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The Castle Hotel

Masjidul Jamiah Road, Colombo 2

  • This place has closed down

The Castle Hotel is the finest of dodgy bars.

We're happy to say that our favorite dodgy bar, the Castle Hotel, is no longer being shut down, at least not in the foreseeable future. With the change in government, something has changed and demolishing the historic but crumbling building is no longer on the cards. Now, why is the Castle Hotel our favorite dodgy bar?

The Location

Colombo is full of working class bars that serve cheap beer and arrack. None of them, however, has the architecture of the Castle Hotel. This 200 year old building is solid, symmetrical and - to us at least - a treasure. The land right next to it has been razed to the ground to make way for a TATA development, but this old and working hotel remains. As a note, even though there are rooms for rent upstairs, we do not recommend them

The Castle Hotel is also quite central, right near the Slave Island railway station. You can have a drink here and walk up to Burger's King for a bite, or even down to the posh restaurants and nightclubs near the Galle Face Roundabout.

The interior is crumbly and not insanely clean, but it is picturesque, in a post-apocalyptic sort of way. There's usually a cat prowling around (pregnant last I saw) and they used to have a craps game in the foyer. Sometimes you can get roast garlic and wade from a food cart outside.

There are two rooms inside. They usually shunt tourists and groups with women to the right side, the 'nicer' room, but both are fine. It can get a bit noisy with people banging on the tables and singing, but everyone is generally quite friendly.

The Food/Drink

While there is local gin and brandy and the like on the menu, this is really a beer and arrack sort of place. The prices are basically as low as they can possibly get, we never check the bill here or a menu. Four people can easily drink for Rs. 900.

They also have good bar bites, like the chili fries. They also do nice deviled meats, thought note that the chicken can get a bit bony. Also fried fish, which the cat really likes.


Ask for Solomon. He's at right in this photograph, a bit out of focus. He's a great guy and very helpful. He's not making cocktails or anything, but he knows everyone and brings the food and drinks out quick enough, and he's always smiling.

In many ways we find the service at this type of bar better than at posher places.

Note that while there aren't usually many women here, they actually get a fair amount of tourists sometimes and women are safe here. It's still probably more comfortable to go with a guy or two.


The Castle Hotel is our favorite dodgy bar, a great place to have a cheap drink in a historic building while listening to drunken baila. For a long time we had to qualify our reviews by saying 'go there soon, it'll be demolished', but it seems like that plan has been delayed. Here's hoping this 200 year old spot will make it through another century.


Ask for Solomon. The french fries with chili are good.


Masjidul Jamiah Road, Colombo 2


From Galle Face Roundabout, go up Macan Markar Mw, over the canal and turn left immediately after the rail tracks. From Colombo 7, head down Union Place, go straight at the junction and turn right before the trail tracks.

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This place has closed down

Price Range

Between Rs. 500 - Rs. 1000

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