Lovingly restored heritage hotel famous for its Nippon Rolls
Locals come here for the famed Nippon Rolls. The recipe dates back to the days of WWII. “It was the Japanese wife of Mr. Roskowski, the Polish founder of the hotel who introduced them and we still use her recipe today. The deep-fried rolls filled with mutton, beef, fish or vegetable are incredibly popular. We sell 150 to 400 rolls a day in our Kafé” says Vishnu V. Vethody, the hotel manager.
Revamped heritage hotel
Nippon wasn’t built as a hotel, but as an apartment building for British residents. That was 135 years ago. It was the polish émigré Mr. Roskowski who turned it into a hotel, he called Nippon in honour of his Japanese wife. It became one of the three landmark hotels within Colombo city, with Galle Face Hotel and the Grand Oriental Hotel. The ethnic riots of the 80’s brought an end to the good years. January 2 2008 was a dramatic day. A bomb concealed in a flower truck went off killing four people. In 2014 the hotel got a massive facelift to bring it back to its former glory. “We wanted to revamp its image, welcoming in the new while celebrating the old like the 19th-century iconic solid teak staircase and original floor tiles.” says Mr Vethody “we also paid tribute to the sacred Bo tree at the end of the hotel with its serene Buddhist shrine”.
Nice to know
Hotel Nippon featured in David Lean’s Academy Award-winning film Bridge on the River Kwai shot in Ceylon in the mid-1950s. Some of the indoor shots of the Japanese army headquarters were shot in Nippon. Greg Roskowski, the owner, even acted in the film as one of the British Prisoners of War.