By Rashika Fazali
Catering to a different set of tourists known as backpackers, the Colombo City Hostel (CCH) was recently launched in the busy city of Kohuwala.
This one-of-a-kind hostel, with its black, red and white décor, shows off a mixture of traditional and modern style of living and is certain to satisfy all guests.
CCH Co-owner Ranil Samarawickrema stated that this sort of hostel is very popular in Europe. Commenting on why he wanted to launch such a hostel, he stated: “I’ve always wanted to do this since I used to be a backpacker and I understand it. This project took around two years.”
He told the Daily FT that he picked Kohuwala since he had had this property for a long time and decided to renovate it into a hostel dedicated to travellers.
Samarawickrema revealed that CCH follows and maintains four features – clean, fun, safe, and cheap.
What Samarawickrema means by fun is that CCH does not have television sets as Samarawickrema noted that backpackers aren’t usually concerned about watching programs. However, he noted that CCH has various other entertainment devices and methods such as free Wi-Fi, board games, musical instruments and plenty of books, magazines and newspapers to read.
“Every night we have an event. We have movie nights, barbecue nights and so much more. The reason behind this is because we want people to interact with each other.” And that is what backpackers do best!
Speaking at the official launch, Chief Guest Jetwing Hotels Chairman Hiran Cooray said: “I feel 30 years younger after coming here. With tourism blooming, the country needs to define new places. Everyone has to upgrade their hotels. But I don’t think that is tourism. Tourism means coming to a place like this where people can mingle with other people and go to our local kades (shops).”
CCH is managed by an extremely energetic young lady, Kathleen Kleinhempel, who came down four weeks ago from Germany to take this job. Speaking to the Daily FT, she mentioned that she was quite thrilled about being the hostess of CCH. “I feel very comfortable being here at CCH already! The point of having this hostel is to meet people and get in touch with people who have the same interests.”
She revealed that their first guest was a German who came down from Singapore.
Samarawickrema also mentioned that they have around 30 people who have already booked the hostel. “In our first week, we had seven guests who stayed at the hostel.”
CCH has a room capacity of 32 beds (four rooms consisting of eight beds per room) and six bathrooms, out of which only 22 beds are in use. The bathrooms are of simple cemented floors with ample shower space.
A single night stay at the hostel would cost US$ 20 with an additional US$ 2 if the tourist wants food provided as well. Samarawickrema added, “For this price, you won’t get a room anywhere in Colombo.”
The hostel has an around-the-clock open kitchen where guests can make their own meals if they wish to. The hostel has other features such as lockers for the guests to put their personal items, sun beds, an outside courtyard, an in-house bar, two lounges inside the hostel, and comfortable bunk beds.
Pix by Daminda Harsha Perera