The breathtaking masterpiece of Victorian architecture, the Galle Face Hotel is the place of choice to stay in Sri Lanka for Royalty and celebrities from all over the world. The classic hotel was initiated by four British entrepreneurs in 1864, as a Dutch Villa named ‘The Galle Face House’. The hotel was the centre of the British high-life during the early 1900’s and was even immortalized in a song about the hotel’s legendary night club – ‘The Coconut Grove’. The hotel also employs the world’s oldest hospitality-industry doorman, Kottarapattu Chattu (K.C.) Kuttan. ‘K.C.’ Joined the hotel as a bell boy in 1942, and after 68 years, has become an iconic figure of not only the hotel, but also of the Sri Lankan tourism industry.
GFH boasts an extensive list of royalty and distinguished personalities from across continents, including the husband of Queen Elizabeth II – Prince Philip- Duke of Edinburgh, Emperor Hirohito of Japan, Princess Alexandra of Denmark, Indira Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, the American President Richard Nixon, Cricketing legend Sir Don Bradman, the beloved James Bond actor-Sir Roger Moore, American actress Carrie Fisher who famously played Princess Leiah in Star Wars and even the first man in space-Yuri Gagarin. The Gall Face Hotel nearing its 150th Jubilee is thought to be one of the most beautiful and the most historic hotels of Asia, and as rightly spoken of by one of its royal visitors – Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan: ‘Happiness is the Galle Face Hotel’.
Mount Lavinia Hotel
The romantic hotel Mount Lavinia is a place that is overpoweringly nostalgic of the bygone Colonial era. Situated next to the Indian Ocean which guarantees spectacular sunsets almost every evening, the hotel has many wonderful tales linked to it. Its origins date back to the early 1800’s when the then governor Sir Thomas Maitland built the stunning structure for his personal use. The legend has it that Sir Maitland fell in love with a Sri Lankan gypsy girl who was an exotic dancer – her name was Loveena, which Maitland pronounced as ‘Lavinia’. Although both knew that their romance could never have a happy ending, the two lovers continued to meet in a secret underground tunnel which Maitland had built for the exact purpose. Although Thomas Maitland was forced to leave his love for the duty for the crown, it is said that he never loved again and chose to die a bachelor many years later. But their love was eternalized by the name ‘Lavinia’ given to the town and the mansion (the present hotel) where the secret tunnel (now closed down) still lies beneath the building bearing witness to the romantic saga.