Harbour Room (Grand Oriental Hotel).

In another century the GOH along with the Galle Face Hotel was the fast-beating heart of Colombo’s social life. The great and the good of Colombo society swirled and twirled over its immaculately polished dance floor and those disembarking at the Colombo port made immediately for its impressive white foyer.

Times changed however and fortunes of the GOH mirrored those of the country. The war would see the Fort and the port become high security zones and business dried up. At its lowest ebb it was rumoured that rooms at this venerable hotel were being given out by the hour.

The hotel though like the area around it is now going through a serious resurgence and while it is still a shadow of its former self its impossible not to feel the glamour of bygone days when you look out over the port from the stunning harbour room.

One of the best views anywhere in the city or the region, in an incredibly under-rated colonial property.

It won’t be long before this building turns into a Raffles hotel or Mandarin Oriental and while the refurbishment will be welcome, the new prices won’t, so to the majority of Colombians YAMU says – go now, go often. Soon this will probably be only for the wealthy.

The hotel was built in 1837 so it’s more than 150 years old. Some say the hotel is haunted by spirits from a century ago – you might get a feel of it in the old wooden-paneled elevators or the once-grand Harbour Room. The Harbour Room has a spooky feeling, à la The Shining – the corridor outside carries an old musky smell, it’s usually abandoned at nights, with just the bartender and the saxophone player, and the harbour lights and ancient buildings outside. It’s definitely a cool spot to hang out and tell ghost stories. 

Photos by Shifani

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