Home away from home ~ The Margosa Residencies in Colombo, Sri Lanka

In a land far, far away, previously known as Ceylon, there lies the congested capital city of Colombo.

As beautiful as the country of Sri Lanka is, for most visitors, Colombo is merely a springboard to other destinations, such as the bucolic beaches, the magnificent UNESCO world heritage sites and a plethora of elephant nature reserves.

The city of Colombo however, has a long and interesting history as a port on ancient East-West trade routes. Colombo was ruled by the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British and that part of its heritage is reflected in the colonial architecture which still remains in tact alongside with the modern shopping malls and new hotels and restaurants.

The downside to Colombo is dealing with the intense and maddening traffic. However, Colombo is a city with plenty of interesting things to do and much to see and is becoming a destination in its own right.

Here are Green Global Treks four top picks of places to go in Colombo:

1) Gangaramaya Temple is the most famous and iconic Buddhist temple in Colombo. The temple is not only a place of worship, but is as well a  center of learning. It also has an impressive collection of Buddhist relics from around the world.

 

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Beautiful and intricate wall of teak carvings of the Buddha.

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2)The area known as the Galle Front Green beach front is a large open space between the old Colonial Ceylon parliament building and the elegant colonial Colombo Galle Face Hotel. In the evening and on weekends, families and friends gather to relax, fly kites and dip their toes into the Indian ocean as the sun sets over the city.  Women stroll along the promenade in gorgeous brightly colored saris and full black burqas, while children play alongside them.

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3) Then there is the choc a bloc Pettah old market area. This is where pineapples and vegetables are piled high in the narrow streets and in stalls as shoppers and vendors continue a centuries old mercantile trade vital to the citys population. Multiple cultural and ethnic groups cohabit the busy streets: men in brocaded skullcaps, boys carrying huge loads of goods and women searching for the best deals on household goods.

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4) Mount Lavinia Beach is a city beach, somewhat South of the city and feels like a world away from the hustle and bustle of the congested streets. The beach is wide and sandy and is a place where there are numerous restaurants where one can bury ones feet in the soft sand while eating fresh seafood and watching the sun set over the gentle waves nearby. Young boys play cricket, while fishermen bring in their boats with their catches of the day.

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So where to stay in Colombo?

Hands down, after staying in quite a few of the larger hotels (of which there are many), a few guesthouses, we finally find our “home away from home” ~ The Margosa Residencies.

The Margosa Residencies is somewhat like finding the jewel at the end of a treasure hunt.

What we appreciate most, when we encounter a city which we know we will return to many times in the future, is to find a destination that strikes the right balance between aesthetics and charm, a walkable neighborhood and the comforts of home.

The Margosa Residencies was originally built in the 1930s as a grand home, steps away from the beach and was recently meticulously restored and rebuilt as six very spacious and tasteful apartments.

Each apartment has its own large private porch and or veranda area, copious bedrooms, living room and equipped kitchen. Perfect for short or long term stays, The Margosa Residencies are quite unique.

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An ancient portal stone carving, graces the entrance to one of The Margosa Residency apartments.

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The living room of the apartment we are staying in has not one, but two patios! One to the right which is private and the other which is shared with another apartment and overlooks the garden and train.

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The kitchen area has everything one needs for those interested in cooking at home.

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The living room has French doors which open to the large private patio. Way more spacious than any traditional hotel can offer.

 

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The beds are uber comfy.

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The bedrooms have copious space.

 

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The Margosa Residency is right behind the train tracks which run parallel to the beach front. We love the sound of the train numerous times during the day, as it speeds by full of passengers heading South or returning to the city.

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The train has a charming old fashioned feel to it. Doors are open and its common to see people sitting and standing in the doorways on the steps, legs sticking out of the train as it speeds by.

 

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Hard to believe that the congested metropolis of Colombo is 20-30 minutes away from this blissful scene.

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Perfect place to have breakfast and start the day.

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And at the end of a day,, the Margosa Residency Apartments are just steps away from Mt Lavinia Beach ~ Easy access to sunsets over the Indian Ocean.

We were thrilled to find The Margosa Residencies and look forward to returning and staying here the next time we are in Colombo city.

http://www.themargosa.com/


Disclosure: We were invited to stay at Margosa Residencies at no cost, however all the words and opinions expressed are our own.

Comments are always welcome and appreciated!

18 thoughts on “Home away from home ~ The Margosa Residencies in Colombo, Sri Lanka

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks for your comment, Liesbet. Actually, we found the Margosa Residencies to be quite reasonable and of great value, considering the level of luxury. At the time that we stayed there, our one bedroom apartment was $60/night. (Prices may change based on season, occupancy etc, but this was certainly head and shoulders above the rest in terms of value.)

      Thanks for the heads up on the link, it’s working now…

  1. Gilda Baxter

    Big cities can be hard to fall in love with, but Colombo looks very interesting with lots to do and see. I am glad you found a great place to call home for a while. The Margosa Residence looks very comfortable, I loved the four poster bed. Interesting that Colombo was a Portuguese colony, do people speak Portuguese there?

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      The two main languages spoken in Sri Lanka are Singhalese and Tamil, and as it turns out, English is often used between the Singhalese and Tamil communities. Portuguese is not spoken in Sri Lanka.

      The following wikipedia link gives a good synthesis of the Portuguese Era in Sri Lankan history, providing some nuance about the evolving Portuguese presence in then Ceylon:

      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colombo

      The Portuguese did leave behind however a treasure trove of architecture, most notably, in Fort Galle, about 2 hours south of Colombo, where we spent time in, in 2014:

      http://www.greenglobaltrek.com/2014/09/fort-galle-sri-lanka-exquisite-architectural-preservation-fort-printers-hotel.html

      Peta & Ben

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      We were pretty happy to find the Margosa Residencies and to discover Mount Lavinia beach. We look forward to going back and staying there next time we are in Colombo.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Interestingly Sri Lanka was never on our list either although it always intrigued me! But then a good friend spent a few months living there, and after hearing about the elephants and beaches I was sold. Shortly thereafter when we booked flights from Bangkok to India there was a stop over in Sri Lanka and we took the opportunity for a 3 week stay. Honestly it’s been one of the most amazing countries we have ever spent time in!
      Peta

  2. carolinehelbig

    Great info! I agree that large, “springboard” cities are often bypassed. If you put in a little effort and stay for awhile, their riches make nuisances like congestion and pollution a lot more bearable. I remember this with Cairo—there’s much more to this crazy city than the pyramids and Egyptian Museum.
    The Margosa Residency looks spectacular. I’m squirrelling all these tips away!

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      It’s true that the more time one invests in a city the more one discovers. We found ourselves needing to be in Colombo for Bens’ work for longer than we would have naturally been inclined to stay.

      I do hope you get to Sri Lanka and get to stay at the Margosa residencies… So much nicer than the regular hotel.

      Peta

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Yes, indeed I would definitely put Margosa Residencies in the very special category!

  3. Sharon Rosenzweig

    The Margosa Residency looks like a great place to stay. I love the shot of Ben with his coffee and sea shell breakfast, obviously at home at the Margosa. I’d feel the same way, having grown up next to the trains, though this one looks more exotic than the Chicago Northwestern. I love all the colors– the stained glass, the pillows, the ocean, the sunset. I’m bookmarking the link for our bucket list.

    Did they hang the elephant painting just for you?

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Margosa Residency is definitely one of those places you want on your bucket list. I am excited to stay at their second location on our next trip to Sri Lakna up the North of the island, in Jaffna!

      Hard to beat the easy access of Cappucino and sunsets over the Indian Icean… Just steps away. We loved the sound of the train which runs between Margosa and the beach.

      The elephant painting in the living room was a nice little goodbye touch to our “own” little elephant guy. Aside from the fact that elephants are synonymous with Sri Lanka of course!

      Thanks for your comments Sharon!

  4. Nicole

    The Margosa residences seem like a one-of-a kind holiday accommodation, looks really comfy, homey and fabulous!

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Yes certainly in Colombo Margosa Residencies is one of a kind – unique place to stay and very “comfy and fabulous.”

  5. Maja

    I’ve been to Sri Lanka before, but haven’t been to the Margosa Residencies – have to come back and visit! It looks like a place where you’d want to stop for a few days – especially since it has such a homey and comfortable feel!

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Yes Maya next time you are in Sri Lanka we highly recommend you stay at The Margosa Residencies. You would really appreciate and enjoy it!