the front of the building right next to the busy road and was extremely loud. The room was dilapidated, stained and dirty (see pics) - not that they didn't clean the room - just run down dirty. IF I had not stayed in the other room, I would NEVER recommend this hotel. The hotel was very nice and moved us (we had to wait a couple of hours while they made it up). The room was better than the room we left but not half as nice as the room we had the first time. I went to turn on the light and got a shock. Also, we had to leave at 7am the next morning and the restaurant was not open until 8am which I thought was a little odd for such a large hotel.

Our friends stayed in the new section in an "upgraded" room (twice what they spent on the previous room) and it was really nice. Balcony looking over the pool/eating area out to the ocean, clean, all recently redone.

So, would I go back? Yes, but would make sure I got a refurbished room in the older section.

Room Tip: Get the refurbished rooms in the old section.
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  • Stayed: March 2011, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank franztini
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
Amenities:
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 #5 of 54 Hotels in Colombo
Price Range: $159 - $407 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Galle Face Hotel Colombo 5*
Number of rooms: 156
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 158 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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