Review: Hilton Colombo

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We arrived at Colombo Airport from Shanghai at around 7:30PM, and our flight the following morning to Doha was at 10:50AM. So we were faced with a ~15 hour layover, where ideally we would have stayed near the airport.

However, based on my research there aren’t any decent hotels near the airport, so we instead decided to stay at the Hilton Colombo. The city of Colombo is about a 45 minute drive from the airport, so it’s a bit of a haul. For what it’s worth, the rate was ~$140 for our one night stay.

Upon arriving in Colombo we first had to queue for a visa, though fortunately we didn’t have to pay the usual visa fee, given that we were just in transit. I’d note that this took some pushing, as the immigration officer needed approval from the “chief immigration officer” before he could waive our visa fee.

So it was about 8PM before we were out of the airport, and then we took an Uber to the city. There’s a great highway between the city and the airport, so it’s a very pleasant ride.

The Hilton is a bit dated from the outside, as you might expect.

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Hilton Colombo exterior

Upon pulling into the hotel we were greeted by the bellmen and pointed to reception.

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Hilton Colombo exterior

The lobby was under renovation, so there were temporary walls in the entry area.

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Hilton Colombo lobby

Reception was located inside the lobby and to the left, and across from it was a pastry shop with some incredible looking sweets.

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Hilton Colombo lobby

Check-in was efficient and friendly. Personally I find Sri Lankans to be among the friendliest and most hospitable people in the world, so the friendly service came as no surprise. I was informed that I had been upgraded to a club room, and was presented with a letter describing my Diamond benefits, as well as the details of the executive lounge.

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Hilton Colombo Diamond welcome letter

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Hilton Colombo executive lounge information

I took the elevator up to the 17th floor, where my room was located. The elevator seemed to be a bit glitchy, because whenever I entered that I wanted to go to the 17th floor, the elevator in fact took me to the 18th floor, and then I had to push the 17th floor button again.

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Hilton Colombo elevators

Upon exiting the elevator I turned right, and then my room was located on the left.

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Hilton Colombo hallway

I was assigned room 1715, a club king room.

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Hilton Colombo room exterior

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Hilton Colombo floorplan

The room featured an entryway with a closet on the right and the bathroom on the left.

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Hilton Colombo king room entryway

The room itself was dated though well maintained.

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Hilton Colombo king room

It featured a king size bed, which was nice and soft.

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Hilton Colombo king room

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Hilton Colombo king room

Across from it was a luggage rack, as well as a TV on a dresser.

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Hilton Colombo king room TV & desk

In the far corner of the room was a desk with a leather office chair.

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Hilton Colombo king room desk

Across from that was a couch which seated two, along with a coffee table.

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Hilton Colombo king room couch

Waiting on the table was a bowl of fresh fruit, as well as a variety of chocolates.

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Hilton Colombo fruit and chocolate welcome gift

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Hilton Colombo chocolate welcome gift

The bathroom was perhaps the most drab part of the room. The harsh lighting made it feel a bit like a hospital.

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Hilton Colombo king room bathroom

The bathroom featured a toilet with a hose, a sink, and a shower/tub combo.

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Hilton Colombo king room toilet

I’m not sure if it was just my room, but the water pressure was terrible.

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Hilton Colombo king room shower

Toiletries were provided by Peter Thomas Roth, as is the norm at Hilton.

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Hilton Colombo king room toiletries

Back near the entrance was a kettle, bottled water, and instant coffee and tea.

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Hilton Colombo king room coffee & kettle

My room had nice views of the city, with the ocean in the distance. This was my first time actually leaving the airport in Colombo, and after seeing the views I’m excited to return (hopefully soon). I was surprised by the number of high rises under construction (the Grand Hyatt Colombo is among them, if/when it ever opens).

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Hilton Colombo king room view

My major complaint about the room is that the internet was quite slow. It wasn’t unusable, though there was huge variance in the internet speed, which was annoying.

We were quite hungry at this point, given the quality of food on our China Eastern flight. Matthew and I both felt like eating Italian, and as it turns out, the hotel has an Italian restaurant which is well regarded, called Il Ponte. It’s located in the same area as the pool and gym, which I’ll talk more about later. Il Ponte just has outdoor seating.

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Hilton Colombo Italian restaurant

We both had pizzas, which were very good, and hit the spot.

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Hilton Colombo Italian restaurant pizza

We also briefly checked out the club lounge. Unfortunately we arrived at the hotel after the club lounge spread was done for the evening (cocktails are served from 6PM until 8:30PM), though refreshments are still available until 11PM. The lounge was on the small side, though it didn’t seem too busy when we were there.

The lounge had two rooms. One just had several tables, along with two couches.

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Hilton Colombo executive lounge

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Hilton Colombo executive lounge

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Hilton Colombo executive lounge

Then the other room had mostly couches, as well as the food spread.

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Hilton Colombo executive lounge

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Hilton Colombo executive lounge

As a club guest you can have breakfast either in the restaurant or in the club lounge. We decided to check them both out.

The lounge spread was surprisingly good, in my opinion.

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Hilton Colombo executive lounge breakfast buffet

There was fresh fruit, cereal, salad, cold cuts, salmon, veggies, cheese, fresh pastries, bread, croissants, and even a seafood canapé (which seemed a bit odd for breakfast).

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Hilton Colombo executive lounge breakfast buffet

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Hilton Colombo executive lounge breakfast buffet

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Hilton Colombo executive lounge breakfast buffet

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Hilton Colombo executive lounge breakfast buffet

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Hilton Colombo executive lounge breakfast buffet

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Hilton Colombo executive lounge breakfast buffet

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Hilton Colombo executive lounge breakfast buffet

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Hilton Colombo executive lounge breakfast buffet

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Hilton Colombo executive lounge breakfast buffet

We only had coffee in the lounge, and then eventually headed to SPICES Restaurant, where breakfast is also served. This was located off the lobby, just past the lobby sitting area.

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Hilton Colombo lobby bar

The restaurant wasn’t especially busy.

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Hilton Colombo SPICES Restaurant

The food spread was quite good, especially the Indian and Sri Lankan selection.

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Hilton Colombo restaurant breakfast buffet

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Hilton Colombo restaurant breakfast buffet

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Hilton Colombo restaurant breakfast buffet

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Hilton Colombo restaurant breakfast buffet

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Hilton Colombo restaurant breakfast buffet

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Hilton Colombo restaurant breakfast buffet

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Hilton Colombo restaurant breakfast buffet

Then there was a station where they made crepes and waffles, and you could also order custom made omelets.

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Hilton Colombo restaurant breakfast buffet

All three were delicious.

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Hilton Colombo breakfast waffle, crepes, and omelet

The only other comment I have about breakfast is that the coffee was vile.

While we only had a quick overnight, we decided to check out the pool and fitness center in daylight hours. It’s a bit complicated to get there, since it’s across the street from the Hilton. If you exit SPICES Restaurant there’s a path that leads there.

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Hilton Colombo path to pool

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Hilton Colombo path to pool

You have to take an overpass to cross the road.

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Hilton Colombo walkway to pool

The pool itself was decent.

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Hilton Colombo pool

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Hilton Colombo pool

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Hilton Colombo pool

There was also a gym, which seemed rather outdated to me.

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Hilton Colombo gym

The following morning we left the Hilton at 8AM to head back to Colombo Airport, once again using Uber. The drive took about 45 minutes.

Hilton Colombo bottom line

While not the world’s most luxurious hotel, it was perfectly functional, and all the staff we interacted with were friendly and genuine. It’s nice that they let Diamond members have breakfast in the club lounge. The Italian restaurant at the hotel that we had dinner at was excellent as well.

If anyone has other tips for great hotels in Colombo I’d certainly welcome them. I know a Grand Hyatt is supposed to open there eventually, though the opening date seems to continuously be pushed back.

If returning to Colombo I’d stay at the Hilton again, whether I was visiting for an extended period of time, or just overnighting, as I was here.

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Comments

  1. I can highly recommend “The Gateway Airport Garde” if you are looking for a Hotel near the Airport!
    It is a great idea to return to Sri Lanka and spend some time there, as it is a fantastic country with wonderful people and nature. I was there in 2014 for six weeks and got to know a big part of the country. But please don’t just visit Colombo or Negombo, the “beach destination” next to Colombo. The city is not nice at all and one day in Colombo sure will be enough according to my experiences while the rest of the country is really worth visiting!
    Viele Grüße, Tim

  2. The best Hotel in Colombo is the Galle Face Hotel . It’s the ” Raffles “of Sri Lanka and the most historic . It’s completed its major upgrade.

  3. The club lounge is mostly just re-purposed hallway – its a bit odd, though it does have good views and the food is great. I’ve also found that arranging a transfer through the hotel is a good option, especially if you are arriving after midnight when Ubers can dry up.

  4. I was there in February and it was being remodeled and the room was dated, but tidy. That being said, the staff was amazing in directing you around the construction zones and I’m pretty sure that some even addressed me by name. I have no idea how that happened. As a Hilton diamond we were upgraded to a suite with great views. The breakfast buffet food was delicious, especially the fish curry. The lounge evening spread was small but enough to make a light dinner. The lounge servers were terrific with prompt refills. I agree the pool is a trek, but it’s a large pool with several canopy covered lounge beds. My biggest regret is that we used HHonors points, but could only stay 4 days due to our schedule. So we missed out on the 5th night free. That’s like losing a turn in the points game. Anyway, my wife and I really enjoyed our stay and would definitely return.

  5. There are certainly some nice beachfront resorts in Negombo if all one wishes to do is overnight between flights. I generally stay in Negombo on my last night, regardless. It’s much closer to the airport, though if it only took you 45 minutes each way, I’d say you made pretty good time.

  6. Two things:
    “The Hilton is a bit dated from the outside, as you might expect.” – why would you go with that expectation?

    “You have to take an overpass to cross the road.” – so a bridge, right?

  7. I stayed at the Colombo Swimming Club earlier this year which was outstanding
    It’s next door to the new Hyatt
    The location is great and it overlooks the ocean
    I think it cost US $95 a night
    It’s a private club so you need to belong to one of their reciprocal Clubs,check their website
    There is a fixed price for taxis to and from the Airport
    Pay the extra 300 rupees to go on the expressway
    Tell the driver that you want to go on the expressway ,if you say the freeway you won’t go on the expressway ,it’s different

  8. Generally speaking an overpass is to get you ‘over’ an obstacle (road, railroad tracks, etc) while a bridge is typically some that spans a divide (building a bridge from from mainland to an island or across a large canyon).

  9. @omgstfualready Not in the country which invented the language he’s (mis)using 😉 Bridges go over roads here. Come & I’ll show you.

  10. I stayed at the Hilton at the beginning and end of my trip to Sri Lanka and found it quite nice, the staff in particular. The Galle Face Hotel, where I had drinks on a couple of occasions, is much nicer, but I’m sure it is also much pricier. I have a cousin who spent a month in Colombo for work. He and his wife stayed at the Cinnamon Grand and they both gave it high marks.

    I’d highly recommend returning for a longer visit. I absolutely loved the country, food, people and sights. I only had time for Colombo, Kandy and Galle, each worth visiting for multiple days IMO. I hope to go back one day to see the rest of the country, especially the northern areas.

  11. Staying at a generic chain hotel in Colombo, and delighting in its generic chain hotel food, is just too funny. Thanks for the entertainment value of your “travel” experiences!

  12. Great review! One thing to note is that the coffee is vile because most coffee in Sri Lanka (locally grown) is, well, terrible. Stick with tea (which is excellent) when there!

  13. I am going in October with a group of friends for 12 nights. A new hotel is on the beach negombo looks very nice HERITANCE only 4 or 5 stories 30 minutes airport. On return will overnight TAJ HOTEL. which based India n usually quite nice. Club floor top looking out to ocean. There are s couple very nice boutique hotels looked amazing Enjoyed your report. Do enjoy your site n have learned much. Cheers kerry Andrew Byrd

  14. @ Lucky: I apologize if this has been covered in a previous post(s). When you are traveling with a friend how do you deal with the King size beds in all/most of the upgraded/premium rooms? I have been booking double beds when traveling with others that aren’t my spouse and end up turning down suite upgrades 🙁 …do you prefer a rollaway with a bigger room or a smaller room with proper beds?

  15. I second staying at the Galle Face Hotel next time you’re in Colombo. Not part of a loyalty program, but much more on par with the caliber of hotel you usually review. I stayed there a few years ago and both the room and service were top notch! Also a lot of local (albeit slightly imperial) character.

  16. If you are just overnighting, there are several Negombo beach hotels located 25 minutes from CMB. Right on the sand and surf, certainly more charming, interesting, and more conveniently located than the sterile Hilton Colombo. You were fortunate if the drive from CMB only took 45 minutes, during rush hour I hit 90 minutes from airport to the city.

  17. Hi,

    I have stayed at this property 2 years ago, over the New Year’s. The photos really brings back the great memories of this property – it’s old, but the staff are great and friendly, especially there is a particular older gentlemen in the lounge that was really friendly and very proud to work in the hotel and talk about the Sri Lankan culture. I had too had a room with a view towards the Galle Face, great for firework watching.
    As for the transfer service, I will only use it if really necessary as it is in my opinion run by a bunch of crooks. It is handled by an external tour company, Aban Tours, which happens to also be the franchisee for Europcar and they tried to cheating me of what was stated in the booking reservation for the chauffered car when booking online – really spoiled the whole atmosphere to fight with them on New Year’s eve for the transportation back to the airport the next day on New’s Year day.

    Looking forward to returning to this property again soon.

    Ben: How much did Uber cost you for the ride from the airport to the hotel.

  18. There are a number of 4/5 star beach hotels only 20 mins from the Airport in a place called Negombo, they are very good. The area has bars and restaurants also.
    In Colombo I would recommend the Cinnamon Grand as the Hilton is very tired now and urgently needs a make over.

  19. I am curious – you mention taking Uber to/from the hotel. Did you use your US account, tied to your normal US phone? I ask because I have seen several places that mention updating your phone number to a local one if you are abroad for any length of time so that drivers can call you if required.

  20. I believe that a Shangri-La is opening in Colombo next year. However, the opening date will likely be pushed back.

  21. I was in Colombo a few months ago and doing research prior to the trip, it didn’t look like any of the hotels in the central area were particularly nice. While others have mentioned Galle Face, I don’t really like that traditional style of hotel, so I passed on that. In the end, I went with the Cinnamon Lakeside, which was very okay. The rooms are in need of refreshing and the “bones” of the hotel do seem quite old (elevators, bathrooms, etc.). Passable for the two nights I was there but certainly not luxurious by any means.

  22. It looks tidy, but the decor is outdated. The lounge decor itself must be 15-years-old.

  23. I agree with you, Hilton is a bit outdated and they need A renovation. There are other good hotels in colombo namely Cinnamon Grand, Kingsbury and the Galle Face Hotel (oldest hotel in Sri Lanka). There are few other boutique hotels around Colombo but I’d recommend tintagel.

  24. I stayed at this hotel as a Diamond member. I was assigned a room on the 17th floor as well. I ended up with bug bites and believe me I know what Bed Bugs are. I have traveled extensively around the globe and I encountered one in Italy as well. I had bug bites all over my body, it was so bad, that I could not even open up my eyes, my body was bitten all over. I requested for a doctor or to be taken to a doctor. I was told that I had to pay a hefty fee out of my own pocket. I requested for an on call duty manager to come over and check out my bug bites.
    I was suppose to go to Kandy, Sirigiya, Ella on the train ride, then to Galle and Welligama Bay. I had to end my trip short and pay a hefty last minute business class to Hong Kong on CX, paying over $1200 for that one segment and rearrange my First Class flight, which was a nightmare. I even wrote to the the previous GM as well as to Manesh Fernando who signed your letter. Not a single Hilton Honors was deposited to my account. Not a single penny, not a weekened offer, Nothing, Nada… The customer service sucked at this hotel. They could have cared less. They kept saying that i got the bug bites outside. The funny thing was that between leaving my beautiful over the water bungalow at Conrad Rangali resort in Maldives and getting on Emirates on my way to the Hilton in Colombo I had not gone anywhere else. I was at the Hilton the entire time where I was bitten like crazy by the bed bugs. I still like to get compensation for my problem. If a management team member from Hilton Colombo reads this, you can get back to me. Thank you, AlanLouganis@yahoo.com

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