Perched on top of the swanky new OZO Colombo is the equally swanky ON14 Rooftop Lounge & Bar. Pool bar by day and lounge bar by night, ON14 is the latest addition to the city’s line of rooftop drinking spots and now, also the highest.
When you’re 14 floors above Marine Drive, expect nothing less than a spectacular view of Colombo by day or by night.
Ambience and Location
Think Sky Lounge with a lot more space - enough to house a pool. OZO is one of those few places that have taken advantage of Marine Drive’s prime location by the sea. The view is the main attraction here. You’ve got a fantastic panorama over the Indian Ocean straight ahead, along with Mount Lavinia on one end and the Port and Fort on the other.
Unfortunately, the daylight view is restricted to in-house guests only. The same goes for Splash – the rooftop infinity pool. At 5PM, the pool closes and the lounge bar opens to the public, so you can get a pretty good view of the sunset if you’re there early enough.
ON14 is open from 11 AM to 1-3 AM (depending). The pool isn't open for outside guests but the bar and view are.
When you step out of the elevator, you’ll notice that there are two sides to the space. On one side, the large oval-shaped bar has a fascinating chandelier that changes color every few seconds. On the other, there’s a bunch of elegant seats under good lighting that look out towards Mount Lavinia. The DJ booth is also housed here and seems rather isolated. Plus on the night we visited, the music was questionable. It didn’t match the ambience of the place at all. The DJ didn’t seem to stick to one genre of music and at times, the music made the place sound more like a haphazard club rather than a chilled out lounge bar.
Outside, you’ve got a combination of standard bar tables and chairs along with some basket-shaped loungers by the pool which you can kick back on. The rooftop is fenced by glass all around and there are a bunch of illuminated blue spheres on the deck that look pretty cool in the night.
There’s also a separate VIP section behind closed doors upstairs that can hold about 30 people who pretty much have a private balcony and bar on top of the city.
Food & Drink
ON14 only opens to the public after 5 PM and dinner is served between 7 PM and 11 PM. Sitting outside is recommended if you really want to make the most of the location. But it gets pretty dark, so it’s a little difficult to see what you’re eating most of the time.
The menu isn’t extensive, but it’ll do. The limited assortment of bites is a bit of a downer, especially if you’re not thinking of a proper meal. At Rs. 550, you have a choice between tomato crostini and a selection of marinated olives, sun-dried tomatoes and artichoke hearts. Not so bad if you’re keeping things simple with a glass of wine, but you miss out on that savoury kick if that’s what you’re after. That’s where the sharing platters come in. Although mostly more expensive, they almost make up for the lack of easy bites. The golden-fried jalapeno cheese balls (Rs. 650) looked interesting and they’ve also got some Sri Lankan dishes for Rs. 450, namely the nelumalabaduma
(batter-fried lotus roots) and the chili and onion wellawahum
(local pancake stuffed with dried baby shrimps and tamarind sauce).
Salads are available for Rs. 650 upwards, along with some burgers (Rs. 750), a chicken tikka wrap (Rs. 850) and a range of 4 pizzas. The margherita (Rs. 700) and seafood tandoori (Rs. 950) are predictable, but then comes the original Pizza Colombo (Rs. 950) with a light curry sauce, devilled chicken, curry leaves and mozzarella and the Chef’s Recommendation – Flammkuchen (direct translation – flame cake) with fresh cream, onion, bacon and thyme at Rs. 850. Quick history lesson – Flammkuchenoriginates from the Alsace region in France which experienced its fair share of German invasions over time. Somewhere down the line, Flammekuecheas it is known in its native Alsatian ortarte flambéein French and Flammkuchenin German came about as their version of Italy’s pizza.Back at ON14, desserts are simple and straightforward – chocolate mousse and crème brûlée for Rs. 550, the cake of the day for Rs. 350 and ice crème (as they put it) for Rs. 450.
On the liquid side of things, everything’s pretty standard in terms of range and presentation. Just be aware of the upscale prices though. Unless you’re drinking a neat 25ml, expect to pay close to Rs. 1000 after taxes depending on your poison of choice. To give you a general idea, a single shot of Bacardi White goes for Rs. 500 while the JW Black Label, Absolut, Bombay Sapphire and Hennessy VS goes for Rs. 550. There’s a goodchoice of premium spirits if you’re spending a little more. A glass of house wine is a little expensive at Rs. 700 regardless of whether it’s red, white or rosé. You’ve got a fair variety local and foreign beer too, where a tall glass of draught Lion goes for a steep Rs. 350. And of course, if you’re the designated chauffeur for the night, a soft drink will set you back at least Rs. 200.
We didn’t try the cocktails so we can’t judge their taste or presentation. What we can tell you is that they’ve got a small selection starting at Rs. 800 and the bartenders were trained by a bar consultancy firm out of the UK. They brought down a bartender before the launch to concoct some drinks with a Sri Lankan twist, including the Tuk-Tuk (Rs. 1200) which seems to be the local take on the classic Sidecar with a mix of brandy, orange liqueur, lemon juice and a touch of cinnamon.
They’ve also got some cool glassware for certain drinks. Our Sprite was served in a tall, distorted glass that looked like you were drinking out of an optical illusion.
The staff here is both friendly and attentive. When they bring you the menu, they carry those nifty reading lights that you can clip onto the book. You know they keep a tab on you because they kindly ask if you want a top-up on your drink just before it finishes. They also seem be quite well-informed, easily striking up conversations with their patrons, sharing their views on OZO’s entry into Sri Lanka and what ON14 brings to the table.
ON14 is a great place to have a drink. It’s pretty chic but a bit of a detour from Colombo’s general nightlife circuit, so best you start, end or spend your night here. It scored fairly well on our Date Night Index
too, sitting quietly at the bottom of the Dater’s Dozen. You’ll be fine if you’re looking for a place to impress. Just make sure your wallet can too. You’re pretty much paying for the location more than anything else.
Head over to ON14 early to enjoy an unhindered view of the sunset over the Indian Ocean.