Luxury Colombo City Guide

Article originally posted by Barbara of Jet-Settera, one of my fellow travel bloggers during a promotional tour with the Sri Lankan Tourism Board.

Why do you recommend Colombo as a luxury destination?

Like the rest of the island, Sri Lanka is small yet extremely diverse, with Colombo no exception. It’s suited to luxury travellers seeking experience and culture- there aren’t big designer brands (yet!) that you find in other Asian capitals such as Shanghai or Singapore. The restaurant scene is fantastic (Top Sri Lankan Restaurants in Colombo) and there is so much to see and do (2 Nights in Colombo Guide).

Best hotel?

My favourite hotel is Cinnamon Red. It’s grander counterpart, aptly named Cinnamon Grand is also fantastic (I regularly visit their British pub ‘Cheers’, Indian restaurant ‘Chutneys’ and poolside bar), but with Red’s super modern, stylish comforts combined with affordability and an infinity rooftop pool, this hotel has the favourable edge for me.

Cinnamon Red infinity pool
Cinnamon Red’s infinity pool

Best boutique hotel?

Sri Lanka hosts many luxury boutique hotels with unique character and charm. My favourite hotel is Casa Colombo, a super stylish boutique boasting out of this world, ecletic interiors, all set in a stunning white moorish mansion built over 200 years ago.

Best spa?

Spa Ceylon’s flagship branch in Colombo 7 is remarkable- I had a detoxifying full body scrub/massage a few weeks ago which was one of the best treatments I’ve ever had worldwide. 

Best restaurants?

As previously mentioned, there is some exquisite Sri Lankan cuisine on offer- both traditional and fusion. Sri Lankan restaurant Kaema Sutra at the Independence Arcade is my current favourite haunt. Their pollos (young jackfruit) curry with a side order mallum, dhal and oven roasted ‘kadey paan’ (bread) is to die for. 

Kaema Sutra; dhal, stringhoppers and pollos

Best sweets?

Butter Boutique in Colombo not only sells cakes that taste as good as they look, it also has the best coffee in town. For local desserts, Sri Lankan restaurant Upalis does an amazing Wattalapam; a coconut custard pudding with cashew nuts, spices and jaggery- local unrefined sugar made from palm sap.

Cupcakes at Butter Boutique

Best bars?

There are some fantastic rooftop bars in Colombo. Sky Lounge at The Kingsbury is in the centre of Colombo however Ozo Hotels’ bar ON14 serves the best espresso martini and cocktails encorporating local liquor, arrack.

Best club?

Although I tend to visit cocktail bars more often than nightclubs, I would recommend Kama or Clique.

Best spots during the day?

Paradise Road and Barefoot sell stylish travel memorabilia in the form of homewear, clothing, food etc. Barefoot also hosts a lovely restaurant/cafe, especially good on a Sunday afternoon for jazz.

Best view of the city?

The view from Cinnamon Red’s rooftop.

View of Colombo from Cinnamon Red

Best shopping?

For affordable fashion, Tropic of Linen is my current favourite, selling comfortable, light clothes that are easy to wear and stylish for men and women. Salt by Batik (womenswear only) embraces traditional batik design with a contemporary slant. Both are extremely affordable. For high end designer fashion with an Asian slant I love Zudhora, or for a more European look, PR.

Shopping at Tropic of Linen

Adventurous activities?

For real adventure seekers I recommend heading north of the capital for kite surfing in Kalpitiya. I think the most adventurous activity in Colombo is the Tuk Tuk Safari experience- the roof opens and you can stand up and watch the world go by driving through the historic streets of Pettah- you need to be a little ballsy as it attracts a lot of attention!

Best beach?

There isnt a beach I would recommend in the capital itself but Mount Lavinia (30-40 minutes) in the suburbs is a popular destination for both tourists and locals as well as Negombo, closer to the airport. The best beaches are found down South, or North in Passikudah. 

Best sunset?

My favourite spots are Galle Face Green for local street food and a breathtaking view of both nature and city or the Buddhist lake temple Seema Malaka.

Sunset at Galle Face Green

Bio: Alice Luker is a professional photographer and travel blogger based in Sri Lanka- founder of Style in Sri Lanka, a travel & culture blog featuring inspirational luxury travel combined with local life across the island. SIS encourages responsible, eco friendly tourism, with an aim to educate, preserve and embrace the beauty of Sri Lankan culture.

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Alice Luker

I'm a photographer and travel blogger based in the UK, venturing across Sri Lanka since 2004.

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