Situated in the heart of Colombo, Tintagel is one of the recent historical structures that has gained recognition as a monumental political house in Sri Lanka. Named after the legendry King Arthur’s castle in Cornwall, Tintagel has become a landmark and a luxurious city hotel that not only resonates the history of England but also reflects a noteworthy political era in the Sri Lankan history.
Built in 1930, Tintagel was the residence of Dr. Lucian de Silva, a well-known gynecologist who lived there for 12 years. At the peak of World War II, the British in Sri Lanka were in search of a building in Colombo to house 100 soldiers. Having found Tintagel to be a convenient place for this purpose, in the mid 1940s, Dr. De Silva was given a week to vacate the house which was then occupied by the British. The house was however returned to him in 1947 which made him ecstatic, yet his happiness was cut short when he saw the condition of his beloved house which had been wrecked. The courtyard, tennis court and the rose garden which were a part of the house were in ruins. Depressed by the state of things, he sold Tintagel to Sir Solomon Dias Bandaranaike who purchased it for his son S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike.
It is from this point on that the house came to be known as one of the strongest political houses in Sri Lanka that was home to four powerful political figures in the country. S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, the owner of the residence, joined Sri Lankan politics and soon became the fourth Prime Minister of Sri Lanka. While Mr. Bandaranaike spent a happy life at the house, his unfortunate assassination was attempted at this residence. Although he did not die immediately, he passed away the next day at the hospital. On the account of his death, S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike’s widow, Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike joined politics to become the world’s first female Prime Minister and Sri Lanka’s longest serving Prime Minister. Following on the parent’s footsteps, their son, Anura Bandaranaike became a minister, the leader of the opposition and a speaker of the house of parliament, while the second daughter, Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, became a chief minister, Prime Minister and the first female President of Sri Lanka.
While Tintagel has witnessed the rise of significant political figures in the country, the family decided to lease it, which was then purchased by Mr. Udayshanth Fernando in 2005, who went on to convert it into a unique and exquisite private city hotel.
Offering 10 unique suites, with modern amenities and services, Tintagel now provides a haven for guests who prefer privacy and tranquility in the heart of Colombo’s most elite neighborhoods. Furnished with timber floors, antique decorations and contemporary paintings, the suites at Tintagel offer a daring and dramatic interior styled with grace and elegance. The courtyard situated outside the main lobby lounge provides a tranquil outdoor restaurant decorated with white woven chairs around polished concrete tables amongst the greenery of trees and creeps. The original dining room of the house has been converted to a chic indoor restaurant offering international cuisine. In addition, Tintagel offers a private dining room overlooking the lap pool, which could accommodate up to 30 people, and a bar, known as the Red Bar, which is polished with blood red lacquer and cement walls with a gilded Parisian mirror on the backdrop.
Restored and redesigned by the proprietor, Mr. Shanth Fernando, Tintagel has been retouched by simplicity and style that enhances its historical value and add to the grace and elegance of the residence. Paying tribute to the historical heritage of the house, merely cosmetic changes have been done to the building. With customized artwork and antique pieces purchased from countries such as France, Holland and Iran, the interior reflects a sense of timeless beauty touched by black and grey undertones.
With famous and prominent personalities and royalty including Prince Charles, Duchess of Cornwall, Tony Blaire, Middle Eastern royalty and public figures such as Amal Clooney, Priyanka Chopra and Deepika Pandukowan having stayed at Tintagel, the hotel aims to accommodate high profile guests that seek a private and tranquil haven in the heart of Colombo.
Built with labour of love and passion, Tintagel still maintains the facade of colonial architecture and historical elegance under the vigilant care of its current proprietor. Tintagel, where Sri Lanka’s political history was decided, now remains a stylish and monumental private city hotel that resonates both historical value and timeless beauty.
By Sunali Fernando
Photography By: Sidath Wanaguru