Hangover Hostels has made a bit of a name for itself down in Mirissa, but their Signature Colombo branch is relatively new. We swung by for a mid-day staycation to pretend we were tourists in our own city - and it was actually rather fun.
I snooped around on TripAdvisor and Booking.com to see what people liked/disliked about the place, and was surprised to see a few tourists unhappy with the location. To me, Bambalapitiya is very much within the heart of Colombo, and a mere hop, skip, and Rs. 200 ($1.3) tuk tuk jump away from pretty much all the main sites in the city. Hangover Colombo is down Kinross Avenue (right near OneUp and Taste of Asia), which means you can walk down to the Cargills, or Chillax, or OZO or Kinross Swimming Club (your hostel key gives you access to their pool and premises for a cheap Rs.200).
As a hostel, of course, the dorms are the main forms of accommodation. You get mixed dorms or all-female dorms, at about 9 to a room. Nice, large functioning lockers, and clean school-style bathrooms stalls await you at $10 a bed. We opted for a private ensuite room (because we're fancy like that, obviously), at about $20 a head double sharing (which ends up at Rs.5600 for two people). This is super economical if you're alone (who wouldn't spend $20 for a room to themselves?), but could rack up if you're a couple staying for a while.
The room was spacious enough, with clean lines and minimalist contrast decor. A comfy bed, well-functioning A/C and blinds, and concrete-finish bathrooms made for a comfortable stay.
The Wi-Fi was fast, the shower was warm, and the key-card system simple. Easy living. Our only issue? The ground floor room faced the lobby, and there was loud (albeit good) music seeping in until about 10 PM.
Hangover appears to be located in a lovely old residence, with a cute garden with fairy lights and al fresco seating (perfect for an early evening beer you can pick up from the supermarket). There's a lot of uniform white going on, which is nice, supported by a few funky vintage Ceylon Tourism posters and lots of funky paraphernalia.
We particularly enjoyed the sense of community the place tried to cultivate, with a shared kitchen and box for shared goods (like if you buy a box of pasta but leave without finishing it, you can leave it in the kitchen for someone to use after you), and also a "take one, leave one" table filled with random oddities like sunscreen or books.
We do feel like there could have been a cosier communal area with mats and couches etc though, as the upstairs TV area was kind of bare.
There isn't much service involved in a hostel, but we appreciated what we did experience. We were checked in within a matter of minutes by a friendly guy who was very happy to show us about, and give us tips on exploring Colombo (I was deep into my tourist character at this point). He explained to us the nearby bars, supermarkets, and activities (swimming, yoga, etc), and gave us accurate tips on what to do. As a general rule, you clean up after yourself, cook for yourself, and try and be respectful of other guests. Not too difficult.
Low prices, lots of cleanliness and comfort, and friendly service. Hangover Hostels in Colombo could do with a little bit more character, and may not be as funky as its Mirissa counterpart, but it's real value for money and we'd strongly recommend it to tourists.
We also just found out about this bicycle initiative - very cool!