CityRest Fort Hostel in Colombo, Sri Lanka

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The CityRest Fort Hostel in Colombo was our first lodging in the tiny nation island in Sri Lanka.

We booked this Hostel through Hostelworld.com – our first time using this site. We paid a grand total of $303.60 for 4 nights at the CityRest Fort. It was rather steep honestly for a Hostel but it was in a Prime location where we could walk a lot which would save us on Tuk Tuk’s – from our understanding at least. We were saving a lot of money staying in much cheaper places so it all evens out.

You pay in Cash at the Hotel when you arrive. We paid in Sri Lankan Rupee. There is a bank just at the corner of CityRest Fort Hostel – Commercial Bank – the easiest and most reliable cash machines for international travelers.

I would share pictures of our room, lobby, breakfast, everything…but for some reason…I just absolutely went mental and never took a single photo of our Hostel. I still kick myself for this as the photos you see online don’t look a damn thing like the room we stayed in. In fact, the only photos you see online that look like the place are the main lobby and of our hallway. That’s it. Even the front of the building had to of been cleaned up from all the trash and crap and Tuk Tuks and loiterers hanging around.

Don’t get me wrong, we actually felt very safe at this hostel and in the area. At no time did I feel uncomfortable walking down the street except for the pushy Tuk Tuk drivers. They are just the absolutely worst part of Colombo. Not all of course…but most. And we took a lot of them.

The CityRest For is in central Lodging location in Colombo. Close walking distance to Shops, restaurants such as the Ministry of Crab (best Crab I’ve ever had in my entire life) on the corner in what is known as the Dutch Hospital. Easy walk to the Beach (don’t go in the water, it’s icky) where there are some interesting pop up food stands with local fare such as curries and other foods. A short walk around the corner brings to you some of the larger hotels.Ministry of Crab near CityRest Fort Colombo Fort Beach

If you are looking to meet other travelers and connect, this is not the place for it. There is no hang out space. The only time we met or spoke with others is during breakfast or while in the bathroom area. That’s it. Not really a place to meet people.

They have very friendly and helpful staff. We were greeted with fruit punch and cool wet towels to wipe off all the sweat as it was super hot and muggy out. They were the very best part of this Hostel.

The rooms are old as are the Lockers. All of ours were broken and jenky. The beds were comfortable. There was no top sheet but there was a blanket that was more of a table cloth. You got fresh towels and there was a shelf to put your shoes on in the hallway.

I booked this place largely because of the photos and description of the place. We’d each get our own bed with an outlet and a locker each. The rooms even were supposed to have a small desk and chair. They were supposed to be a bright and cheery orange with some artwork on the wall.

Reality: dingy orange walls, sockets that our devices kept falling out of, one locker with a crooked and almost falling off shelf, another locker with a broken door that wouldn’t close all the way and would tip over if you touched it. No Desk or chair in the room. No window or any natural light. It had great AC and also a fan.

I was super disappointed when I walked into our room. This is not what I wanted or signed up for. Especially for how much we paid for this place.

No food or drinks (water is okay) are allowed in your room but we totally snuck stuff in. Our daughter was sick 2 of our days there so we smuggled in food for her and even for us. We did seal it up really well so that we didn’t get more ants. There is a long list of rules on the inside of your bedroom door.

Breakfast was complimentary daily. They had what they (and all other SE Asian Countries) call Omelettes. These are just scrambled eggs with salt and pepper and maybe chives or something in them and then folded over to look like an omelette. No cheese. Sausages which are really just super small hot dogs. Instant noodles with veggies, Toast (Lots of toast), Fresh fruit like Watermelon, Pineapple and Papaya. And Tea, Nescafe Coffee and fruit punch. This is not just a typical breakfast at the CityRest Fort however. Most hotels and hostels consider this a “Western Breakfast” and serve it at every hostel we stayed at in Sri Lanka

There were bugs in the room and our daughter hated having little ants crawl over the walls. The showers and toilets were in one big room. There was a separate section for women in there with a door. The men didn’t have a separate door. The showers were warmish and I found a cockroach next to the garbage can in one of the toilet stalls. I’m not scared easily though so it wasn’t a big deal.

Each floor has a House Man who cleans the rooms and is in the bathroom as soon as you turn the water off.  I think they have different shifts where they also sleep over as there is a bed in the linen closet where they sit and wait for something to do. One day, my son and I were trying to shave the sides of our hair with a crappy shaver we’d gotten in the market down the street. We did a crappy job because the shaver was horrible. My House Man, pictured with me below, came into the bathroom and grabbed the shaver out of my hands an started helping me do my hair. He was good too…until it died. My hair looked stupid for a couple of weeks until we found a salon in Kandy to fix it.

CityRest Fort Hostel House Man
Our Dorm Housekeeper, House Man, who helped us with Laundry and even helped Sam an I shave our hair.

We washed our clothes in the Showers. Each one has water spouts about 2 feet from the ground. These are meant to wash your feet. The floor of the showers are cement. Kind of icky and not well cleaned so we didn’t set our clothes on the floor. We tried to hang them on the rails outside the back door of the bathrooms but our House Man came and got us and brought us up the dangerous spiral staircase outside up two floors to the super hot roof. He had us set our clothes on a rusted rack (that ruined my only white shirt) and on the plastic chairs and table there. He was always super helpful.

At the CityRest Fort, and really in most toilets in Sri Lanka, You was your butt and nether regions with a hand held sprayer. They are commonplace and in most every toilet/bathroom in Sri Lanka. You do your business, Spray yourself off and then you only use a small amount of toilet paper to dry yourself off with and toss it in the garbage can. The pipes there can’t handle toilet paper.

There is a gentleman who opens the doors for all guests and I think he’s a security guard, or at least dressed as one. They do sell ice cream in the lobby but you can’t really eat it anywhere but there as their rule of no food upstairs is strict. We never had any.

Okay, maybe I sound a bit harsh in the picture I’m painting. I’m sorry. While the CityRest Fort wasn’t what we’d expected – it was fine.

I felt like 4 days was too much time to be in Colombo. We were itching to leave. That’s probably a large part of why I had so many opinions about the CityRest Fort.

Overall, we had a good stay. We really disliked a lot about the city of Colombo but we would have no hesitation to go back to CityRest Fort Hostel if we ever wanted to visit this city again, which we don’t. Not the place for us. Read more about WHY, here:

Check out all the places we stayed at while in Sri Lanka for a month


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