Destinations

Where to eat, stay and drink in Colombo

Sri Lanka's capital is a boomtown of skyscrapers but its soul endures in heritage neighbourhoods, writes Kendall Hill.

By Kendall Hill
Jami UI-Alfar Mosque in Pettah, Colombo

WHERE TO EAT

Paradise Road Gallery Café Set in a walled garden at the rear of architect Geoffrey Bawa's former office in fashionable Kollupitiya, Paradise Road is where the smart set gathers for cocktails (try the frozen Tamarind Chilli Margarita), cakes (displayed on Bawa's original desk) and exceptional baked crab. Allow time to browse contemporary homewares in the store and rotating exhibitions by local artists in the gallery.

2 Alfred House Rd, paradiseroad.lk

Paradise Road Gallery Café

Rare at Uga Residences

Rare caters to the corporate heavyweights and chic shoppers of Park Street with a 150-label wine cellar and a menu of mostly organic produce from Uga's high-country gardens. Expect modern takes on traditional ingredients - perhaps local yellowfin paired with foie gras, or a coconut sambol ice-cream.

Kaema Sutra

Ministry of Crab in the Old Dutch Hospital is a package-tourist favourite full of diners sporting "Keep Calm & Crab" bibs (Old Dutch Hospital, ministryofcrab.com). For a more sophisticated taste of high-profile chef Dharshan Munidasa's cooking head to Kaema Sutra at the Shangri-La Hotel.

1 Galle Face, Colombo 2, Sri Lanka, shangri-la.com

Ministry of Crab

WHERE TO STAY

Maniumpathy

This ancestral mansion in Colombo 7, the elegant embassy district, is a quiet oasis of eight suites decorated with sepia-toned family portraits and four-poster beds. Most have a terrace onto the pool or a balcony above it. Expect the kind of style and service that distinguishes its sister properties, which include The Kandy House and The Last House.

129 Kynsey Rd, maniumpathy.com

WHERE TO SHOP

Plâté

Colombo's premier photographic studio cince 1890, Plâté comprises five floors crammed with vintage prints, collectibles, antiques and books.

580 Galle Rd; platelimited.com

Rithihi

Hand-woven saris at Rithihi in Kollupitiya are sourced from across India.

19 Alfred House Gardens

Barefoot Gallery

Barefoot Gallery continues to be the most reliable barometer of the country's creative scene.

704 Galle Rd, barefootceylon.com

Barefoot Gallery

DRINK

The Sky Lounge at the Kingsbury Hotel

The 11th-floor Sky Lounge at the Kingsbury Hotel has views of the Indian Ocean but it's best known for its Martini menu and spirits sold by the shot or bottle.

48 Janadhipathi Mawatha, thekingsburyhotel.com

Whight and Co

At Whight & Co, pure Sri Lankan arabica beans are roasted on site and served with sea views from a converted Art Deco space.

24 Marine Dr

Chennai Café

The charming Mr Rusthi makes the spiciest masala chai in town at Chennai Café in Pettah market.

47 China St

THINGS TO DO

Hear fascinating stories of commerce and crime, sieges and civil war on a city tour by architectural photographer Mark Forbes, ending with a G&T at the Grand Oriental Hotel. combocitywalks.blogspot

GETTING THERE

SriLankan Airlines flies direct from Melbourne to Colombo. Singapore Airlines flies from major Australian airports to Colombo via Singapore.

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  • Author: Kendall Hill