Review: SriLankan Serendib Lounge Colombo Airport

Filed Under: Other Airlines, SriLankan

I made it to Colombo shortly before 11PM, and had a roughly 90 minute connection before my flight to Male. Since my connection was on a separate ticket, my first priority was finding the transit desk so that I could have my boarding pass issued.

We arrived at the far end of one of the piers, so it was a roughly five minute walk to the “central” part of the terminal. There’s something I find sort of charming about Colombo Airport, even though it’s quite run down.

Colombo Airport terminal

Once in the central part of the terminal I spotted the transit desk to the left of immigration. They do have a special business class queue, though I was helped by another available agent immediately.

SriLankan transit desk Colombo Airport

While at the desk I received great news — my flight from Colombo to Male was schedule to be operated by an Airbus A320, which features SriLankan’s regional product. However, they had subbed in a brand new Airbus A330-300. That was awesome news, because as I’ve written about in the past, this is the plane which features SriLankan’s new reverse herringbone business class seat.

The agent assigned me a seat in the center section of the cabin. I asked if there was a window seat available instead.

“Do you maybe have a window seat in row two, three, or four?”
“Yes, which one do you want?”
“Whichever you have available.”
“You’re the only passenger, you can have whichever seat you’d like.”

Wow, not only would I be flying on a brand new plane, but I’d be the only passenger in business class. Can’t beat that!

The agent gave me directions to SriLankan’s Serendib Lounge, which was just a short walk away.

Colombo Airport terminal

SriLankan Serendib Lounge exterior Colombo Airport

Best I can tell SriLankan has two lounges in Colombo — they have the Serendib Lounge and the Serenediva Lounge. I’m not totally clear on the difference in terms of access, though I believe the Serendib Lounge is for oneworld Emerald members, while the Serendiva Lounge is for oneworld Sapphire members. In theory I suppose that means the former should be nicer.

The entrance of the lounge brought me back to my childhood — I sort of felt like I was on “Legends of the Hidden Temple.” Ahhh, the good old days!

SriLankan Serendib Lounge entrance Colombo Airport

At the entrance I was promptly admitted upon presenting my boarding pass — it wasn’t even scanned.

SriLankan Serendib Lounge entryway Colombo Airport

The lounge was a decent size — it markets itself as having seating for 100 people — and moderately modern. It featured plenty of comfortable sofa-style chairs, as well as a dining area.

SriLankan Serendib Lounge seating Colombo Airport

SriLankan Serendib Lounge seating Colombo Airport

SriLankan Serendib Lounge seating Colombo Airport

SriLankan Serendib Lounge seating Colombo Airport

SriLankan Serendib Lounge dining area Colombo Airport

SriLankan Serendib Lounge dining area Colombo Airport

I chose a seat by the window, and literally the moment I sat down the attendant that had checked me in asked if I could complete a quick survey about the facilities available in the lounge. She handed me a (really dirty) iPad which asked me to rate the food, drinks, service, bathroom, etc.

The number of surveys requested in the travel industry in general pisses me off, though asking me to complete a survey rating the facilities when I just sat down seems like a new low.

SriLankan Serendib Lounge seating Colombo Airport

On each table was a sign with the services offered in the lounge. Most intriguing perhaps was the “instant photograph for that memorable moment.”

SriLankan Serendib Lounge services Colombo Airport

The lounge boasted decent views of the tarmac, including of the Cathay Pacific A330 I could have flown from Hong Kong.

View from the SriLankan Lounge Colombo Airport

The lounge had an extensive buffet, which impressed me. While I wasn’t hungry, most of the food looked quite decent.

SriLankan Lounge buffet Colombo Airport

SriLankan Lounge buffet Colombo Airport

SriLankan Lounge buffet Colombo Airport

SriLankan Lounge buffet Colombo Airport

SriLankan Lounge buffet Colombo Airport

SriLankan Lounge buffet Colombo Airport

SriLankan Lounge buffet Colombo Airport

SriLankan Lounge buffet Colombo Airport

SriLankan Lounge buffet Colombo Airport

SriLankan Lounge buffet Colombo Airport

Across from the buffet was a manned bar with cocktails, wine, etc.

SriLankan Lounge bar Colombo Airport

Then in the corner of the lounge near the entrance was a business center.

SriLankan Serendib Lounge business center Colombo Airport

And then also near the entrance was a relaxation room with reclining seats.

SriLankan Serendib Lounge relaxation room Colombo Airport

The most bizarre part of the lounge was that it was full of pilots. Towards the time I was leaving I’d say about half the guests were SriLankan pilots in uniform. It’s normal for airlines to have crew lounges, though it’s sort of rare for those to be the same as passenger lounges.

Shortly before midnight I left the lounge and headed down towards my departure gate, B1. It was just a short walk from the lounge to the escalator which leads down to gates B1-B4.

Colombo Airport terminal

Signage to departure gate Colombo Airport

Escalator to departure gate Colombo Airport

There was a single security checkpoint for four gates, so there was a bit of a queue. The flights to Male, Bangkok, and Bangalore were all departing from that area of the terminal.

Departure gate security Colombo Airport

Departure gate Colombo Airport

By the time I cleared security the gate area was quite empty, as most passengers were already on the bus to the remote stand.

Departure gate Colombo Airport

It was about a five minute drive to our brand new Airbus A330-300. Like, brand new A330, as it was the plane’s first ever commercial flight.

SriLankan A330 taking me to Male

Little did I know my best flight on this trip would also be my shortest!

SriLankan Serendib Lounge Colombo Airport bottom line

I was pleasantly surprised by SriLankan’s lounge in Colombo. The seating was comfortable and the food selection was good. The fact that it was full of pilots was certainly a new experience for me, but then again they made better guests than a lot of the other people I usually see in lounges. Is this the best airport lounge in the world at an airline’s hub? Nope. But it was perfect for a short visit, even though I wouldn’t want to have a super-long layover here.

I guess next time I should check out the Serendiva Lounge, which I believe offers complimentary 15 minute spa treatments.

Have you visited either of SriLankan’s lounges in Colombo?

  1. The number of affiliate links and blogs pushing credit cards in the travel industry in general pisses me off. Just saying.

  2. @Scott none of them are forcing you to apply. You can also choose to not visit these blogs.

  3. Much nicer than the lounger you visited on you last trip to that airport. Do they offer shower facilities?

  4. Slightly off topic, but besides CF from the US to Male, what are other most direct routes from the US?

  5. When in SL, eat the local food; not the western fare. Did the buffet include the former: curries, biriyani, etc.? Lounge would be worth it for that alone 🙂

  6. @Neil S.

    TK, EK, EY, and SQ are among the airlines that fly from their hubs to Male which would make for one stop service from many US gateways.

  7. Have found when flying business class on Sri Lankan out of Colomobo, we get an invitation to the Serendib Lounge (irrespective of any status). When flying any other airline for which Sri Lankan provide the lounge, we get an invitation to the Serenediva Lounge (which is a far worse lounge).

  8. I was there 2 weeks ago flying to BKK and the food was not so good. The wine was horrendous.

  9. Ben, I was there 2 weeks ago flying QR from CMB-DOH-CDG in business as a Oneworld Sapphire. I was actually turned away from Serenediva and escorted to Serenedib. So maybe it’s the other way around as far as eligibility? From what I experienced and saw though, the Serenedib seems to be the better lounge.

    You mention the staff/pax ratio. I can tell you that once all the UL flights leave, there is no one in the lounge. There’s a period from about 230am-6am with no SriLankan flights. No one from QR or CX was there either, as they are directed to the crappy contract lounge. I used my Oneworld status to access the SriLankan lounge figuring it would be better. It was me and about a half dozen staffmembers. A couple of pilots were there who seemed to be there mainly to flirt with the hostesses. Despite me being the only person, they kept the buffet fully stocked though!

  10. Have you checked out the lounge shared by Qatar, Cathay, etc? How does it compare?
    And do business class passengers traveling on oneworld get access to this SriLankan lounge?

  11. @norman – the lounge shared by Qatar and Cathay is a generic contract lounge shared by several airlines. It is very mediocre. If you are Oneworld business or first (or Sapphire or Emerald) you can use the Sri Lankan lounges now that SriLankan is a member of Oneworld. Those lounges are far better. It seems most people don’t know about this, thus I ended up having the large Serendib lounge to myself.

  12. @ Norman — I haven’t, sorry. I do believe oneworld elite members should be able to access the SriLankan lounge.

  13. @lucky
    Thanks, as always!

    Thanks for sharing the insights! It helps a lot! Do you happen to know if I’ll be able to check in for my Qatar flight at around 1:00am? And are the lounges 24hhrs as well?

  14. @Norman – a lot of times the check in counters won’t open till 3 hours before departure, so if you are originating at Colombo, you might not be able to check in until 130am. I think the lounges are 24 hours.

  15. Ben,

    Happy to know you liked your time in the lounge. I have visited there many times, at different time of the day depend on my flight. They do serve wonderful food, both Western and Sri Lankan, one can really eat a full meal, unlike some lounges in the world which just serve snacks and drinks. I am glad you did not get to try the Serendiva lounge, which doubles as a transit hotel. The staffs there were sully and unhelpful, atmosphere is dreary and dull too.

  16. Ben-would you say 90 minutes is enough to transit CMB? Looking at a flight on China Eastern MLE-CMB arriving at 2310 connecting to a CX departure at 0040. Any idea if there is a tendency for logjams for night flights out of MLE leading to delays?

  17. @ Gaurav — In theory it’s enough, though if you’re booking separate tickets I’d say that’s extremely tight. Any sort of decent sized delay would cause you to misconnect, which I wouldn’t want to risk if you’re on separate tickets.

  18. Hi Ben! What do you think of a 75-minute turnaround transit in Colombo with separate tickets on Cathay?

    And in your case, did you have to sort out any checked-in baggage?

    Thanks a lot!

  19. Hey Lucky!

    Same as guy above’s 2nd question: is there the opportunity to retrieve checked baggage and still check in at the airside Sri Lankan transit counter? I too will soon be transiting CMB on separate itineraries and am fearful of missing lounge time if I have to go out landside for bag retrieval. Thanks, and I love the blog!

  20. My transit time at Colombo airport was 13 hours, between business flights from GAN to Colombo, the Colombo to Melbourne.
    However I was refused entry to the lounge as they only allow a 10 hour stay maximum.
    Very disappointing for a oneworld airline.

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