To say that I was disappointed by the overall service at the Shangri-La in Colombo would be an understatement.
The hotel is absolutely stunning. Every lounge, restaurant, and room is decorated beautifully and I love the attention given to all the small little details (in my opinion, this hotel kills it when it comes to lighting… seriously).
But the service here is surprisingly awful for a hotel in the Shangri-La collection.
I mean Shangri-La is typically a luxury hotel brand. Some of its locations, I would even argue, are comparable to staying at a Four Seasons.
And yet, the service just wasn’t what I would expect from ANY luxury hotel. The staff aren’t very aware – either at the restaurants or in the lobby or pool areas, but especially at the restaurants.
*It’s important to note that I ate at Table One, Capital Bar & Grill, and Kaema Sutra with a group of 12 other people. I ate at Shang Palace, Kaema Sutra (on a separate occasion), and the Sapphyr Lounge with only one or two other people. I wanted to be very clear about this because I think the large group size may have significantly affected the overall dining experience.
I LOVE the overall look and feel of this place. It’s beautifully decorated and I almost wanted to steal one of the place settings I loved them so much (until I reminded myself that I don’t have a house to put it in… oh and stealing is wrong).
I also really liked how the chairs had really thick, fluffy cushions on them. I’ve noticed that really large chairs are becoming more of a thing at restaurants and for small people like me, it can be really annoying. Like I have to be so far forward in my chair just to eat that I don’t get to lean back and relax at all during the meal. So, the fact that Shang Palace added really thick cushions to their chairs so that small people like me could have something to rest their back on while they ate their food was something I personally super appreciated! Hey, it’s the little things right?
As far as the food, I’ve had better Chinese food, but I’ve also had worse. It really wasn’t anything special, but if you’re in the mood for Chinese it’ll hit the spot. I was disappointed by the fact that they didn’t have bao buns, which are my absolute favorite!
I thought that the restaurant was over-airconditioned. But the waitress was quick to bring me a scarf to wrap around my shoulders (it wasn’t hers, they were available to guests at the restaurant, so I can’t be the only person who thinks that this place is really freakin cold) and the service here was the best I’ve gotten at the whole of the Shangri-La hotel.
So, on a scale of 1 to 10, I’d probably give this place a 6 for having really great service, and decent (in my opinion) Chinese food.
Capital Bar and Grill
The food here was absolutely delicious! I came with a large group of friends and I have to say that not a single person ordered something and didn’t like it.
In fact, I got the best crème brulee at this restaurant than I’ve ever had in my entire life. And for anyone who knows me, you know that my FAVORITE dessert in probably the entire world is crème brulee. Here at the Capital Bar and Grill you can get a passion fruit crème brulee – and I’ve honestly never had anything like it. It’s so delicious that it’s one of those dishes that make you genuinely sad when you finish it and there’s no more to eat. I almost ordered a second one. If I hadn’t been full to bursting, I absolutely would have!
Unfortunately though, that’s where the praise for this restaurant stops. While I understand that it can take a while to make food for large groups, it took FOREVER for us to get our food. The reservation was for 8pm and we didn’t leave the restaurant until 11pm. I don’t even think we got our appetizers until 9pm – and most of them were cold appetizers!
But that really wasn’t the worst part, because when you’re with a group of friends – even if you’re starving – you can just talk the time away.
No, the worst part (and the reason this restaurant is going to get such an overall bad review from me) is that shortly after everyone finished their appetizers, I saw a freakin giant cockroach crawling on the wall next to two of my friends. I was so shocked and disgusted I couldn’t even speak, I just pointed right at it.
There is NOTHING worse than walking into a relatively clean establishment and seeing a cockroach near where you’re about to eat food.
And trust me, I’ve been to little hole-in-the-wall, objectively dirty and bug-ridden places to eat. That’s different. There you’re expecting it, so it doesn’t shock you and turn your stomach.
But coming to a place like this and seeing that. If I hadn’t been starving, I probably wouldn’t have been able to eat my main when it came out.
So, for the reasons listed above, and ESPECIALLY because there was a cockroach so near where we were sitting, I’d have to give this place a 3 out of 10. Bugs I can handle. If it had been a spider, that would have been a different story. But I cannot abide cockroaches whatsoever. Sorry not sorry.
Table One is the Shangri-La’s all-hours restaurant option. As with the rest of the Shangri-La, the decoration is beautiful. In fact, Table One is my favorite restaurant at the Shangri-La in Colombo for this reason. I love the giant slabs of exposed wood scattered throughout the restaurant and the rustic vibe that’s achieved by the copper details. Seriously, the entire restaurant feels more like a luxury kitchen than an actual restaurant. There’s a buffet option at the restaurant for breakfast, but after breakfast it becomes solely a la carte.
But other than the decoration, there’s nothing really good I can say about this restaurant.
The food is adequate, but I wouldn’t say I really enjoyed it. But the service was TERRIBLE. The worst in the entire hotel.
We had to ask for water several times before the waiter finally brought water to the table (guys I’m not exaggerating on this one, we didn’t get bottles of water until AFTER everyone had food… and it took a while for everyone to get their food!). The waiter also didn’t bring bread right away. And although he took our beverage orders fairly quickly, he got two of them mixed up and complete forgot about another’s.
The food took about an hour to get to the table (even though the majority of us had ordered either sandwiches or salads) and we didn’t get bread to the table until about 15 minutes before the food started arriving.
I had never realized until this experience just how much the quality of service at a restaurant can make or break your whole experience eating there.
I mean I’ve experienced bad service, but never THIS bad.
The only thing I could think the whole time was: “Holy fuck this is a restaurant at a Shangri-La hotel… and I’ve gotten better service at every Applebees and Olive Garden back home, and those are shitty restaurants.” Seriously though, I’ve never been to an Applebees or and Olive Garden where water wasn’t served IMMEDIATELY and bread or some kind of chips to snack on brought shortly after. I mean, it’s just basic dining etiquette.
So yeah, to say the least I was completely underwhelmed and downright annoyed with the dining experience at Table One.
Although I do concede that the food may have taken so long due to the size of the group, the number of people should have had no effect on how long it took for the waiter to bring water to the table or baskets of bread.
For these reasons, I give this restaurant a 4 out of 10. You may think that’s harsh, but just remember that we asked for water from the moment we sat down (and kept asking) and didn’t get it until AFTER the food was served. I mean, that is REALLY REALLY bad service… let’s just be honest.
Kaema Sutra is the Shangri-La’s Sri Lankan food restaurant. This restaurant has the option of indoor or outdoor seating (I prefer outdoor, because I hate air-conditioning and being cold). But it’s worth checking out the inside of the restaurant because the entire back wall is covered in traditional Sri Lankan masks in a variety of shapes and sizes. These masks aren’t only beautiful and extremely detailed, they also speak quite a bit to Sri Lanka’s history and its superstitious, tribal roots (surprisingly similar to that of Native American Indians and various African tribes).
If you’re looking for authentic, delicious Sri Lankan food… I don’t recommend coming here. I’ve had homemade Sri Lankann cuisine, and it’s much more flavorful and spicy that at this restaurant, which appears to be catering more toward Western palettes. Also, hoppers (large bowl-shaped pieces of very thin bread) are a must try in Sri Lanka, and the ones served here are some of my least favorite.
However, the food is decent – just not exceptional – and the service here wasn’t as mind-blowingly afwul as it was at Table One.
For that reason, I’d give this restaurant a 6 out of 10. The food is adequate and the service isn’t exceptionally awful. But the décor, as throughout the entire hotel, is truly beautiful.
The Sapphyr Lounge is located next to the reception area in the lobby of the hotel. It’s a great place to grab a drink or have some afternoon tea and a light snack. Surprisingly, the Sapphyr Lounge has the best vegetable bun of anywhere I’ve had in the entire city, and my friend (who is a native Sri Lankan) completely agreed with me.
The area is very bright and spacious. Since the walls surrounding the Sapphyr Lounge are almost entirely comprised of windows it is extremely well-lit during the day, and it has a very relaxing feel to it.
I’ve come here for both a quick drink before dinner as well as afternoon tea, and each time I enjoyed myself.
My only recommendations are: If you get cold easily like me, just don’t get a seat under and air-conditioning vent and DEFINITELY try the vegetable bun if you’re feeling hungry, you won’t regret it.
Since it isn’t an actual restaurant, I won’t give it a numeric rating (since the scales would be entirely different), but if you’re near the Shangri-La and looking for a place to enjoy a light snack and a drink or you’re staying at the hotel, be sure to check it out. It really is very nice. Hell, it’s worth it just to check out the GORGEOUS chandelier that hangs in the hotel lobby.
The room service at the Shangri-La is not what you would expect from a luxury hotel. When I stayed at the Shangri-La Suite (their presidential suite) they actually got my order WRONG. They sent me just pieces of bread instead of toast and completely forgot to bring my juice altogether. Plus, the food was already pretty cold. Really not what you would at all expect when staying at any hotel’s top-tier suite, but especially not at a Shangri-La.
I mean, don’t get me wrong. Room service is room service and most of the time it’s just nice to have food delivered right to your door.
But when you stay at certain places you have certain expectations, and the Shangri-La in Colombo just didn’t really live up to those expectations.
And actually, I thought the room service (both the speed and the quality of the food) was much better at Galle Face Hotel in Colombo just down the road from the Shangri-La.
So those are my thoughts on every dining option available at the Shangri-La in Colombo.
I do think it’s important to mention that this hotel is VERY new. It just opened its doors about two months ago, so I think that might be the reason why they have so many service quality issues – because they’re still technically training the staff. Hopefully they’ll be able to really improve their overall service in the future because it’ll make for a much more enjoyable experience for the guests who stay here.