Hilton Colombo {LKA}

Old Jul 23, 05, 8:48 am
  #1  
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Arrow Hilton Colombo {LKA}

I had two stays at the Colombo Hilton this week, on my first and last nights in Sri Lanka.

Arrival at CMB
You first enter a duty free hall where TVs, refrigerators and the like are sold. Don't bother getting a cart; you have an escalator ahead.

Both immigrations and customs were very quick, and the Sri Lankans very gracious. Just beyond customs, you enter a room lined with banks. The rates seemed comparable, just under 100 rupees for $1. You get a slightly better rate for travelers checks than for cash. I had bills that had been refused in Bali as "suspect"; they were taken with no problem here. (I had picked them up at the bank just prior to travel; Bali is exceptionally fussy and likes pristine new bills.)

You then leave the customs area, and find people holding signs for any who have prearranged pickups. I did not, as Hilton had given me a price of $38. The Hilton email address is [email protected]. Instead, I went to the Hilton desk, where I was given a price of $16. I think that the first price is for a nicer Hilton car that comes from the hotel, whereas the lower price is for a car that they arrange at the airport. Regardless, it was certainly fine, clean, with good air conditioning. Also, they put the price on the hotel bill. It takes about 1 hour to drive to the hotel.

Hotel
The hotel is a modern high rise with 19 or so floors. There is a desk opposite the check in counter with Hhonors members check in. You are given a welcome drink, fresh lime juice for me.

I was given a suite on both stays. The first time, I had 901 - a spacious one bedroom suite with a door between the living room and bedroom. The decor is 70s; clean and tidy, with cream painted furniture. The mattress could stand to be replaced. There was no amenity in the room; there were two small bottles of water that everyone in the hotel receives. My room overlooked a small inlet of water and a commercial area of Colombo.

On my return, I was given room 925, a suite overlooking the sea. This was equally as comfortable, but there was no door between the bedroom and living room. If you are traveling with a partner and one is likely to be up at odd hours due to jet lag, 901 would be preferable.

Executive Lounge
The lounge was underwhelming. It is on the 16th floor, and appears to be the end two bedrooms that have been made into a lounge. The hallway bisects the two rooms.

Breakfast was a small sampling of the usual offerings; nothing at all remarkable. Tea and coffee is served throughout the day, but not soft drinks. Cakes are served in the afternoon. Softdrinks and booze are served from 6-8pm, but I didn't make it there to see what food offerings were available.

Services
The business center is open 7/24. Internet is expensive, at $1.80 plus tax for 10 minutes. I did not check the price of internet in my room.

The hotel is large, and a social hub for Colombo. There is a bakery in the lobby, a cigar bar, a shop for buying tea, a card shop, and a jewelry shop. There are a number of restaurants, including one outdoors that specializes in local food. There is a swimming pool, you cross a small bridge to get to it.

Awards
I booked an award stay, thinking that 10K points was better value than spending $100. You need to have a printed copy of the award, as they tell me the Singapore offices require it.

Overall impression
This is a good hotel, very good value, and an excellent start and end to a Sri Lankan holiday. Staff is very cordial, as are Sri Lankans in general.
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Old Jul 23, 05, 8:57 am
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Shopping in Colombo

I came with a list of stores that had been recommended. My favorite was

Paradise Road - (Dharmapala Mawatha Street)- near the Town Hall, is a chic Asian Conran of antiques and fine crafts designed on the island.

Barefoot (704 Galle Road) – brilliantly hued textiles and clothes made exclusively for the company, as well as a café and beautiful Zen garden.

Many recommend Odells; it is worth the stop but IMO is more for the expat on the island. It has lots of international brands, and several seemed to me to be imported with import prices rather than locally made. I don't keep track of Birkenstock prices, but the sandals they had were about $65. It is like a mini-mall within one store, with a cafe, chocolate shop, tea shop, clothes, crafts, books, and more.

The Hilton gave me a price of a car and driver for 4 hours for $22. This seemed fair enough, but I had a driver from an excursion I had taken elsewhere on the island. All of the stores that appeal to tourists are within a relatively small range, although not within walking distance of each other.
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Old Jul 23, 05, 8:59 am
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Thanks for the report(s), :-: SanDiego1K!

Does the property offer the choice of Exec Lounge or buffet / resto brekkies?
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Old Jul 23, 05, 9:07 am
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Originally Posted by JDiver
Does the property offer the choice of Exec Lounge or buffet / resto brekkies?
I don't know, but it is worth asking. On my second stay, I checked in at 3pm and out at 11pm as I had a 3am flight. Otherwise, I would have checked.

btw, the tea is delicious here.
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Old Jul 23, 05, 9:24 am
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Pretty comprehensive report ^ - didn't see this before, but having just completed a stay at the Hilton Colombo Residence and currently sitting in the Hilton Colombo, here's what I have to add:

Arrival at CMB
The duty free hall with TVs, refridgerators and all was mildly amusing. Immigration and customs was a breeze, and everyone from the immigrations, customs and money changers were genuinely friendly and helpful to first time visitors. Didn't see a Hilton desk (although there were desks for the Taj and the Holiday Inn), but there are plenty of taxi operators - I stopped by the Budget desk and got an airconditioned van to take me to the Hilton Colombo Residence for $14. Took just over 30 min at 1am.

Hilton Colombo Residence
They had all my info when I walked in - just had to give them my last name. They took my passport to photocopy it (I know this bothers some people in Asian hotels, but I'm indifferent to it). I had booked the Amex 10% off fully flexible rate for a 2 bedroom suite (the lowest category, $81) and was told at checkin that as a HH Gold I was upgraded to a higher floor (25). The suite was huge and had a 29inch TV with the Indian versions of Star Movies, HBO, Cinemax, CNN, BBC, CNBC, ESPN, Star Sports, MTV, VH1 etc., a very breezy balcony overlooking the lake. Welcome gift was a bowl of fruit and a bottle of Bordeaux. Very friendly staff. Didn't check for internet access. The location is excellent for people wanting to go down to the SQ ticketing office for the cheap fares - its just over a 5min walk away.

There is a free shuttle van from the Hilton Colombo Residence to the Hilton Colombo at 12.30pm, 6pm and 7pm.

Hilton Colombo
What SanDiego1K said above. They had all my details when I walked in. As a Gold, I was told that I had been pre-assigned an Executive level room on the 16th floor where the lounge is, and was brought up to check in at the desk on the 16th floor. Bed is comfy, TV is tiny (21inch I think, but I didn't watch much of it). Box of chocolates and a bowl of fruits in the room.

Didn't have breakfast, but the evening cocktails and hot snacks are decent. The lounge does seem to have been converted from 2 bedrooms - one is a smoking section. Fast wired broadband internet in the room at $3/5/9/20 for 1/2/4/24 hours respectively. No wireless signal. Paid $85 for the Amex 10% off rate because I needed to top up points for an award and I was hitting a 15k bonus as well, but this is excellent value for a 10k points reward stay.
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Old Jul 23, 05, 9:28 am
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Breakfast

Originally Posted by JDiver
Thanks for the report(s), :-: SanDiego1K!

Does the property offer the choice of Exec Lounge or buffet / resto brekkies?
When we there in February, as gold, we took breakfast in the ground floor resturaunt. We were spoilt for choices. There was an egg station and one that made "hoppers" the local breakfast staple.
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Old Jul 23, 05, 9:33 am
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You also get free entrance and a free drink at the Lava Karaoke lounge and the Blue Elephant downstairs, which is supposed to be one of the better nightclubs in Colombo, but its currently closed due to some government regulation.
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Old Aug 13, 05, 1:32 am
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Thanks SanDiego1K and Savage25 for the great report. ^ I am wondering how you deal with checkout time as most flights depart after midnight? Were you able to get a late checkout, or did you book an additional night?
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Old Aug 13, 05, 4:24 am
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Just a heads-up to those traveling to Sri Lanka...

COLOMBO (Reuters) - Sri Lanka declared a state of emergency on Saturday after Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar was shot and killed in the garden of his home by a suspected sniper, an attack police blamed on Tamil Tiger rebels.
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Old Aug 13, 05, 8:12 am
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TerryK, I booked a hotel room for my last night in Colombo, even though I only used the room til 11pm. I checked in about 4pm, and left at 11pm - but at just 10K Hilton points, it was worth it to me to have a bed for a few hours and a shower.

transpac, the news is troubling out of Sri Lanka. Perahera is August 19th in Kandy, the biggest event of the year in the country, and one that draws foreign tourists. We will be there. Today's news accounts do cause me some concern. I am glad that the foreign minister's cremation is Monday, before we arrive.
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Old Aug 21, 05, 5:08 am
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Benefits are gutted as of 8/20/2005

I am sorry to report that as of yesterday, August 20, 2005, the front desk manager has gutted the benefits given to Hilton members. We no longer get either:
  • Evening appetizers and drinks in the Executive Lounge
  • Morning breakfast

It's such a shame, as just last week we were given the right to take our breakfast in the dining room, rather than the lounge. I planned to post about how amazing it was, with a broader range of food than I have had at almost any hotel throughout the world. Today we checked in, and were told that none of this is available to us. We are allowed to sit in the lounge and have tea after breakfast and before evening appetizers. Believe me, that is no pleasure! The lounge is no more than two bedrooms across the hall from each other with the beds moved out and chairs and tables moved in.

I was displeased, needless to say, and asked as to the whys and wherefores. I was given the name of the front desk manager who made the decision. The claim is that the property has always been allowed to charge for these services, but only made the decision to do so as of yesterday.

On a positive note, I've had my fourth suite upgrade in four stays.
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Old Aug 24, 05, 4:39 am
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Question "Printed copy of the award"

Originally Posted by SanDiego1K
Awards
I booked an award stay, thinking that 10K points was better value than spending $100. You need to have a printed copy of the award, as they tell me the Singapore offices require it.
When redeeming a 10K award at the NRT Hilton, I just made the reservation online, and that was it. I always keep a screen-shot of that reservation as a back-up, in case their computers are down, or they lose the reservation or something.

Is this what you mean by a "printed copy of the award"?
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Old Aug 24, 05, 4:33 pm
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Originally Posted by SPN Lifer
When redeeming a 10K award at the NRT Hilton, I just made the reservation online, and that was it. I always keep a screen-shot of that reservation as a back-up, in case their computers are down, or they lose the reservation or something.

Is this what you mean by a "printed copy of the award"?
I had an award certificate issued separately from the reservation, and had to give them a hard copy of that. If the award is issued as part of the reservation, the award number is on the reservation and they require a hard copy of that. In the past it was sufficient for them to have the number of the award cert, but now they want a copy from the guest.
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Old Dec 16, 05, 6:34 am
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Just reviewing this thread for possible stay later - after reading about the "gutting" of hhonors benefits decided NOT to even attempt to stay there.

I don't understand how a hotel can "just" decide that hilton terms can be changed by them - whoever heard of "limited" lounge access
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Old Dec 16, 05, 9:52 am
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Originally Posted by estnet
I don't understand how a hotel can "just" decide that hilton terms can be changed by them - whoever heard of "limited" lounge access
Lounge access is not a specific published benefit for Golds or Diamonds outside of the US, so I don't see how this applies.

Mike
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