The Royal Bar & Hotel began life in the early 19th century as the Mampitiya Disawe's Walauwa (chieftain's mansion) in what was then known as Swarna Kalyana Vidiya, the street leading to the king's palace (and now known as Raja Vidiya, or King's Street). Then it was a one-storey clay walled building with a low veranda and a clay-tiled roof.

It was the residence of Mampitiya Bandara, son by a minor (sub) queen (Yakado Doli) of King Sri Vikrama Rajasingha who reigned from 1798 to 1815 as the last king of Kandy. Mampitiya was executed on the king's orders for what could have been imagined treachery.


When Kandy's premier Queen's Hotel opened in 1844, the Mampitiya Walauwa was utilised as an extension, becoming a Club House for British officers. The Club House was shifted to another location and the Mampitiya Walauwa was turned into a licensed tavern in 1860, becoming a popular haunt of British coffee (and then, later, tea) planters.

It served as hostelry for gentlemen in colonial days before changing with independence into an inn for Kandy's citizens. Because of its rich heritage, the previous owner wanted the camaraderie of a tavern to be retained by its new owner, so that the Royal Bar & Hotel would continue to welcome all guests, rather than becoming an exclusive boutique hotel.

The new owner has achieved this with the style and passion of a devoted enthusiast, renovating and refurbishing the building in keeping with its heritage. The former arrack tavern on the ground floor now serves snacks and coffee as well as draught beer and a full range of alcohol with an open-air extension in the cobbled interior courtyard for alfresco drinking and dining.


As the building is a listed "World Heritage City Kandy, Conserved Building" under the auspices of UNESCO, changes to the exterior have been done only in keeping with tradition, while the interior has been modernised without disturbing the classic colonial lines.

With its white rattan chairs and marble-topped tables, deep red paintwork and high wooden ceilings, solid timber beams and quaint galleries, it is easy to imagine the Royal Bar & Hotel as being frequented by the literati and gentry of colonial times, as well as being the meeting place in Kandy of today's cognoscenti.

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