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Colombo's grand old lady — the Galle Face Hotel

Galle Face

 

"So pleasant a change from the dreary ordinariness of most modern hotels. This is an Island of charm on a charming Island."
Simon Winchester, author and journalist 

 

The Galle Face Hotel was established in 1864, five years before the Suez Canal came into operation. A journey through the Suez Canal was a breakthrough in every respect, and from 1869 onwards the Galle Face was commonly hailed as "the most luxurious hotel East of Suez".

It is – together with the legendary hotels of the former British colonies like the Taj Mahal in Mumbai, the Strand in Yangon, Eastern and Oriental Hotel in Georgetown on the island of Penang and Raffles in Singapore – one of the most exquisite hotels of South East Asia. If you add The Oriental in Bangkok, the Metropole in Hanoi, The Peninsula in Hong Kong, the Manila in Manila and the Imperial in Tokyo, you have completed the list of all "the maidens of the East".

The Galle Face has been hailed as a masterpiece of Victorian Architecture. It resembles a stately home, prominently located at the Indian Oceanfront and the "Galle Face Green", so called because this side of the lawn is "facing Galle", the city in the South of Sri Lanka. 

 

Above: Terrace in 1907, below, Pool today

 

Its location right at the Indian Ocean has made it one of the most famous and charming hangovers of colonial manners and services. It was the focal point of British colonial life style in the island for almost one century. Today it is the revolving point of Colomob's elegant, young and energetic society. The hotel has been patronized by some of the most famous names of the past centuries, among them the Emperor of Japan and Germany, pop- and movie stars and travel writers. The hotel is owned by the Gardiner family for generations. This seems to safeguard the old magic.

 


Established in 1864 it soon became one of the most exquisite hotels east of Suez. The Galle Face has been hailed as a masterpiece of Victorian Architecture. It resembles a stately home facing the Indian Ocean.

As a charming hangover of colonial manners and services it was the focal point of British colonial life style in the island for almost one century. The hotel has been patronized by some of the most famous names of the 20th century and the granite plaque in the lobby gives a list of some of these persons i.e. Don Bradman, Indira Gandhi, Imran Khan, Alfred Karupp. The hotel is owned by the Gardiner family for generations. This seems to safeguard that the old magic remains.

No wonder many writers have exclaimed that the GFH is one of the few un-spoilt hotels, left in the world. The hotel, having survived the 19th and 20th centuries is now set to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

Since 2005 the new Regency Wing is completed.

THE MOST FAMOUS HOTELS IN THE WORLD are conducting research about the history of the hotel, as a result this database will be updated on a regular base.

Ths list is endless: To name but a few, here we have Richard Nixon, Indira Gandhi, Jawaharlal Neru, Emperor Hirohito, Don Bradman, Roger Moore and the legend Yuri Gagarin.

And that is what they have said:

Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan: "Happiness is the Galle Face Hotel"

Lord Mayor - Brisbane Sally Anne Atkinson: "7 days at the Galle Face Hotel was bliss. To stay longer would be heaven, an exalted state to which I'm aiming"

Business Traveller Alan Moores: "If the Galle Face Hotel (Asia's Emareld on the Green - Grande dame of Serendib) endures it is largely due to the charm and sagacity of its venerable Chairman Cyril Gardiner"

Pakistani Prime Minister Ali Bhutto: "It was a great pleasure for me to return to this famous Hotel after 13 Years"

Australian Business Review Weekly's (BRW) Eric Ellis: "Forward letter to Cyril Gardiner - he will reply in the most gracious language". The GFH has nothing of the impersonal sameness of the Hiltons, Hyatts and the Sheratons.

London "Independent": "It is worth visiting Sri Lanka just to see the Galle Face Hotel"

Simon Winchester: "No wonder the Galle Face is regarded with such affection all around the world" the author and journalist wrote on his own experience "So pleasant a change from the dreary ordinariness of most modern hotels. This is an Island of charm on a charming Island."

The late doorman Kuttan was one of the longest serving employees at the hotel since 1942.
He still remembered (and used to tell the story with great gestures) the day when - during World War II - a Japanese Zero fighter grounded in front of the hotel on the large green field, called the Galle Face.

Lalith Rodrigo Esq.
Josephine Anders
Rajiv Khanna
Chandra Mohotti

156 rooms and suites Rooms

Royal Suites

These suites are probably the largest in any hotel in the city.

The rooms offer the guest a magnificent direct view of the Indian Ocean. They are air-conditioned, and equipped with a mini-bar, refrigerator, TV and IDD telephone facilities. Direct sea view with the a/c, T.V. attached private bathroom with the hot/cold water, hair drier and local/IDD facilities direct from the room.

After having taken a photograph with doorman legend Kuttan, retire to the garden where a stunning view awaits you. Stunning Sunsets

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Experience a typical English high tea on the Veranda facing the sea and enjoy the dramatic Indian Ocean sunset with a cocktail..

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Enjoy dramatic Sunsets with your cocktails. At the Galle Face Hotel there is no escaping a spectacular Sunset. And there's no better way to drink-in nature's splendour than to relax with one of Galle Face Hotel's bestseller cocktails. A popular spot is the Checkered Floor area in the open air in the centre of the garden Later experience the new Wione Lounge: Leading off from the main lobby of the Galle Face Hotel - Regency, the Wine Lounge is designed to pay tribute to the hotel's grand history. Inspired by elements of nature, its teak wood floors and wall panelling set the tone. The unusual blend of fabrics used in the interior design, the lighting in fire colours of red, orange and yellow, and the spectacular view combine to create a mood of elegance and intimate luxury. The music is ethnic, and chosen to create a sense of haunting mystique unique to Galle Face Hotel. The Wine Lounge is more than a place to savour your favourite vintage with friends. It is a lifestyle experience for lovers of fine wines, cheeses and cigars.

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The hotel now has its own museum, with Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh's first private car on display.

Galle Face Hotel Spa, a 20,000 sq. ft. spa inclusive of Colombo's largest saltwater swimming pool and gymnasium

The once largest ballroom East of Suez is at your disposal

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Our Select Member Hotel

Galle Face
Country: Sri Lanka
City: Colombo
Opening date: 1864

Note from the Host

General Manager

Allow me to welcome you at the most iconic hotel of South East Asia. Our history goes back to the middle of the 19th century, but our tradtion of great hospitality is most contemporary! I am confident that you will enjoy your stay at the Galle Face Hotel.

Robert C. Hauck


Coordinates

2, Galle Road
3 Sri Lanka, Colombo

Tel: 941 12541010/16 (941) 12543565/77
Fax: (941) 12541072/74

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