I have stayed here a few times through the years and latest for a week eight years ago in the beginning of 2005 without any reservation in advance. And in Feb. 2013, I just went for a cup of tea.
If you are looking for a cheap and conveniently situated hotel in Colombo just a short distance to Fort, the Railway Station and the Galle Road and if you don't care about luxury then the old Nippon Hotel on Slave Island is one of a few possible choices. Unfortunately Sri-Lankan hotel room rates are generally high and absurd and in paticular the prices of Colombo's accomodation.
However, since Nippon is a budget hotel charging about SLR 3600,- per night for a double room on the first floor with A/C and an attached toilet with shower, don't ex-pect any high standard. If you still have that, you will get disappointed. Be prepared and ready to get a filthy, dusty and dark room with problems like e.g. a broken door handle or a bad working pad lock, a noisy A/C with reduced effect, a bad smell of cigarettes, limited room service and a few cockroaches in the toilet. My room was large and furnished with a comfortable double bed, a few wicker chairs and a table with a mirror on a floor of wood. A couple of windows were closed and covered by large and heavy curtains. So, it was almost always necessary to turn on the light even around lunch time.
Beside a few other minor problems, I had a good sleep and valued highly the locali-ty of this place regarding the many eating places in the neighbourhood as well as the hectic street life in the evenings.
The reception staff was friendly and helpful and the communicatioin was easy. When I left, they provided a taxi to the Airport.
The restaurant on the ground floor had reasonable prices, a few dishes and menus available and the service was OK, but nothing special to write about. Try instead the many attractive alternatives outside and close by.
On most days from late afternoon, the bar in the right side of the building was crowded by noisy local men who were very open for a chat. Many of them enjoyed the local arrack and a few snacks, but there were no women.
In Sri-Lanka where the local hotel sector just after the war unfairly increased their prices, it is nice to know that the Nippon Hotel still is going on as a budget hotel. However, it needs to be maintained properly and regularly. It slowly becomes dilapidated.
Years ago, I remember a warning written by another guest on one of the walls in the room about how a rat had entered the room through a particular hole in one of the windows. Even Nippon is a budget hotel, the hygienic standard could be better. I don't know if it has improved, but be aware about how the windows are protected with e.g. an insect net.
Acccording to an article from July this year in the Sri-Lankan paper the "Daily News", the main competitors of Sri-Lanka are Thailand and Malaysia which offer better hotel room rates and if this continues, tourists visiting Sri-Lanka would have second thoughts to visit this country.
Acccording to the article the Investment Promotion Minister in Sri-Lanka has said that room rates being marketed for over US Dollar 600,- in the East coast was absurd and if the hotel sector reduced their rates there would definitely be more tourists visiting Sri-Lanka. The govenment are helpless as they do not hope to bring in a "maximum room rate rule".
So, under these circumstances I might choose to stay in the Nippon Hotel again for a night or two, but won't recommend it to others.
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