The Galle Face Hotel – Colombo, Sri Lanka

For a Spot of Ceylon Tea at the Source

Connoisseurs of Raj-era hotels seek out the Galle Face, one of the few remaining colonial hotels not yet homogenized by heavy-handed renova­tions that leave them theme-park shadows of their former selves. Yes, the Galle Face shows its age, but also its historical character and pride as Colombo’s superior establishment during the British era.

The glitzy five-star establishments in town can’t pretend to duplicate its delightful 19th-century atmos­phere, where barefoot waiters serve tea on a wide-open veranda swept by sea breezes – the prized watering hole during British rule, when Ceylon was synonymous with tea.

The vintage suites here are large enough to host a cricket match, with polished creaking teak floors, ceiling fans, and ocean views. A ubiquitous butler delivers breakfast with a smile and a certain cobwebbed quality of graciousness that the British must have been loath to leave behind.

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