Colombo Courtyard.

One of Colombo’s prettier urban escapes, Colombo Courtyard is a boutique hotel in the heart of Colpetty. As it avoids the usual business hotel tag, the vibe is entirely different. It retains the usual service and quality you’d expect from a 5 star hotel minus the soulless feel.

Décor & Ambience

No marble expanses or uniform colour codes, the hotel has a distinct personality and a lot of quirky local art scattered across the premises. There are paintings by Mika Tenekoon and Asvajit Boyle, along with scrap metal sculptures by Prageeth Manohansa, both evoking the local flora and birdlife.

The worn brick floors and use of metal from railway sleepers add a charming touch (albeit a tad slippery during rainy days), and the soft spotlight lighting is tasteful. The hotel was originally five different buildings that were renovated and reconstructed in order to become one seamless structure. The interior décor is commendable not just for its understated taste but the creative use of recycled material.

Service

The Courtyard service strikes a fine balance between attentive and discreet, which is always appreciated. Better still they’re fairly personalized, which is a perk of never being full of tour buses of tourists. I’ve always found them to be superbly friendly and cheerful. The cloud café unfortunately seems to take a while to get service, but it’s such a peaceful lazy location that I didn’t seem to mind too much.

Rooms

Being a boutique hotel, unique touches are important and uniform room décor would have been pointless. At the Courtyard each of the 32 rooms are crafted with different colour schemes, art pieces and positioning.

The ground floor rooms each feature a little rock garden-eqsue courtyard. Most of the rooms on the other floors unfortunately don’t have a balcony or a great view, which is sad but to be expected in a busy urban location. That being said, it’s commendable that we couldn’t hear any traffic or general road cacophony inside the rooms despite being feet away from the horrid Duplication jam.

The four poster beds in the suites are sinfully comfortable, with feather pillows and 350 thread count linen. The usual quality amenities are in place – TV, desk, mini bar, varied toiletries, rainwater shower, bathtub. The décor is quite cosy and quirky, although not as artsy as the lobby area.

The rooms go at about $ 130 to $ 200 a night, depending on rate fluctuations and whether you choose a standard or suite.

Restaurants & Bars

For a relatively small hotel, Colombo Courtyard has a fairly large number of outlets. The Cloud café is a rooftop bar/ restaurant that opens at sunset. It’s got a chic, romancey vibe with sleek lounge music, soft lighting and an open kitchen. Their grill specials are brilliant, and their best drink is probably their Pimm’s cocktail, especially on a hot day.

The Scarlet Room is their in-house restaurant. It’s fairly small but decorated in a funky urban manner, with deep red walls, bright blue stemware, and great black and white photos up on the wall. We haven’t eaten there yet so can’t attest to the food.

The Loft bar is possibly the most popular of their establishments, especially on weekday evenings when they have a great post-work happy hour. Their cocktails are fun and innovative, and come at the usual swanky bar price of about Rs. 800. It’s comforting that the bartenders know exactly what they’re doing, so you can really just unwind after work and not have to worry about service or taste. The snacks here are a bit of a hit or miss. The chicken pakoras are cheap at Rs. 500 and absolutely delish, whereas their beef nachos were just tortilla chips with tomato sauce, Kraft singles and some bits of mince beef scattered on top. So maybe that’s an area for improvement.

The poolside restaurant and bar is just lovely at all times, although on a hot Colombo day it takes quite a bit of self-restraint to not abandon your lunch and hop into the pool for a sneaky dip.
It has an elegant feel at night time for a quiet drink. The day time however is superbly blissful, especially when you know there’s Duplication road traffic teeming about just feet away and you can’t see or hear it (barring the occasional bus honk). They have a nice selection of beers and serve the Scarlet Room menu for meals. We tried a snack of lagoon prawns which was borderline perfect.

They’ve recently launched a little wine lounge near the lobby too. It features a couple of seating options, and a chilled wine cellar. The best bit however, for the pun-tastic of us, is the name – Grape Expectations.

Conclusion

Colombo Courtyard has our vote. It’s cosy, tasteful, and has a lot of cool art and décor strewn everywhere. For people on business or tourists on holiday in the city, this is possibly one of the best options along with Casa Colombo. For us Colombo-dwellers, their bars provide a nice respite right smack in the middle of the city. Their prices are a bit high, but it’s to be expected for the swank-factor they offer.

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