After the political upheaval final yr, Sri Lanka has bounced again, and it’s time for a go to to Colombo. A seaside metropolis with a flourishing heritage scene, Colombo is the right begin (or finish) to any Sri Lankan vacation. The capital is famously house to some postcard-perfect colonial-era monuments – and naturally, well-known residences and buildings by its most well-known architect, Geoffrey Bawa. However there’s a lot extra to expertise.
A metropolis that’s continuously remodeling, components of Colombo are actually gentrifying with new upscale procuring hubs, high-rise developments and a swanky port metropolis. Add to this the multicultural neighbourhoods teeming with temples, mosques, church buildings and buzzing markets with contemporary produce.
Right here’s our lowdown on the perfect that Colombo has to supply – in addition to a couple of getaways simply past.
The place to remain in and round Colombo
Proper by the tree-lined stretch of Ward Place and simply two streets from Viharamahadevi Park stands Jetwing Colombo Seven, the native lodge model’s metropolitan addition with deluxe rooms, studios and residences that supply metropolis views. Its restobar Ward 7 sits by the lodge’s rooftop infinity pool and serves island-influenced nibbles like devilled pork marinated with chilli, deep-fried and blended with curry. If you happen to’re on the lookout for a really feel of town’s native nightlife, ask the concierge concerning the lodge’s cheekily named “Dodgy Bar Tour”.
Jetwing Colombo Seven
Legendary Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa has given the island many beautiful public buildings and luxurious inns, the latter typically booked up months upfront. However Tropical Modernism followers brief on time (and funds) can snag an evening or two at this mattress and breakfast within the coronary heart of Colombo. Bawa renovated it as a personal house for famend Sri Lankan live performance pianist Druvi de Saram in 1986, and it’s presently maintained by the Geoffrey Bawa Belief. Spacious and characterful rooms apart, the highlights of the gracefully growing old property are its clay-coloured courtyard and the art-filled piano room (request a tour from the property supervisor).
Photograph: De Saram Home
A two-hour drive south from Colombo, passing the heritage metropolis of Galle, Cape Weligama is a Relais & Chateaux resort that delivers breathtaking views at each flip. Take pleasure in a vista of the Indian Ocean together with your made-to-order breakfast at Ocean Terrace, mirror on the waves from the infinity-style Half Moon Pool or absorb the sundown gentle on the surf over a personal dinner from one of many viewpoints. The villas – named after historic explorers – include huge loos, dressing rooms and mod-cons similar to top-notch Bluetooth audio system. Relying on the season, the waters round Weligama are additionally excellent for browsing and whale-watching, which the lodge will likely be glad to rearrange.
Photograph: Cape Endlessly
Photograph: Cape Endlessly
The place to eat in Colombo
Rice and curry are staples of Sri Lankan delicacies, and Nuga Gama provides an genuine place to strive it. Set round a 200-year-old banyan tree contained in the luxe metropolis lodge Cinnamon Grand, this rustic restaurant solely open for dinner creates a Sri Lankan village really feel with its in-house natural farm, kerosene lanterns and girls cooks dishing up traditional Sri Lankan fare handed down via the generations. The restaurant’s reside stations dish up traditional Sri Lankan avenue meals like appam, or egg hoppers (bowl-shaped snacks topped with an egg) and kottu roti (chopped flatbread mashed with greens, egg and a meat of your alternative).
Photograph: Knife Gama Colombo
Properly-placed on the colourful leisure avenue of Park Avenue Mews, Monsoon is the place to go to for a style of Southeast Asia. The lunch menu provides traditional plates like nasi lemak (coconut rice served with spicy chili paste, anchovies, peanuts and boiled egg) and pad thai (stir-fried rice noodles) whereas dinner options Malaysian tauhu bakar, grilled crispy tofu plated with mango salad. There’s additionally a collection of native spirits like Rockland gin and arrack. The fine-dining venue’s excessive ceilings and stylish decor make it a first-rate date spot.
Baked Pumpkin & Custard Cake with Honey. Photograph: Monsoon
Monsoon’s Rooster Satay. Photograph: Monsoon
The place to drink in Colombo
One in all a number of hotspots alongside the pedestrian-only Park Avenue Mews – the place Colombo’s well-dressed hipsters congregate – Uncle’s stands out with its retro-chic signage and interiors, DJ nights and traditional cocktails with Sri Lankan twists. The Amba Martini options mango and spices, whereas the Kolompuré Manhattan sees rye whiskey changed with arrack and the vermouth infused with cardamom and nutmeg. The bar bites are additionally standouts – cancel your dinner plans and order hearty “brief eats” such because the lamb rolls and cheese toast.
Ranked #42 by Asia’s 50 Greatest Bars, Smoke & Bitters is effectively definitely worth the two hours’ drive alongside the Southern Expressway from Colombo. It’s a captivating spot inside a coconut backyard within the nation’s newest surf city Hiriketiya, and the cocktail record is all about championing island spirits and native substances. Drinks embrace rum cocktails blended with sundried stoneapple flower and arrack paired with banana peel and smoked wild bee honey. The equally excellent smokehouse menu provides pulled pork, smoked jackfruit and chargrilled barramundi.
Photograph: Smoke & Bitters
What to do in Colombo
A fast on-line search would flip up sights the likes of Colombo Fort, Seema Malaka Lake Temple and Jami Ul-Alfar Masjid (often known as the Purple Mosque) as must-see sights when visiting Colombo. However listed here are a few stops that, in our humble opinion, are to not be missed – particularly for the heritage and artwork fanatic.
Boasting an intensive assortment of artefacts, this sacred Buddhist temple situated near Beira Lake was established 120 years in the past. Two Buddha statues guard the temple’s wood door entrance, which options intricate traditional-style elephant and swan carvings. The in-house museum showcases antiques similar to sculptures of Hindu gods, classic cash and watches. Then there’s the nation’s smallest Buddha statue housed in a glass field, solely seen by a magnifying glass. Bear in mind to decorate modestly while you go to.
This up to date gallery – the primary of its form in Colombo – spotlights the works of younger native artists and island natives. Because it opened in 2009, this independently-run house has helped elevate Colombo’s artwork scene with exhibitions all year long. Featured artists embrace Firi Rahman and Shaanea Mendis, whose works each discover the connection between man and nature in numerous methods.
Photograph: Saskia Fernando Gallery
The place to buy in Colombo
Paradise Highway is among the many most famous homeware and decor manufacturers in Colombo. Their flagship retailer reverse Viharamahadevi Park sells a curated assortment of handicrafts, antiques and painted by hand crockery, crafted by expert artisans from cottage industries throughout Sri Lanka. Different gadgets on supply embrace batik napkins, desk runners, scented candles and quirky door stoppers. An in-store cafe serves espresso and nice truffles.
Photograph: Paradise Highway
The neighbourhood surrounding Viharamhadevi Park continues to draw stylish, upmarket retail shops. And the whole lot at City Island is a aware nod to the gradual, tropical lifetime of Sri Lanka. This vigorous idea retailer offers in handmade cushion covers made utilizing heritage methods, cane furnishings and jute rugs. Don’t miss its planters made with sundried palmyrah palm leaves, dyed and hand-woven into intricate designs by girls in Sri Lanka’s north.
Photograph: City Island
For our full record on issues to do and locations to see in Colombo, try our Colombo Metropolis Information. For extra info on Singapore Airways flights to Colombo, go to the official web site.