During my recent visit to Sri Lanka, I was invited to dine at one of my family’s favourite spots, the Galle Face Hotel. My maternal grandfather worked most of his life at this hotel and so it has always held a special place in our hearts. Growing up I heard many a story about the Galle Face Hotel and the dignitaries who had stayed there. The most told story is of Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon, and while I was always hesitant to believe the stories, given that Galle Face was founded in 1864 and is one of the oldest hotels east of the Suez, the stories must be true! I mean even Mahatma Gandhi is said to have stayed here!
You may recall how I part moaned – part reveled in the fact that I was going to miss Mother’s Day…wasn’t it fitting that I enjoyed a delicious Afternoon Tea at the Galle Face hotel with my grandmother, my aunt (who is like a second mom) and my cousins? We arrived around 4:30 p.m. and were greeted at the Verandah restaurant by the sounds of a sitar and accordian. The moment you step into this half outdoor terrace-half indoor restaurant, your eyes are drawn to the water. Yes, you are indeed staring at the edge of the Indian Ocean and it’s absolutely spectacular. Hang around for the sunset and you can thank me later for the tip.
We were seated underneath the fans and greeted with an ice cold glass of cold coffee-given how hot and humid it was in May, I was most grateful! I’m obsessed with Sri Lankan cold coffee and drink it any chance I have so I was jumping for joy when that ice cold glass touched my lips. Once settled in, three tiers of food were placed in front of us and we dug in.
Executive Chef, Adam Gaunt-Evans popped by to greet us and shared stories of how most of his menus rely on local produce. The farm to table concept is strong even in Colombo-wohoo!
As I watched the coconut trees sway in front of me, I enjoyed the scones and passion fruit jam that was made in house. I enjoyed nearly all the sweet treats, especially the love cake with a little meringue on the top. When it came to the savoury items, the sandwiches and the fried goods (cutlets, spring rolls and samosas), were all good. Everything is prepped and made daily and you can definitely taste the quality. The only item I really did not enjoy was the hand roll, but I am a sushi snob and quite spoiled living in Toronto, so that’s kind of expected!
Just as I was about to dig into my third glass of cold coffee and rub my filled belly, I heard bag pipes.. err.. bag pipes? Yes!! A kilted gent was being escorted to the Sri Lankan flag as it was time to take the flag down at sunset. It’s hard to know what my grandmother was thinking about at this moment, but she had a look that made me believe that she was thinking of the ‘good old days’. The Galle Face hotel oozes with historic charm and I wish I had the time to get an official tour of the property because there’s so much history here and they’ve also preserved many of the relics gathered over the years.
Afternoon tea goes from 4 to 6 p.m. and we were in a very chatty mood as I had some of my other cousins link up with us for a drink and so we moved our conversation to the gorgeous hotel lobby. Gorgeous and air conditioned! I love the original wall-length terracotta mural that many tourists were taking pictures in front of. No matter when you visit the hotel, you’ll always spot a bride! This visit was no different and memories were sparked of attending family weddings here and my first night as Mr & Mrs (we spent our 1st night at this hotel!).
The Galle Face hotel is truly Sri Lanka’s Grand Damme and a visit here should be on every travellers list. Whether you’re booking yourself into one of the many renovated rooms, popping by for a drink on the green lawn or swinging by for afternoon tea, ensure you do it around sunset because it’s most definitely very picturesque! I can’t wait to take Little Monkey and Baby Boy here when we return in November this year!