This is one of those expensive gift places for expensive people. Want something that smells old and affirms that you are indeed a person of class and distinction? Hit up the Hermitage. Like Paradise Road and Gandhara it deals in antiques- furniture, stone work, smaller ornaments and figurines. Of this expensive, upmarket category however I like Hermitage the best.
It’s down the very attractive Gower Street and has a cluttered and homely feel. Though this is somewhat deceptive – on closer inspection you realise that everything is quite meticulously arranged to simulate clutter – but in fact shows off each individual piece in the best possible light. This is in no way a bad thing, these are lovely pieces- traditional local woodwork and craft as well as imported Indian and East Asian antquties.
It’s probably the best curated selection of expensive, old things in town. Every piece is interesting and attractive and they are quite strikingly arranged- a crocodile, vertical in a corner behind a seated Buddha, showing off the height of a heavy, ancient doorframe for example. With its large and lovely courtyard- strewn with statues and arranged around a giant golden buddha, this is a pleasant enough space that its worth wondering into even you aren’t really minded to buy anything.
My one complaint is that there are too many Indian and Balinese/Myanmar bits and bobs. While this means you do get something different from the old-Ceylon look – the imported artefacts are sold at significant mark up and surely Balinese figurines and decorated Rajasthani Indian horses are getting a little clichéd?
Still even in terms of slightly overpriced foreign furnishings the Hermitage has some of the best on offer –there’s something decadent about the selection- ornate, canopied Indian bed, delicately patterned antique hookahs, huge, leering Benin-esque facemasks. My personal favourites though are the lighter curios – snoopy collectibles, 60’s posters, and sleeves from vinyl-records ferreted out from Colombar homes…
Whatever your taste in decoration this is a very useful spot but keep in mind it’s really not cheap. Unless you budget is over rs 5000 it’s better if its nearer 10k, you wont find much here. For larger pieces of furniture and statuary seem to start at Rs 50 000 and go up to a lakh and somewhat beyond. Expensive objects, however there are times when one needs to purchase such things and for those times- or even for some casual browsing to enjoy a nice space, keep the hermitage in mind.