Review: Shangri-La Colombo

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I had a quick one night stopover in Colombo. I arrived at around 5PM, and was leaving the next morning at around 9AM. The city of Colombo is quite a ways from the airport, though there aren’t any good airport hotels, as far as I know. Fortunately there’s an expressway connecting the city to the airport, so while it’s quite a distance, the drive only takes 30-45 minutes, assuming you’re not traveling during rush hour.

In the past I’ve reviewed the Hilton Colombo, which is serviceable though nothing special. I was quite excited this time around when I noticed that a gorgeous-looking Shangri-La just recently opened in Colombo. I didn’t realize this was under construction. The only hotel I was anticipating was the Grand Hyatt, which has been under construction for years, though it seems like that won’t be opening, unfortunately.

The rate at the Shangri-La Colombo was about $180 for my one night stay, which is expensive for Colombo, but not unreasonable by international standards. I managed to get a bit more value out of that rate, as Ford was able to book me through Shangri-La’s Luxury Circle program, which comes with extra benefits like a room upgrade, a $50 food & beverage credit, complimentary breakfast, and more.

The drive from the airport took 45 minutes and cost $20 (it’s the same whether you’re using an Uber or a taxi). The hotel has a great location on the ocean, just a few minutes drive past the Hilton. As you’d expect for a newly built hotel, the exterior was beautiful and modern.


Shangri-La Colombo exterior

As I pulled up to the hotel I was greeted by one of the friendly bellmen and escorted to check-in. The hotel has an elegant and spacious lobby.


Shangri-La Colombo lobby


Shangri-La Colombo lobby


Shangri-La Colombo lobby


Shangri-La Colombo lobby

Reception was located inside the lobby and to the right, and there were three separate podiums to spread out the area a bit.


Shangri-La Colombo reception

The check-in process was efficient, and it was clear the employees all took pride in the new hotel, as the employee checking me in mentioned that the hotel was brand new, and proudly proclaimed it as Colombo’s best hotel.

Within a couple of minutes I was checked in. There’s also a lobby lounge just near reception, as well as a coffeeshop.


Shangri-La Colombo lobby lounge

I stopped at the coffeeshop to order an americano, since I needed some caffeine after such a long travel day.


Shangri-La Colombo coffeeshop

The elevators were located just behind reception, and there were six elevators to the guest rooms.


Shangri-La Colombo elevators

My room was on the 24th floor. I was surprised by how full the hotel was (there seemed to be several weddings going on, so I felt way underdressed walking around the hotel), and as a result the elevator always made several stops. Once outside the elevator I turned left, and then my room (#2408) was just down the hallway on the right.


Shangri-La Colombo hallway


Shangri-La Colombo room exterior


Shangri-La Colombo floorplan

I’m not sure if I actually received any sort of a room upgrade. I suspect I didn’t, as the room most closely fit the description of a Deluxe Lake View Room. I should have probably asked about an upgrade at check-in (on account of my Luxury Circle booking), but it slipped my mind.

The room was still lovely. It featured an entryway with the bathroom to the left and then a luggage rack and the minibar to the right.


Shangri-La Colombo room entryway

The room had a plush king size bed.


Shangri-La Colombo king room


Shangri-La Colombo king room

Across from it was the wall mounted TV, as well as a desk with a chair immediately underneath it.


Shangri-La Colombo king room


Shangri-La Colombo king room

By the window were two seats as well as a table.


Shangri-La Colombo king room seating area

On the table was a package of dried bananas, which I assume was intended as a welcome gift.


Shangri-La Colombo welcome gift

My room had a nice view of Colombo. I thought it was a great view, especially considering this is the non-premium view at the hotel (you can pay more for a room facing the ocean).


Shangri-La Colombo room view

Back near the entrance was a luggage rack, as well as a small area with the minibar, complimentary bottled water, a kettle, and the in-room dining menu (which was made to look like a newspaper).


Shangri-La Colombo in-room kettle & room service menu


Shangri-La Colombo room minibar

The bathroom was well appointed, and featured a sink, a bathtub, a toilet in a separate room, and a walk-in shower with both a rainforest and handheld showerhead.


Shangri-La Colombo king room bathroom


Shangri-La Colombo king room bathtub


Shangri-La Colombo king room toilet


Shangri-La Colombo king room shower

Toiletries were from Spa Ceylon, and were pretty good quality.


Shangri-La Colombo toiletries

All around I thought the room was well appointed. It was thoughtfully designed, everything felt new, and I thought it had some charm. In-room wifi was complimentary and high speed, and there wasn’t any sort of log-in required.

I ended up falling asleep pretty early, and go figure I woke up at about 2AM hungry. So I decided to order from the room service menu, and had a fattoush salad, the Sri Lankan dessert, and a pot of coffee. The cost? Just $11, including the delivery fee (and my $50 credit covered all of that).


Shangri-La Colombo room service

In terms of the hotel’s other facilities, the gym, pool, and spa are all on the fourth floor. The gym was a decent size, and was open 24/7.


Shangri-La Colombo gym


Shangri-La Colombo gym

The pool was lovely, in terms of the pool itself, the furniture on the deck, and the view.


Shangri-La Colombo pool


Shangri-La Colombo pool


Shangri-La Colombo pool deck

Obviously I didn’t really have a chance to enjoy most of the amenities due to my short stay. In the morning I did go to the restaurant for breakfast. Breakfast is served from 6:30AM until 10:30AM, and I planned to leave the hotel at 7AM, so I just took my luggage to the restaurant and left immediately after.

The breakfast restaurant was located on the third floor, and had several different seating options.


Shangri-La Colombo breakfast restaurant


Shangri-La Colombo breakfast restaurant


Shangri-La Colombo breakfast restaurant

I’ll let the pictures of the food speak for themselves, but the selection and quality were exceptional, I thought.


Shangri-La Colombo breakfast buffet


Shangri-La Colombo breakfast buffet


Shangri-La Colombo breakfast buffet


Shangri-La Colombo breakfast buffet


Shangri-La Colombo breakfast buffet


Shangri-La Colombo breakfast buffet


Shangri-La Colombo breakfast buffet


Shangri-La Colombo breakfast buffet


Shangri-La Colombo breakfast buffet


Shangri-La Colombo breakfast buffet


Shangri-La Colombo breakfast buffet


Shangri-La Colombo breakfast buffet


Shangri-La Colombo breakfast buffet


Shangri-La Colombo breakfast buffet


Shangri-La Colombo breakfast buffet


Shangri-La Colombo breakfast buffet

After a great breakfast I headed straight for the airport in an Uber, which only took about 35 minutes.

Shangri-La Colombo bottom line

The Shangri-La is a spectacular new option in Colombo, and will be my go to hotel from now on. I just wish I had more time to enjoy the hotel. The rooms were beautiful, the public facilities gorgeous, and the food I had was excellent. While the rates aren’t cheap, you can get more value by booking through Luxury Circle. I can’t recommend this hotel enough.

Does anyone have another favorite hotel in Colombo that I should check out?

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Comments

  1. @Lucky- the Gateway hotel is quite nice. Not Shangri-La nice, but I found it to be very pleasant and upscale.

  2. That place looks beautiful!
    I hope that sometime in your travels you are able to spend more time in Sri Lanka. I spent about 2 weeks there last year and found the whole place to be lovely. Friendly people, amazing sights, and a great value. Especially since you and Ford are finding you like to spend time in relaxing natural areas, I think you would enjoy the beauty of this country.

  3. I would also vote for the Gateway as a decent place to stay near CMB. It’s not a luxury hotel but it’s perfectly serviceable (and nicer than everything else that’s close to CMB, as far as I can tell).

  4. I stayed at the Grand Oriental. Not modern in the least, but I’m a fan of the old fashioned faded beauty type hotels 🙂

  5. Nice review but for those that want the non “corporate” hotel, I would recommend “Tintagel” Its located in a very nice upscale/wealthy area in colombo and the staff is very accommodating. Prince Charles stayed there not too long ago.

    My wife and I stayed there for one night after our 2 week vacation in sri lanka and we have nothing but good things to say about Tintagel.

  6. What is the nicest hotel in Colombo? I have an upcoming stay there for 5 daya, and my company is paying for the Kingsbury but I can choose any hotel I want.

    What the nicest hotel in Colombo?

  7. There will be a Sheraton opening soon. iTC an Indian chain building new hotel next door to Shangrila. Hyatt will open later this year early next. A Double Tree in Negombo close to airport will also be opening in the next 18 months or so.

  8. There aren’t many points opportunities in Colombo and the large “5-star” hotels are uninspired. Galle Face Hotel has a great location and has recently renovated rooms on the north end (aspiring to be Raffles-esque) but service is iffy and not at an international standard. The snazziest place is a large home converted into a hotel, called Tintagel but it is located in a pit of a location (though ostensibly in the ritziest district within Colombo) and again exorbitant for what it is. So, save your money to enjoy Bangkok or Bali or Kuala Lumpur and stay at the mundane Colombo Hilton and earn some points while you’re at it….

  9. For a brief stay near the airport, my preferred option is the Jetwing Lagoon! Great rooms, great food, friendly service and a very relaxing atmosphere. Unless you have plans in Colombo itself, there’s no need to battle through traffic.

  10. @Lucky: what about the transit hotel inside the aiport? I’ve used it twice and I found it ok just to sleep and take a shower….Going into the city adds the cost of the visa plus transportation.

  11. Have a look at Maniumpathy: really lovely place.
    And if you have a longer trip in the country, Amanwella is gorgeous, 3 hours south of Colombo city.

  12. It’s nice to read your review about this new Shangri-La hotel. I stayed at Shangri-La Taipei, Taiwan and Shangri-La, Island, Hong Kong before and I really like Shangri-La brand hotels.

  13. I had heard in December last that the Shangri-La Colombo was having teething troubles, so I am glad to see Lucky’s very positive review. It looks like a place worth staying at in Colombo. My wife and I stayed a couple of nights at the Galle Face Hotel in one of the balcony suites in the north wing. Lovely, very clean room with a huge balcony overlooking the ocean and the hallways smelled of ironwood floors cleaned with Mansion Polish, oh so redolent of colonial times! There is a 100m length of corridor and an equally long bar exclusively for occupants of the suites. Free drinks and free food from 1730 to 1900 h. Amazing! We had dinner one night at a restaurant called the Sea Spray; exceptional seafood with obliging and friendly staff. Try their signature dessert, a creme caramel made of buffalo curd with burnt sugar on top and accompanied by palm honey and a passion fruit compote. To die for! There is a large restaurant that offers a buffet selection for all three meals; we had breakfast and lunch there and were impressed. Service throughout was very good although some of the staff at the entrance could chat less and be more attentive to guests. We took a tour of Colombo arranged by the hotel but it was a bit farcical because the driver was quite clueless. Interesting hotel museum that carries Prince Philip’s first car. Nice saltwater pool and there is a small beach exclusively for guests (ask hotel about safety there). All in all a great experience in what I think is the oldest grand hotel in colonial Asia; it will easily rival the Raffles in Singapore if it invests a few million dollars more. Lucky, you should try the Galle Face Hotel sometime. Meanwhile, I may stay at the Shangri-La on my next visit.

  14. regarding kingsbur vs cinnamon grand vs shangri la, I would say shangri la being the newest is the one to try. Cinnamon grand (and cinnamon lakeside which is a little quieter) are MUCH MUCH MUCH better than Kingsbury. Kingsbury is a “to be avoided” in my mind.

  15. Next time try the Marriott.
    You will be upgraded to a suite with concierge level.
    You don’t need Virtuoso.
    And it’s on the beach.

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