Travelling around Colombo has never been better. In fact, there are many places that are excellent when it comes to catering to various indulgences. Gone were the days when there were a lack of places to go to in Colombo. Having lived at the heart of Colombo for 30-odd years, the landscape has certainly changed a lot.
The 80s, 90s and right up to 2009, were periods that were resplendent with strikes, bombings and political upheavals. After the war, many hotels, restaurants, spas, hangouts and a myriad of other leisure-oriented spots have being mushrooming everywhere. While some of my favorite places have been around for decades, some are quite new.
Here are some of my favorite places to visit when I crave some food, drink and indulgent pampering.
1. The Gallery Cafe: I swear this is one place I cannot live without. The food and ambiance is exemplary. I’ve had the privilege of tasting at least 3/4 of the menu and none of it disappoints. One must add that there are some new and incredible additions to the menu, which certainly needs some sampling. My personal favorites are the Kalu Pol Pork Curry and that sublime dessert – the Chocolate Nemesis.
2. The Cricket Club Cafe: This place holds some fond memories for me. I’ve spent many Saturdays visiting the British Council and borrowing a few books and spending some insouciant times at this lovely pub, reading and sipping a few beers. The prices have increased, which is why I don’t visit as often as I used to. But besides being a must for all cricket aficionados, the cafe does offer a splendid plate of Mexican Nachos resplendent with salsa, cheese, sour cream and guacamole.
3. Foot Rub: Located at both Odel’s flagship store and at Crescat Boulevard, this definitely is a place to visit, if you and your feet are craving some serious pampering. You are guaranteed to fall asleep.
4. Spa Ceylon: The benefits of a proper Swedish Massage are two-fold. Besides soothing your muscles, which is highly recommended, if you are heavily into gym and sports, there is also the added benefit of your mind letting go off all life’s worries. Spa Ceylon is a haven for tired and stressed out souls. Besides offering a plethora of unique treatments, the products on offer are superlative, to say the least. I make it a point to visit this paradise, once a month, at least.
5. Siam House: I adore Thai food and this is one place that is authentic. The chicken in red curry is just an adventure to behold. While it is not exactly a place to hang out, it is certainly a place to overdose on a spread of Thai food that is inimitable and well worth the price tab.
6. Nature’s Secrets at Dutch Hospital: Gone are the days when facials were just for women. I make it a point to go get a Tamarind Facial at least once in two months from this excellent spa. The therapists are very well trained and the prices are very reasonable indeed. I must also say that the products, while looking a tad bit cheap, are of very good quality.
7. Chagall: Trust me. My hair is a complex nest of pure drama. Cut a bit too much from the back and what you got is a look that is reminiscent of a cockatoo. Cut a bit too much from the front and my hair looks like barbed wire. And then I went to Chagall. Why? Well, because every other salon just lost the war against taming my obsidian crown. I found the perfect salon now. It has made me look sexy. And I know this.
8. Cotton Collection: When searching for clothes in Colombo, one needs to be smart. The reason I go to Cotton Collection is because they offer better chances at picking something good compared to other retail outlets in Colombo.
9. Cinnamon Grand: I know this is rather weird but it is cheaper to wine and dine in one of Colombo’s finest hotels as opposed to some of Colombo’s top restaurants. Two of my favorites at Cinnamon Grand is Cheers Pub and The Lagoon. The Cheers Pub has, in fact, replaced The Cricket Club Cafe for me. I like the gloomy pub effect it has and the grub too. The prices are somewhat reasonable but the service is somewhat lacking. Still for all, it certainly is worth a visit.
10. Independence Square: I remember jogging around place during hours of the morning in pursuit of optimal fat loss. I still do walk or jog around ocassionally when I desire that incredible release of endorphins. The best time to walk at Independence Square is at 5 am since it is quiet, the air is clean and there are only a few people walking about.