Wednesday newsletters always feature a hotel or flight review.
Last March, I enjoyed a sublime holiday in the Maldives and Sri Lanka. You can read my trip reports here:
- Review: Lufthansa A330 Business Class Frankfurt to Male
- Review: Soneva Fushi, the Maldives’ original desert island hideaway
- Review: Soneva Jani, the Maldives’ most amazing resort
- Review: Shangri-La Colombo Hotel (Sri Lanka)
- Review: Wild Coast Tented Lodge (Yala National Park, Sri Lanka)
- Review: Aman tour in Sri Lanka: Amangalla
- Review: Aman tour in Sri Lanka: Amanwella
- Review: Austrian Airlines B777 Business Class Colombo to Vienna
Today (May 30, 2018): Review of Shangri-La Hotel Colombo (Sri Lanka).
- Location: Google maps
- Hotel website: Shangri-La Colombo
- Tip: get free VIP amenities when booking via the Shangri-La Luxury Circle program
The Shangri-La Colombo benefits from a prime location by the sea that is in the heart of Colombo’s business district and buzzing social hotspot. A personal tropical sanctuary that is perfect for escaping the city, it offers some of the finest, most modern accommodations in the country, with 500 luxurious guest rooms and suites, and 41 serviced apartments. An exciting new dining and social scene has come to life around the hotel’s outstanding group of restaurants and bars, and the exclusive Horizon Club Lounge is the largest of its kind in Colombo. Shangri-La’s award-winning CHI, The Spa presents 7 private rooms at the property with a soothing selection of traditional Sri Lankan and Asian treatments and therapies. The spa is complemented by a state-of-the-art, 24-hour health club and one of the largest outdoor swimming pools in Colombo.
Shangri-La Colombo features in my top 10 list of the best luxury hotels & resorts in Sri Lanka.
In this review (more info below my Youtube clip & slideshow):
- Pros & things I like
- Cons & things to know
- My verdict
- Tips for future guests & save money
- Best time to visit
- How to get there
*** Get the most out of your (luxury) trip to Sri Lanka with my online Sri Lanka travel guide ***
PROS & THINGS I LIKE
- The hotel has the best address in the Sri Lankan capital – One Galle Face – only minutes from the Central Business District, including the World Trade Centre, National Exhibition Centre, Government Offices and Diplomatic Missions. The hotel is just across the street from the iconic Galle Face Green – Sri Lanka’s largest urban park – and within walking distance to tourist hotspots including the historical Colombo Fort and the Dutch Hospital Shopping & Nightlife precinct.
- Bringing a new level of luxury to this thriving metropolitan city, Shangri-La Colombo opened its doors last year (November 2017) in a brand new gleaming 32-floor oceanfront high-rise. The skyscraper is the first project to be completed on 10 acres of an ocean-front lifestyle development which will also accommodate an office tower, two residential buildings and Colombo’s first high-end shopping mall. Because of its location within a skyscraper, most rooms boast unparalleled views of the Indian Ocean, Beira Lake and the Colombo city skyline.
- The hotel’s public areas are all conveniently located within the first four floors of the building, linked by 6 elevators. The lobby, which is actually on the second floor, is a majestic, airy and opulent space with massive floor-to ceiling windows offering panoramic views. Although the lobby’s design is classic and contemporary, it fuses subtile elements of Sri Lanka such the breathtaking lotus-shaped crystal chandelier which spreads like an opening flower across the vast, cinnamon wood inlaid, high ceiling. Several works of art adorn the public spaces, with my favorite being a life-size metal sculpture of an infant elephant commissioned by celebrated Chinese artist Man Fung-Yi that graces the hotel’s lobby.
- The hotel currently offers the most luxurious accommodations in the city. Spreading across 32 floors, the hotel boasts 541 rooms, including 34 suites and 41 serviced apartments, all of which have soaring views. During my visit, I stayed in a premier ocean view on the 26th floor. The room was decorated in typically chic Shangri-La style, including contemporary furnishings and state of the art amenities, thoughtfully placed to take advantage of the Indian Ocean vistas. With a colour scheme of soft teals and browns and a mix of refined materials such as marble and silk with contemporary lights woods, the rooms evoked a sense of calm and warmth. The decently sized bathroom featured one sink, a wc, and a stone-clad rain shower and bathtub. Toiletries were from Spa Ceylon.
- There are 61 Horizon Club Rooms all of which are located on the top three floors of the hotel with the very best views in the city. Horizon Club Rooms have the same features and benefits of lower category rooms with the addition of upgraded guest room amenities and, most significantly, access to the beautiful Horizon Club Lounge on the hotel’s top 32nd floor. Lounge benefits include – among others – private check in/out in the room or the Horizon Club Lounge, complimentary daily breakfast, afternoon refreshments, evening cocktails and canapés, beverages, suit pressing and shoe shine service. The lounge even has a small outdoor terrace offering stunning views of the Old Parliament Building, the harbor and the skyline.
- Although more a business hotel than a resort, the property offers an impressive array of leisure facilities for guests to explore. Its most spectacular feature is the beautiful sun terrace which features a 25 m (82 ft) long swimming pool overlooking the Indian Ocean and Galle Face Green – perfectly positioned to enjoy the refreshing sea breeze or to watch the sunset. Framed by exotic plants and trees, the hotel’s pool is a tropical hideaway yet only a few moments from the centre of the city. There are several rows of sun loungers, three cabanas, as well as a snack bar offering cocktails and light bites.
- For guests wanting to keep up their fitness regime whilst away from home, the hotel’s state of the art fitness center on the 4th floor is open 24 hours a day. With a fully equipped gym as well as a movement studio, vitality pools and steam rooms, the health club has facilities to suit every fitness preference and is the perfect place to relax, rejuvenate and revitalise both the mind and body.
- Located on the 4th floor besides the gym, the award-winning CHI, The Spa at Shangri-La Hotel, Colombo is a secluded sanctuary at the forefront of the hotel’s wellness and lifestyle experiences. The spa is decorated in distinctive Shangri-La style and features design elements inspired by the local culture to ensure a truly indulgent yet authentic experience. The 7 private treatment rooms are spacious, soothing and sheltered and are designed for both couples and individuals. The spa offers massages, exercise, stretching, hydrotherapy, meditation practices, and a selection of traditional Sri Lankan and Asian treatments. I had a massage which was great!
- With inspirational cuisine prepared by a team of international chefs from Europe, India, China and Sri Lanka, the hotel has become the dining and social hotspot of the city since its opening and features four excellent restaurants, offering something for every palate:
- Named after a Chinese dynasty, Shang Palace is the hotel’s signature restaurant serving a range of traditional regional Chinese cuisine from Sichuan, Dongbei and Canton.
- Located on the lobby level, the Capital Bar & Grill serves the city’s finest steaks and seafood grills, as well as the city’s most extensive selection of whisky. As shown in my Youtube clip, this restaurant offers four unique ambiances – a buzzing and energetic bar; a ‘white room’ for more intimate private dining; a vibrant ‘blue room’ with a show kitchen; and alfresco dining on the terrace, as the ocean breeze carries over.
- Table One is the hotel’s all day dining restaurant and features interactive cooking stations serving international cuisine. This restaurant also serves a sumptuous buffet for breakfast.
- Finally, there’s also Kaema Sutra, a new-age Sri Lankan restaurant on the 4th floor, offering creative native inspired tapas created by famed Chef Darshan Munidasa (his Ministry of Crab is on the Asia’s 50 best restaurants list). This dining venue – where I enjoyed a terrific dinner – features a wall of vibrant masks depicting folktales and a bar with beautifully carved elephants.
- Accessed directly from the hotel’s magnificent lobby, the Sapphyr Lounge is bathed in natural Sri Lankan sunlight through floor to ceiling windows. It is the ideal place for a casual business meeting or for some quality time with friends and family while enjoying local Ceylon tea skilfully prepared by the hotel’s Tea Sommelier. It also offers the city’s most opulent afternoon tea service, accompanied by guests chocolates in the shape of jewelry infused with the flavours of tea and spices, a first in Colombo. Around the Sapphyr Lounge’s corner is a lovely pastry shop.
- Considering the hotel has been open for only a few months, the standard of service is very high, although you would not expect anything less from Shangri-La, one of the world’s most famous and luxurious hotel brands. This hotel is no exception to Sri Lankans’ innate inclination to provide genuine, enthusiastic and welcoming service. Managers are always on hand to help resolve any issues in the unlikely case you should encounter one.
- The rates at the Shangri-La Colombo are often in the high $100s USD or in the low $200s USD, which is expensive for Sri Lanka, but not unreasonable and quite affordable by international standards, especially considering the luxury you get.
- The hotel provides complimentary tuk-tuk service from 8 am to 6p to select locations in town, which you can arrange at front desk.
CONS & THINGS TO KNOW
Shangri-La Colombo is the first international luxury hotel to arrive in Sri Lanka’s capital in nearly 30 years and is by far Colombo’s best luxury hotel, although there’s not a lot of competition in the city right now. The facilities, accommodations, restaurants, design, and service are top-notch. There’s little to say against the hotel, although you need the know the following when considering a stay here:
- There’s a lot of construction going on around the hotel, although that won’t really affect your stay (except for some occasional noise disturbance when lounging on the pool deck). The hotel is part of a larger lifestyle development project, with two residential towers, and office tower and a shopping mall currently being built in the immediate vicinity of the property. Construction to the towers will finish over the coming months, and the luxury shopping mall at One Galle Face is due to open in 2019 (with direct access to the shopping mall from the hotel).
- The hotel gazes out at the continuing land reclamation project for the capital’s future Port City. This new mini city – destined to become one of asia’s new hotspots – is currently being built entirely on 269 hectares of land reclaimed from the sea, stretching out from the coastline in front of the hotel. It’s the largest infrastructure undertaking in Sri Lanka’s history but also one of the country’s most controversial projects (since China is the main sponsor). From a hotel guest’s perspective, you won’t really notice any of this, except that ocean view rooms look out over the man-made island which will be a continuing area of construction for years to come.
- Location: 8/10
- Design: 8/10
- Pool: 8/10
- Rooms: 8/10
- Food: 9/10
- Breakfast: 9/10
- Spa: 8/10
- Service: 9/10
- Value for money: 10/10
- Overall experience: very good: 8,5/10
TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
- Save money: read my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel like Shangri-La Colombo (and/or receive many free perks).
- Save money: make use of Shangri-La’s best rate guarantee. If you find a better rate, the Shangri-La Hotel Group will honour that lower rate, plus give you a further 10% discount off the lower rate.
- Save money: get free VIP amenities when you book your hotel via the Shangri-La Luxury Circle program. This program is for top producing travel agents, such as Classic Travel. So you need to book via an agency in the program to get the following benefits at the Shangri-La Colombo:
- Upgrade to the next room type category at the time of booking, subject to availability
- Hotel credit of $100 USD (or 10% of average daily room rate, whichever is higher), per stay
- Complimentary full breakfast for two, including in-room dining
- Early check-in and late check-out, subject to availability
- Welcome amenity
- Save money: Golden Circle is Shangri-La’s frequent guest program. Every time a guest stays, enjoys a spa treatment or dines at any Shangri-La Hotel & Resort, they will enjoy exclusive privileges and benefits across many different aspects of the group’s hotel and resort offerings. Golden Circle Award Points can then be redeemed towards hotel stays, dining or spa experiences at any Shangri-La hotel, resort, Kerry hotel, Traders hotel and Hotel Jen. Points may also converted into airline miles. You will earn Golden Circle points when booking via the Shangri-La Luxury Circle program (mentioned above) so’re leaving money on the table when you don’t.
- Room tip: The Deluxe and Premier rooms are identically sized, yet priced differently for their views (Beira Lake/city views cost less than rooms with Indian Ocean views).
- Room tip: Business travellers should opt for the Horizon Club Rooms, which offer various privileges.
- Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
Its equatorial position means that temperatures in Sri Lanka are fairly constant year round, with coastal regions enjoying average temperatures of 25-30°C (77 -86°F) and the highlands around 15-18°C (59-65°F). The tropical climate in Sri Lanka is complex as it is dictated by two monsoon seasons:
- The south-western monsoon brings rain to the Sri Lanka southern and western regions between May and September, while the dry season in this region runs from December to March. These regions are Sri Lanka’s most popular tourist areas (e.g. Colombo, resort towns, and Yala National Park).
- The north-eastern monsoon brings wind and rain to Sri Lanka’s north and eastern coastal regions between mid-November and January, and drier weather between May and September.
- There’s also an inter-monsoonal season in October and the first half of November, which sees fine weather for most of the island interspersed with sudden thunderstorms.
All in all, the drier transition months of April and September are the best to see the whole country. As with many South-East Asian destinations, the period from December to mid-April is considered the peak season for overall weather and therefore overall visitor numbers.
HOW TO GET THERE
The hotel is approximately a 45 minutes’ drive from Colombo’s Bandaranaike International Airport. You can either take a taxi or book a pick-up by the hotel’s limousine. Colombo International Airport (CMB) is served by a number of international and charter airlines, including Air China, Air India, Air Asia, Cathay Pacific, China Eastern Airlines, Emirates Air, Etihad Air, Kuwait Airways, Oman Air, Malaysian Airlines, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, Saudia, Sri Lankan Airlines and Turkish Airlines. Check the wikipedia page of Colombo International Airport for an updated list of airlines that provide direct flights to the city.
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I’m willing to book for Shangri-La & was wondering if I’ll be able to get the following benefits through you;
Upgrade to the next room type category at the time of booking, subject to availability
Hotel credit of $100 USD (or 10% of average daily room rate, whichever is higher), per stay
Complimentary full breakfast for two, including in-room dining
Early check-in and late check-out, subject to availability