Tucked away from the crowded beaches of Balapitiya, Shinagawa Beach by Asia Leisure is a meticulously designed, gorgeous beach hotel that gives you the best of both worlds – the sea and the lagoon.
They’ve got 26 rooms spread throughout three floors, including Deluxe rooms and a couple of suites. At about 20k – 40k per night, they offer beautifully appointed rooms with very comfortable beds, A/C, Wi-Fi, flat screen TV, mini bar, coffee maker and usually a sea view.
(The prices change depending on the season and timings, type of room and deals available. Therefore, check booking.com for updated rates.)
We stayed in one of their Double Deluxe rooms, which had an incredibly cozy king-sized bed, a dressing table, wardrobe and a comfortable chair, among other things.
The bathroom was small, but it was clean, neat, spotless and well appointed with plenty of amentities, including a bathtub.
The balcony provides the ideal setting if you want to alternate your gaze between the turquoise waters of the Indian ocean, tufty clouds and the palm dotted shores of the Balapitiya.
Shinagawa Beach has a great semi indoor pool, in the midst of their Salt restaurant, and the Crimson bar. It opens to the backyard of the hotel, which extends to the beach.
This is indeed a good spot to have a swim, and to do what we mostly want to do in a hotel pool – chill, while enjoying the spectacular views of the Balapitiya beach and the skyline.
Dining & Drinks
We had lunch and breakfast (included in the room price) at their restaurant Salt, and a couple of cocktails from their bar, Crimson.
From local favorites to continental picks, the breakfast spread at Shinagawa was truly impressive. The local breakfast spread included stuff like pittu, pol roti, boiled bathala (sweet potatoes) with scraped coconut, manioc, and a bunch of curries to pair them with – egg, fish, dhal, and chicken, to name a few.
As for continental favorites, they've got waffles, pancakes, bread, buns, pastries, oats, scrambled eggs and even cereal. You can observe how some of these food are being made at their outdoor action station.
The jam, marmalade, and butter they offer are made from scratch, which is another plus point.
We opted for a little bit of both cuisines.
The scrambled eggs we tried were simply 'eggcellent' with creamy and cheesy goodness coming through, and the bacon was cooked nicely with a hint of crispiness.
They do some great pancakes – fluffy, light and slightly sweet, with a drizzle of maple syrup on top.
Out of the curries, I tried the chicken and dhal, which were made with a dose of southern love. Adequately spicy, with lots of curry taste, this place really knows their way through Sri Lankan curries.
The pol roti was embedded with tiny bits of karapincha, which added to the extra flavor.
The lunch menu at Shinagawa Beach covers a wide array of cusines, so you'll have a lot to choose from.
We started our meal with the Balapitiya Ocean Seafood Soup with Mediterranean Herbed Bread Stick (Rs. 850). Easily enough for two people, it's a thin soup that comes with plenty of boiled cuttlefish, prawns and crab to go with every sip. To kick it up a notch, we garnished it with a twist of lime, which gave a nice sour kick to it.
Their freshly baked goods were light, airy and flavorsome, plus you can pair it with plain butter, mayonnaise, chili seasoning, or orange butter – which actually deserves a special shoutout. It was lightly sweetened, very orangey and made some really delicious combinations with the bread.
As I was craving for some Indian food, I ordered the Chicken Butter Masala (Rs. 1950), which was absolutely delicious. It came with a portion of tandoori roti, cucumber and tomato salad, as well as some good old pappadam.
By far, this chicken butter masala is the best chicken butter masala I've had, and let me tell you, I've tried quite a lot.
The boneless chicken was cooked just right, with a thick curry binding well to it. While it had very distinctive notes of spices, and seasoning, the gravy itself was on a darker shade of orange. There was a pretty good balance between the tanginess and spiciness, and a lot of curry taste. We loved it!
The rotis were good, warm, and fresh out the oven, with a slightly buttery exterior.
Now, let's talk about this magnificient Grilled Jumbo Prawns (Rs. 3750 for 500g), accompanied with lemon salt, steamed rice, garlic mushroom, garlic mashed and garlic butter. The sides are of your choice, really, and we decided to go ahead with a lot of garlic based ones, because why not? Garlic and prawns always make a great combo.
It came with three prawns, in large, medium and small sizes, which were grilled to perfection. The prawns were fleshy, succulent and delicious – making for a real treat. These are export quality prawns, farmed in Madu lagoon, so you actually get a significant amount of prawn meat instead of just shells.
As for desserts, we got the Butterscotch Cheesecake (Rs. 650), and the Bitter Mousse Terrine (Rs. 750). Out of the two, the cheesecake was our most favorite. It had a very rich and creamy cheesecake filling, with a swirl of butterscotch running through. Topped off with a scoop of Shinagawa Beach's homemade vanilla gelato, which had an insanely buttery texture, this one is the real deal.
Glazed with chocolate and served with chocolate sauce, the bitter mousse terrine had a thick and creamy consistency, and everything together made for a one heavenly dessert.
To wash down our food, we ordered the Double Chocolate Shake (Rs. 750) and the Fruity Delight (Rs. 750). The double chocolate shake was very chocolatey, thick and not overly sweet.
The Fruity Delight had an interesting blend of peach, mango, yogurt, coconut cream and honey. It was refreshing, tasted like a mixed fruit lassie, with all the flavors coming out strong very nicely.
(Aside from the usuals, Shinagawa Beach has this special 'Wine & Dine' dinner every three months. It's limited to 25 seats, and features some of their best food and wine.)
*Pictured above – Shigay (left) Pride of Ceylon (right)
We tried Shigay (Rs. 1200) – the signature cocktail of Shinagawa Beach hotel, which was a brilliant drink concoction of Sky vodka, dry sake wine, ginger beer, fresh ginger, curry leaves and Monin cinnamon syrup. It was spicy, but weirdly delicious, and definitely one of the most Sri Lankan cocktails I've come across.
Initially, it feels like your tastebuds are being whacked by a load of spices, but after a while you get used to it, and learn to love it. While the punch that came from the ginger was very refreshing, the sweetness of the cinnamon syrup balanced out the flavors perfectly.
The Pride of Ceylon is more of a fruity cocktail, involving fresh pomello, fresh pomegranate, peach liquer and a generous amount of Sky vodka. This one has awarded with bronze medal at Culinary Art held by Chefs' Guild, Sri Lanka.
Same as Taprobana and The Habitat, the service at Shinagawa Beach was remarkable. The staff was friendly, extremely helpful, efficient and inviting. With lots of genuine smiles and care, they made for a delightful stay.
With great service, beautifully appointed rooms, sheer beauty of the down south, and even better food, Shinagawa Beach by Asia Leisure has a lot to offer. It's a wonderful resort that caters equally to everyone – from family outings to romantic getaways. We can't recommend them enough.