South Asia’s Grand Dame which withstood the test of time for over a century now opens its doors after a two-year grand restoration
Some of the most elegant and historic cultural icons of our times – vintage hotels – have withstood the ravages of time to emerge as icons, imbued with a regal charm that is unparalleled. These are some of the heritage hotels around the world, which enjoy an exalted status as the ultimate vintage luxury destinations of all time. These architectural gems were discovered around the time the Suez Canal was opened for transatlantic steamers in 1869, thereby shortening the journey from the West to the East and promoting the early version of tourism as we know it today.
The Galle Face Hotel is privileged to be counted amongst one of these elite properties. The hotel stands proud as one of the oldest hotels east of the Suez in this exclusive group.
Founded in 1864, the Galle Face Hotel is one of the landmarks in Asia with a rich colonial history and is arguably one of the best heritage hotels in the world. The Galle Face Hotel was originally built by four British entrepreneurs and is among the few remaining colonial hotels in operation today in Asia. In 2012 it became the first hotel in the country to be featured on a postage stamp.
No visit to Sri Lanka is complete without staying at the elegant historic award winning hotel, which reflects the grandeur of a bygone era yet offering modern comfort for today’s traveller. Despite many renovations over the years, the period detail of the Galle Face Hotel has been preserved in its architecture and façade.
Over the years, the hotel has housed royalty and celebrity and has played host to many well-known figures, world leaders and celebrities who have resided here, including royalty and heads of state, such as Emperor Hirohito of Japan, US President Richard Nixon, Alfonso XIII King of Spain, Pope John Paul II, Prince Phillip Duke of Edinburgh and Indian Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and many more eminent personalities.
Galle Face Hotel has also played host to famous sporting personalities of yore such as Sir Donald Bradman, Sir Garfield Sobers, Sir Len Hutton and Mike Brearley. Many reputed performers, artists and thespians have graced its portals, such as Somerset Maugham, Duke Ellington, Sir Carol Reed, Robert Rauschenberg, Steven Spielberg, Actors – Gregory Peck, Bo Derek, Harrison Ford, Roger Moore, Sir Alec Guinness, Vivien Leigh, Peter Finch, William Holden and Carrie Fisher.
The iconic Galle Face Hotel which opens its doors again following its grand restoration over the last two years to its former glory now positioning the hotel as ‘The Bespoke’ property in Colombo, is now geared to open its doors to a global market of refined and leisure travellers, business professionals as well as celebrities, expatriates and locals alike seeking to enjoy the luxuries of life while reminiscing on an era of Ceylon gone by. The grand debut of the restored Galle Face Hotel will be one of the signature hotel openings that Sri Lanka’s hospitality industry has ever witnessed which will see popular international acts perform along with the participation of local VIPs and international celebrities.
Speaking on the vision of the Galle Face Hotel the General Manager of the hotel, Antony Paton states, “It upholds the importance of ensuring that the prestigious identity of the hotel is retained so as to celebrate its rich history. Together with my team we intend to follow the mantra of ‘Personable Service’ to each individual guest that walks into Galle Face Hotel to enjoy its timeless grandeur. To ensure this every team member of the hotel will be trained with international standards of luxury hospitality.
Paton further adds, “Each trip is approached as an opportunity to experience atypical destination, to discover somewhere new with singular charm, distinct traditions and stories.”