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Where to Stay in Colombo?
Colombo’s Fort area, a former military stronghold belonging to the Portuguese and the Dutch, is now the commercial hub of the city and where tourists head for to shop, eat, see the sights and sleep. You’ll also find the city’s main bazaar area, Pettah-Colombo, with its winding cobbled streets bustling with shoppers, and the former British military parade ground Galle Face Green here. Due to the competition, hotel pricing here is often negotiable and discounted rates are common in low season.
Just south of the Fort is the long, narrow Slave Island sitting at Beira Lake. This pretty spot is dotted with hotels and shops and is perfect for evening drinks as the sun sets. Its worth venturing outside the city 12km to head for Mount Lavinia’s famous beach which dates back to colonial [Sri Lanka] and is the location for the luxurious Mount Lavinia Hotel, once The Governor’s House.
Colombo Accommodation Options
There are plenty of hotels in the Fort area of the city, which is also home to President’s House, the official residence of the president of [Sri Lanka], and the country’s major bank HQs. The palatial Colombo Hilton sets the tone for hotels in the business district and has long been a social gathering place for the city’s bigwigs, its white tower blocks soaring above the Old Parliament Building. The Serendib Ballroom hosts regular city social functions and residents at the hotel have spa, gym and pool facilities. The hotel’s Curry Leaf Garden Restaurant is also a favourite haunt for the wealthy of Colombo.
A cluster of other five star establishments can be found in Fort area but you can also find cheap hotels here. The Asian Villa offers budget accommodation in the central business district and is just a stone’s throw from the shopping malls and the seafront promenade.
On the Galle Face, the colonial Galle Face Hotel attracts non-business travellers looking less for wifi access and more for the wow factor – its views are legendary.
Colombo Hotel Recommendations?
The Wallawwa in Kotugoda is popular with holidaymakers arriving and departing Sri Lanka as it’s close to the airport yet with a luxurious, boutique feel a world away from how you would perceive an airport hotel. Think garden suite rooms, great restaurant and bliss-out pool surrounded by exotic plants. The Casa Colombo is a mix of colonial antiques and funky modern décor and is popular for its personal butler service while the Amanwella Hotel has its own private cove on the beach, meaning you can sip tea from the veranda and look out onto a deserted strip of beach bar fishermen mending their nets.
Transport in Colombo
Bandaranaike International Airport is around 20 miles from the city of Colombo and there are taxis and buses outside the terminal that will take you to the city centre in around three quarters of an hour.
There are taxis and auto-rickshaws waiting for your business on just about every street in Colombo and it’s easiest to jump in one, agree your fare (roughly) and set off. Many of the larger hotels operate their own taxis for guests and you can also quite easily hire a private car and driver to chauffeur you around town. However, if you’re feeling brave there are buses which you can catch from the three main bus stations in southern Pettah.