Secreted in the capital’s most elite environs, Paradise Road Tintagel Colombo is a political-abode-turned-boutique-hotel, which was revamped a few years back by style-meister Shanth Fernando of decor dynasty Paradise Road. Lavishing 10 individually designed suites, a pair of restaurants, a sultry bar and a lap pool on its solace-seeking guests, this centrally located hotspot is the city’s sexiest retreat.
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A beach bag and a scented candle from Paradise Road
Noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 2pm.
Double rooms from £105.89 ($145), including tax at 11.1 per cent.
Rates include breakfast.
More than 500 custom-bound books are stacked in the library, and there’s a computer for guests to use. For pampering sessions, make for the massage room.
At the hotel
Free WiFi throughout, massage room, gym, steam room, library and private dining room. In rooms: flatscreen TV, DVD/CD player, minibar and Spa Ceylon Ayurveda for Paradise Road toiletries.
Our favourite rooms
For their edible colour schemes, cushy comforts and individuality, quite frankly, we love them all. Superior Suites have private plunge pools, leafy terraces and cushion-festooned sofas that rouse romance and make going out a chore. Executive Suites have balconies or terraces decked out with sunloungers and a dining table for moonlit meals.
The adults-only, unheated lap pool languishes in a high-walled courtyard in the heart of the house. Life-size torso sculptures mingle on a ledge above the lounger-topped, dark-timber deck that flanks the pool.
There's a small spa on-site with a steam room, gym and salon. There's a massage room too, or you can book an in-room appointment.
There are iPod docks in Superior Suites (in others they are available on request), so don’t forget to bring some tunes. Paradise Road is famed for its prized desserts, so sweet-tooths should pack loose-fitting garb.
Smoking is permitted in the Red Bar and outside areas only.
No charge for baby cots, and kids up to five can share senior Smiths' beds for free. Otherwise, extra beds for children cost US$31 a child a night, including breakfast. The chef is happy to tailor dishes to little ones' tastes too.
Tintagel welcomes all ages, but is best suited to babies or design-savvy teens.
All ages are welcome but Tintagel's sophisticated surroundings suit babies and budding fashionistas best. With few diversions, tiny tots and boisterous youngsters could easily get bored.
A door between the courtyards of the Executive East and North East Suites makes these rooms well suited for a family with older kids. Beds can be set up in Executive Suites (one) and Superior Suites (two) for US$31 a child a night, including breakfast.
The hotel can arrange transport for kids to go paddle-boating on Beira Lake, pat the resident tusker elephant at the Gangaramaya Temple or go kite-flying on the Galle Face Green.
Not particularly child-friendly – there’s no shallow end, so Junior Smiths need to be supervised at all times.
The Courtyard’s the most suitable spot for kids’ dining as indoors feels a tad too sophisticated for raucous tots. There are kids' menus and highchairs, and the staff can heat baby milk and rustle up packed lunches on request.
If it’s stifling, make for a table on the Courtyard’s veranda for the cooling ceiling fans, or sit in the air-con comfort of the Dining Room. Otherwise, dine in your suite or on your balcony or terrace – decorations can be arranged for added oomph.
Glam rags – this is the place to be seen.
There’s a brace of tasty options. Decked out with ebony parasols shading circular tables, the alfresco Courtyard is relaxed, casual and stunning when candlelit at night. The Dining Room is a seductive air-conditioned cube of black banquettes and trompe l’oeil design. Tintagel’s eclectic international menu is easily Colombo’s finest – look out for squid-ink risotto with calamari, or braised pork belly with crushed potatoes, soft-poached egg and pickled ginger mayonnaise.
The Red Bar is open from 7pm until 11pm, and the super staff can whip up cocktail concoctions at your whim. Low-lit and dusky, this opulent red and black space is the prime position for a naughty nightcap.
Breakfast is served from 6am to 11am, lunch from 11am to 4pm. The restaurant serves up nosh until 11pm; the Red Bar closes its doors around 11pm.
Available from 8am until 11pm, drawing on the full restaurant menu.
Situated in Cinnamon Gardens, Tintagel has an exclusive, private location in the heart of Colombo, within easy reach of shops, sights, restaurants and bars.
The nearest airport to Tintagel is Colombo’s Bandaranaike International Airport (www.airport.lk), 45 to 60 minutes' drive north of the city, depending on the traffic.
If approaching from Kandy, Bentota or Galle, you can get a train to Colombo Fort Station (www.railway.gov.lk).
Driving in Colombo can be somewhat hectic, due to overcrowding on the roads. However, if you choose to hire a car (there's an Avis booth at Bandaranaike International) you can reach the hotel via the Katanuyake Expressway. The drive will take around 30 minutes, and there's free valet parking when you arrive.
Hover-happy travellers heading to the hotel by helicopter from other island spots will land at the domestic Ratmalana Airport, 10km south of the city. From here, Deccan Aviation (www.simplifly.com) will run you into the city for free.
Worth getting out of bed for
The hotel can arrange a driver-guide for you to cruise the city’s sights by car. Hit the Gangaramayaand the Seema Malaka temples, the Fort, the National Museumand the ever-popular Galle Face Green. Or, if you’re tired of sightseeing why not play a relaxing round at the historic 130-year old Royal Colombo Golf Club, just a 10-minute nip up the road? Colombo is a surprisingly good shopping spot, so stock up on home-decor goodies from Paradise Road (Tintagel guests get 10 per cent off, and transfers from the hotel are free) or critique Colombo’s coolest contemporary art collection at the Saskia Fernando Gallery. Be inspired on a personal tour of famed architect Geoffrey Bawa’s former home, No. 11, a rambling series of other-worldly rooms, dashing courtyards and gasp-inducing views.
Tintagel's sister restaurant the Gallery Café is a courtyard-cool classic that’s handily located beside Paradise Road boutique. For a true taste of Jaffna cuisine (northern-style Sri Lankan), the best food can be found at Palmyrah Restaurant in the somewhat despondent Renuka Hotel. If seafood takes your fancy, head to The Lagoon in the Cinnamon Grand, where an array of seafood and fish awaits, to be sautéed or seared exactly the way you like it.
Paradise Road Café (213 Dharmapala Mawatha, Colombo 7; +94 (0)11 268 6043), is a quick five-minute tuk-tuk trundle down the road, where daytime sandwiches, quiches and cakes are served above another branch of the lifestyle store. A 10-minute walk from the hotel takes you to Odel, Sri Lanka’s premiere department store, and top Japanese nosh at Nihonbashi, a teensy daytime-only outlet of the flagship restaurant near the Galle Face Green.
If a pre-dinner drink is on the cards, hightail it to the chequerboard-floored Terraceof the historic Galle Face Hotel, where you can sip cocktails, slurp beer and drink in delicious sunsets over the sea. The blue-hued 7 Degrees North in the Cinnamon Lakeside hotel has a devoted following who sip mojitos and tuck into tapas on the dapper deck. To get your after-dinner groove on, head to Silk (41 1/2 Maitland Crescent, Colombo 7), a 10-minutes drive away. Or, mingle with the glammed-up young’uns at the modern, neon-lit Amuseum in the Galle Face Hotel.
Sitting in the front-row bus seats ‘reserved for clergy’, we bump along the coast road from Galle for four hours. This prime position is offered to tourists in the absence of travelling holy men, but we wonder who’d win a face-off if any Buddhist monks actually boarded the bus.
Dodging cars, taxis and bicycles in the thick of rush hour, a rickshaw whizzes us from the bus station to Paradise Road Tintagel Colombo, our boutique base in the evocatively named Cinnamon Gardens. As soon as our driver turns into the large driveway, the traffic noise subsides and our frazzled moods lift.
The one-time home of Sri Lankan prime minister Bandaranaike, who lived here until his assassination in the 1950s, and his widow, who became the world’s first female prime minister (go sister!), this is a hotel with serious history.
After being greeted with a fruity cocktail, we nose around the foyer while the staff sign us in, spying a grand piano that conjures images of an old colonel playing Sondheim, a small library of dark-wood panelling and battered leather chairs, and a lap pool that twinkles invitingly in the courtyard. If I’d been travelling with a Mr Smith instead of a gal pal, this setting would’ve been seriously romantic…
A sweeping, creaky staircase leads to our palatial Superior Suite, with a four-poster bed, sitting room and a sunny terrace. We linger for a moment, then head downstairs to jump into the refreshing pool before returning to our room to order a sundowner. Feeling like royalty, we sit on the terrace as the sun disappears, sipping ice-cold beer and snacking on nuts.
Forgoing the air-conditioned cool of the restaurant, we opt for a balmy dinner on the courtyard veranda. After two weeks of eating mostly local dishes, we succumb to our cravings for western fare. The food is delicious: walnut, feta and mushroom salad, and grilled prawns with avocado to start, followed by pan-fried snapper, and fettuccine with lobster and crab.
Clearly we’re not the only ones who think we’re onto a good thing… the restaurant’s a favourite among the well-heeled of Colombo, which makes for great people-watching as we finish off a bottle of surprisingly good chilled house white.
The next morning we’re keen to explore. Sri Lanka’s coast, where we’ve spent all our holiday, is utterly beautiful but there’s not much in the way of shopping. We more than make up for it today, setting off on foot for Paradise Road, an interiors store run by Shanth Fernando, the design guru behind the hotel. Beautiful homewares abound, but we zero in on sarongs, napkins, scented candles and Buddha statues in every size.
Laden with vibrant finds, we join the locals in a walk around neighbouring park Viharamahadevi (Colombo’s largest), before hailing a rickshaw to the vast Buddhist Gangaramaya Temple, a short ride away. You can overdo the temple touring in Sri Lanka, but this one is worth it, thanks to its serene vibe, stunning colours, unexpected collection of lovingly tended colonial-era cars and, best of all, a baby elephant.
Next stop is Galle Road, Colombo’s main drag, where we lunch at an elegant courtyard restaurant called Green Cabin, serving dirt-cheap but delicious Sri Lankan food. It specialises in mango curry and hoppers, a local delicacy that resembles a spongy rice pancake. After lunch, the lure of sumptuous fabric boutique, Barefoot, across the road proves too strong, and I pop over to buy table runners and yet more napkins that I’ll probably never use.
A short stroll away is the famed Galle Face Green, a soothing expanse of lawn on the seafront known for sunset promenading and impromptu cricket matches. Heading back towards the hotel on foot, we stop at two must-visit places: the Cricket Club Café, a bar/restaurant in a colonial building brimming with sports memorabilia; and the Gallery Café, a cool, elegant place that serves amazing cocktails and western-style bites, also from the Paradise Road team.
Fizzing from our drinks, we visit another Paradise Road store next door, and after buying a few irresistible nick-nacks, return to the hotel with our bags bulging – and enough loot to start our own boutiques back home.
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