It hasn't been open that long, and it's been 'known' about for even less time, but the Havelock Bungalow is rapidly becoming one of the places to stay in Colombo.
It's basically an old colonial bungalow turned into an art gallery. Deciding to expand, the owners began to let out the bedrooms and open a small restaurant. There's a shaded leafy garden where you sit and eat (weather permitting!) - the Sri Lankan and international menu is a bit limited but very good. There's a small swimming pool amid the trees.
Unique Quality: It's almost like staying in a house rather than a hotel. There are only six rooms so competition can be fierce but as yet very few people still know about it. If you can't stay here at least come and eat.
The art collection remains and you're free to wander about the house and kitchen having a look. It's a very relaxing place, in one of Colombo's most peaceful suburbs and a fair walk down a small lane. To add to the relaxation and 'out of the city' feel they also offer massage and jacuzzis. A great escape when you've had enough of the city.
Directions: Head south down Havelock Road in Colombo 5. On your right is a large petrol station and the bungalow is signposted down a small lane just after.
We stayed 4 nights in January 2011. The Havelock was a great place to start our visit to Sri Lanka. This hotel will suit those who like their accommodation to be comfortable, quiet and characteristic of the place. It would not suit people who want bustle and the familiar blandness of chain hotels. Our suite was very pleasant. We had an unusual 'stone' platform bed with a good dense, foam mattress which we both found very comfortable. Our sitting room had a door opening right onto the small swimming pool, which I found delightfully refreshing for a swim first thing in the morning. The hotel is built in traditional bungalow style and has a typical verandah and a small, pleasant garden. One note of caution is that Colombo seems to be home to the most aggressive mosquitoes in Sri Lanka but this is a characteristic of the city, not Havelock in particular.
The food is also very good. It is freshly prepared and a delicious introduction to Sri Lankan food with a very reasonable selection of both local dishes and western options. Also, I reckoned the coffee the best I had in the whole month we spent in Sri Lanka and Kerala.
Shamala and all her staff are friendly and helpful.
I would certainly not stay anywhere else in Colombo when I next visit.
Unique Quality: The main notable characteristic of the Havelock is the friendliness of the hotel management and staff. The advantage of small-scale is a feeling of intimacy. They really look after you.
Directions: Havelock Town district south of Central Colombo (20 mins)
100 Hotel Road, Colombo
25 Galle Face Centre Road, Colombo
2 Sir Chittampalam A Gardiner Mawatha, Colombo
64 Lotus Road, Colombo
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Address: 6, Havelock Place, Colombo 5, Colombo, Sri Lanka