By Sherwani Synon
The Galle Face green has always been a favorite place of mine to visit. Although I can’t recall my earliest memory of the place, I remember going there often when I was in my teens. What started off as a few visits to Galle Face turned into a tradition in a short time. Every other Saturday, my family and I would drive down to take long strolls and enjoy the sea breeze, the night sky and most of all the view of the beautiful ocean.
While ambling along the green grass, our eyes would glance over to the magnificent structure that stands tall and elegant next to the beach. Tall palm trees and glowing lights only add to the already picturesque view.
Galle Face Hotel (GFH) is, and will be Sri Lanka’s Grand Old Lady. First established in 1864 as an old Dutch villa, it was then known as Galle Face house. The hotel consists of two wings - the Classic and the Regency. The Classic wing offers the old world charm together with colonial architecture, antique furniture and modern facilities.
Tall archways overlooking the ocean welcome you as you enter the Regency wing of Hotel. Luxury and class is evident in every nook and corner of this wing, and the antique wooden steps next to the reception lead to the Pasticcino and the GFH museum.
The GFH museum has a collection of memorabilia accumulated since the inception of the hotel. The items include china used by the hotel, a cannon ball with historical significance and the first car used by Prince Phillip when he served in the Royal Navy in the then Ceylon in 1940.
Visits from famous people only add to the historical significance of the hotel. From Statesmen to astronauts, actors to royalty, a variety of famous personalities have walked down the corridors of the hotel.
I was served lunch in the Verandah, overlooking the checkerboard and the ocean. Although I didn’t count, I’m fairly certain there was a variety of 20 dishes, including vegetable biryani, mutton curry, seafood laksa thermidor, BBQ glazed chicken and fish stew.
However, I felt the meal was not up to expectation. My favorite dish though, was the mutton curry which was both tasty and well flavored. The dessert counter was stacked with an assortment of sweetmeats, varying from hot chocolate pudding to jellies and cakes.
The High Tea at GFH is an experience in itself. The food, the ambience and the view is unique to the hotel, and is a must if you’re exploring Colombo.