Decor at the Cinnamon Grand
As a festive offering YAMU is taking a look at the city's five star staples and their Xmas decorations.
For starters here are the two big ones; The Echelon Square heavy weight and the Kurundu Mandira.
Here's another classic quirky Colombo Christmas tradition – the family hotel lobby visit to ogle decorations and meet santa in a more sanitized grotto than the back of Cargills.
From the city's tropical streets you'd walk into well air-conditioned lobbies doing their best to imitate a northern Christmas. Counters packed with ginger bread, yule logs and pralines, captive choirs belting out carols, steaming mugs of mulled wine and stars, silver bells and stylized snow on everything.
Now a tropical island's idea of a western Christmas might sound like an unfortunate exercise in kitsch but at their best these lobbies were warm and homely. Full of people you knew and packed with everything you'd ever want to eat. Growing up in the midst of a 30 year war this is where you went in order to not see armed men and barbed wire and where every thing seemed like anywhere else, sort of.
While nowadays there's much more available outside the staple 5 star hotels a quick whirl through the hotel lobbies of Colpetty and Fort remains an excellent and, not necessarily expensive, way to get into the festive spirit. Particularly good for anyone with young children but you don't have to be five to be entertained by lots of sparkly lights and bits of yule log.
The most popular of Colombo's 5 star hotels has never been my favorite Xmas spot. The new lobby, which veers towards the toiletesque, doesn't enjoy the natural beauty of the Galle Face Hotel's terrace or the charm of Hilton's duck-view lounge. It compensates somewhat by virtue of its sheer popularity- it's always buzzing.
I never remember the Christmas decorations here really standing out but this year they've done a good job. There's a silver, gold and soft pink color scheme, mounds of oversized baubles piled artfully on the floor and some quite delicate and attractive trees.
It's a deviation from the standard green and red xmas grotto and it works. There something faintly Venetian carnival about it. The coffee stop has the usual – Xmas offerings… breudher, x mas cake etc and there's a trolley dishing out mulled wine. Sufficiently Christmassy without being over the top, we recommend.
Xmas Decos- 7.5 /10
This has always been a firm Xmas favourite. Their decorations were always that much more spectacular. The towering bauble festooned tree at the entrance, the amazing clockwork Santa's workshop with little mechanical elves hammering away at toys.
What really lifted the place into Colombo-Xmas stratosphere though was the life-size edible gingerbread house. For years they had this truly fantastic sweet counter shaped made of gingerbread and light sugar frosting and anyone visiting the lobby was welcome to nibble. Well nibble within reason. I once chewed off a fair portion of the roof and the management had to have words with my parents.
This year though the gingerbread house is gone! as are the mechanical elves. While I was initially horrified and keen to urge fellow Colombars to rise up in protest I have to admit the new decorations aren't bad. There are lots and lots of trees though things are a little too white (weddingy). They've replaced the edible house with an impressive chocolate fountain in which you can dip your – washed – fingers.
The chocolate isn't as good as the gingerbread was… but I'm sure the younglings of today will be equally impressed.
Decor 8 out of 10
Service (in the Thorana lounge) 3/10. Things have descended to Galle Face Hotel terrace levels; getting their attention is misery.