Travel // Sri Lanka Part One, Shangri La Hotel Colombo & Galle

March 26, 2018

Oh Sri Lanka. A magical, varied, chaotic island in the Indian Ocean. An island covered in palm trees, home to temples, national parks, elephants & leopards, tuk tuks and tea plantations. It’s a country which I admit, had never been that high on my radar although Ben has always wanted to go. So when the opportunity came up for us to visit it seemed silly to let it pass. Ben couldn’t wait and knew it would be brilliant {partly as he’s watched so much cricket from Colombo over the years!} whereas I didn’t really know what to expect, making it all the better once I got there and discovered just how incredible it is. It's been a while since we travelled around Asia and this time it was such a treat to do it in a more luxury, holiday style. We split our stay into two parts; the first couple of nights at in Colombo, staying at Shangri La Hotel Colombo a brand new property in the capital.

We flew with Emirates via Dubai and arrived to rush-hour as the sun was setting. There was so much to see just in the drive into the city from the airport. Trucks filled with coconuts {we later learned that Sri Lanka is famous for a special type of King coconut which were everywhere. The whole island is covered in coconut palms}. On either side of the highway was a sea of green lush palm trees as we were chauffeur driven into the city. The hazy high rises ahead of us. Colombo is still very much under construction but well worth a stop as your introduction to Sri Lanka. The hotel is a 45 minute drive from the airport and a perfect base for a few days luxury whilst exploring the bustling city.

Shangri la Colombo is a destination in itself with a rooftop pool, smart trendy restaurants & a relaxing spa. Although the city below won’t get you feeling the real Sri Lanka. For that you want to visit Shangri la Hambantota but that’s a 5 hour drive away. Which makes stopping in Colombo a very worthwhile mini break in between your flight and onward journey to the rest of the country. We arrived in the evening, had one full day in Colombo then left early the next morning & it was perfect. Just the right amount of time. This would also be a fab resort to combine with The Maldives {remember this dream place?} as you can fly direct into Colombo then connect easily to the Maldives after a stay in Sri Lanka first. It’s a very popular combo and for good reason, you’re getting culture and wildlife for some adventurous travel & then a paradise beach island to flip and flop.

The hotel itself is slick. We’ve stayed in a few Shangri la properties now and have come to understand that Shangri la guarantees luxury but still with enough personality. Each property is completely different too which I like. This, being in a city, is a high rise with 32 floors. Our room was on the 24th, perfect for watching the sunset {if you ignore the construction in front of the hotel} full of modern luxuries, and a bed you sink into.

Food plays a huge part in Sri Lanka’s culture and at Shangri la Colombo this is reflected. There are three amazing restaurants to choose from. Our favourite was the international buffet {one of the best we've ever seen} which served definitely the most amazing breakfast we’ve ever experienced with literally anything you could think of plus all the fresh coconuts you could ever wish for. There’s also Kaema Sutra with a wall filled with traditional Sri Lankan masks, with a buzzy bar & atmosphere, the city lights visible outside. It serves traditional Sri Lankan food with a modern take, you have to try the world famous hoppers {like a crispy pancake bowl}. There’s a luxury lounge area with a piano where you can try a traditional high tea {tea tasting is big out here}. Or a beautiful, upmarket parlour room - Capital Grill with fun press for champagne buttons and beautifully tiled floors {I have this thing with tiles!}.

The city below may be chaotic but the rooftop areas of the hotel are a serene oasis. There’s a lush jungle lawn area and an impressive pool surrounded by padded loungers to soak up some sun. And order cocktails from the poolside bar.

When the heat got too much we retreated to the spa for the most heavenly couples massage we’d had for an age, and we practically floated out. Although be aware that Sri Lanka and Ayurvedic practice tends to mean men get a male therapist {something my husband’s not a fan of!} so you can ask to switch.

That juice bar!!

I always love hotels for inspiring interiors.

We couldn’t leave without experiencing Colombo so we joined a local walking tour that the hotel recommended with Mark Forbes, a local. We were shown around the old Colombo, with its colonial buildings and tuk tuks a plenty. On the way back to the hotel we stumbled across a humbling fruit and veg market as it was closing, we were the only ones there. I love travel experiences like that, where you just stumble across things you don't expect. 

I had so much fun photographing everything, so different to our usual destinations. It's been a long while since we've visited Asia.

Pink pineapples!

We got up early on our lash morning to make the journey to Hambantota. We’d heard great things about Galle, a historic Dutch fort town that was just a short detour off the highway so asked to stop there for an hour.

The journey zoomed by because there was so much to see on every road, even the highways.

As we got off the highway & closer to Galle we loved watching the fishermen preparing today's catch on the side of the road, or the fruit sellers with pineapples and coconuts stacked up. 

I loved seeing the fishermen perched on stilts as they've traditionally practiced. {Although these days they've got so used to tourists taking photos that they now charge! So entrepreneurial, and I imagine they make more of a living from having photos taken then they do actually fishing!} 

Still, we were happy to oblige as it was such an iconic scene.

Galle was a real highlight.

A world heritage site, we loved wandering the streets finding chippy old shutters, retro cars & tuk-tuks scenically placed.

There were boutique hotels & shops. Along with pretty doors I couldn't resist getting some photos by.

My dress is online here, although it keeps going in and out of stock!

When your colours match the tuk tuk!

Bikes & palms.

Galle is right on the coast and is a walled city. It was a bit hazy on the morning we visited {yet SO hot & sticky} but the sea was so clear regardless. People often spot turtles here too!

There was a cricket match going on in the international stadium just the other side of the wall, much to Ben's delight.

And for me, more tiles please. I loved that morning so much.

And then it was on to the next stop, Hambantota {our favourite part of the trip!}

Back with Part Two soon,

R <3 xx

You can find more on the Shangri La Hotel Colombo here.

{I was a guest of Shangri La but all opinions are 100% my own and I would never promote anywhere that I didn't truly love}

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  1. Hi Rebecca, loved the post. Really inspiring pictures! Looks like such a lovely place.
    Would you be able to let me know where the straw bag you are wearing is from? Thanks!


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