Review: My First-Ever Hilton Suite Upgrade, at the Colombo Hilton (Sri Lanka)

I had one night to spend in Colombo. It’s a popular stopover to and from the Maldives, since it’s inexpensive and easier to get in and out of than Male, though there the Maldives capital is increasingly accessible.

I actually wanted to spend the night in Colombo, though, and set up the trip this way on purpose. I could have done an outright stopover on my one-way Alaska Airlines-issued Emirates award, but I just booked it as a 23 hour connection. That was enough to grab some food in Sri Lanka.

For the night I chose one of the only Western chain hotels, the Hilton which is very much a business property.

Previous installments:

  1. Introduction, overview, and costs
  2. Star Alliance first class and business class lounges, LAX
  3. Etihad First Class, Los Angles – Abu Dhabi.. the 3rd Longest Flight in the World!
  4. Premier Inn, Abu Dhabi International Airport
  5. Etihad’s new business class lounge, Abu Dhabi
  6. Etihad Business Class, Abu Dhabi – Male
  7. Male Domestic Lounge and Maldivian, Male – Kooddoo, plus boat transfer to the Park Hyatt
  8. Park Hyatt Hadahaa, Maldives
  9. Park Hyatt Maldives Menus and Pricing
  10. Boat Transfer and Maldivian Domestic Flight from the Park Hyatt Maldives to Male
  11. Male Airport Lounge and (Alone In) Emirates First Class, Male – Colombo

The Hilton Colombo is about 45 minutes from the airport, though with traffic around 5pm it was a little longer.

On arrival there was no wait to check in. I was given a welcome drink and an offer to show me to my room, though I assured I could take myself there.

It was my first-ever suite upgrade from Hilton. I’ve stayed in Hilton suites before, on mistake rates (e.g. Hilton Nassau and Conrad Bangkok) and outright paid bookings (Hilton Cebu) but never received an upgrade to one through the HHonors program before. On this one night stay, in Asia where suite upgrades are far more common, I received one thanks to my fake Diamond status.

The hotel was very standard Hilton, especially the bathroom.

There was a separate living room and bedroom.

Not the most modern property, but comfortable and upgraded (no 1980s TV). The whole property is getting its needed renovation:

    (Click to enlarge)

There was also a Diamond welcome letter, which was very non-specific.

    (Click to enlarge)

Executive Floor benefits are detailed in a separate letter.

    (Click to enlarge)

Service is fantastic in the executive lounge, though food is fairly limited. Staff stand by the food and liquor to assist, and deliver requests.

The views from the property are wonderful.

And there’s a fantastic pastry shop in the lobby.

The hotel is expensive for Colombo at the $125 I paid. It would have been a terrible value on points, listed at 40,000, and making it one of the strange instances where premium rooms are cheaper than base rooms with HHonors points because those are based on actual room rates (and not a good value).

Still, for a suite with a club lounge access I felt like I got reasonable value and a comfortable place to spend the night, plus late checkout tiered to my Colombo – Dubai flight.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Couple of questions Gary: did you have to get a visa or show proof of your onward flight to be allowed the 48 hour no visa transit? Also I’m a little confused about the rate. Did you pay 125 and the base rooms were priced at 165?

  2. Everyone and their uncle has been to the Maldives, enjoyed 1st class and Hyatt (just look at your first post). Your “report” looks like a paparazzi’s dream. 20+ pics that’s only dwarfed by 1500 on TripAdvisor. I doubt anyone spends more than 1 min on your trip reports. Please go back to what you do really well, SELL credit cards.

  3. @Gaurav I did process electronic travel authority in advance. Sorry, the room rate example was from today to show how you can get a room cheaper in points as a premium room award than a standard room. I paid the base rate (not points) for the base room and was upgraded to a suite

  4. @ABC apparently opinions vary, hope that bowel movement clears up for you, and that the rest of your weekend was enjoyable!

  5. As a lowly Gold, I am amazed at the upgrades I get at Hilton properties in China. In April, I stayed at the Beijing Airport Hilton (got in late and had an early flight the next day), and was put in a suite that had to be close to 150 m2. This past weekend, at the Beijing Hilton at the 3rd Ring Road, I was upgraded to the second largest suite they had – I almost got lost looking for the bathroom (all marble).

  6. I will be going on from CMB to HKG on Cathay. I will be on Sri Lanka for 7 nights, not including my 2am Sunday departure.

    I’ll be interested in your trip report to decide whether I want a day in CMB, to see CMB and have a place to stay until heading to the airport late Saturday night. What are the lounge hours on a Saturday night?

  7. Gary said:
    ” @ABC apparently opinions vary, hope that bowel movement clears up for you, and that the rest of your weekend was enjoyable!”

    This is hilarious.
    I do like your trip reports and don’t mind the credit card information (and links).
    Keep up the good work.

  8. I have a soft spot for the Mount Lavinia. Not been there in a while, not since the war died down. Would like to go back, but would stay at the Mount.

  9. @beachfan – Cathay uses a different lounge than Emirates (which has its own in CMB). It’s a contract lounge that as far as I know is open 24 hours a day. But I doubt you can check in more than 3 hours in advance (would have to check, it’s conceivable they open checkin 4 hours out).

  10. @beachfan: Was in Sri Lanka last summer w/ my family for about 18 days. Never went to Colombo and don’t regret that decision. Outside of Colombo, however, there are no chain hotels. Wonderful country; lot’s to do.

  11. @Gaurav: Happy to share any info I can. Here’s a brief run-down, but feel free to ask questions.

    Even with 18 days we didn’t see as much as I would have wanted to. We were mostly in the interior and eastern part of the country, skipping the rainy summer weather on the more heavily visited south and west coasts.

    We didn’t enjoy our time in Nuwara Eliya as it was cold (in the 40s) and raining the entire day-and-a-half that we were there. I’m sure it’s nice if you hit one of the 50 non-rainy days a year that they get.

    Otherwise, enjoyed everywhere we went.

    Bus transportation was fun and scenic if not entirely comfortable. Local transportation is by tuk-tuk. There are cabs and hire cars everywhere; many people tour the country with a car and driver for multiple days. Train travel through the central highlands is fantastic although extremely crowded. There’s a great “rail car” line (like a bus that runs a train tracks) which we took from Pollunaruwa to Batticaloa.

    The ancient cities are fantastic, especially Anaradhapura. We were in Yala and Minneriya for the “gathering” of elephants which was great, but be aware that a visit to any of the national parks is going to wind up costing $100 for two people. Climbing Sigiriya is a must.

    We were also in Kandy for the Perahera (elephant parades) around the July / August full-moon day and that was a blast.

  12. Why did you not contemplate the Residences? A two bedroom deluxe suite on cash and points would have set you back a mere 16000 points and $65…………

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