When exactly the Royal College first had a boarding is not quite certain. There is a view that a boarding existed in the late 1860s during the regime of Rev. Bancroft Boake. But it is certain that a boarding did exist in the early 1870s when Mr. Cull was Principal of the Colombo Academy.

This boarding House was situated on the top floor on the Main College building at San Sebastian, and consisted of dormitories and some cubicles. The Principal himself, who lived on the premises, oversaw the institution and often sat to dinner with the boarders. It was also in the 1870s that Mr. Ashley Walker, the father of Cricket at Royal, joined the College as Assistant Master and Boarding Master.

An old boy and former boarder at San Sebastian, writing under the pseudonym "KOS" in the College Magazine in the Centenary year, gives a vivid picture of the boarding in the 1880s and early 1890s. This part of the College building has been described as most unsuitable for a boarding. With the building overlooking the Beira Lake, dinner during the season of lake flies would have been an adventure in "spicing" of the culinary art. An old boarder has described the lake flies that swarmed in and flew into the mouths, ears and noses, and settled into the soups and stews. To remove them in such numbers was too much of a task for hungry schoolboys; so we ate the soups and stews, flies and all!"

It was perhaps the unsuitable conditions and the lake flies that resulted in the number of boarders dwindling down to 15 by 1904. From this year on there was agitation for a new building for a boarding, but the Government of the day did not respond. When the College shifted out of San Sebastian the boarding closed down. There was no provision for one either at Thurstan Road or at Reid Avenue. Repeated efforts to get the Government to provide a suitable building proved futile.

Then in 1935 an Old Boys' Cricket Match was played as part of the Centenary Celebrations. Speaking at the lunch that followed, Mr. D.W. Subasinghe, who captained the Outstation Old Boys in the match and was himself a product of San Sebastian, made a stirring plea for a boarding for the College. This plea received the support of the captain of the opposing Colombo Old Boys’ team, Mr. Forrester Obeyesekere, The Principal Mr. L.H.W. Sampson, and all those present. It struck a particularly responsive chord in Mr. H.J. Wijesinghe, an Old Royalist who had once been a boarding master in that "school by the sea" - (and, I was told by my uncle, wielded the rod very efficiently and very frequently).

Once again the proposals seemed to be lapsing into oblivion through inaction, when Mr. H.J. Wijesinghe assumed duties as Acting Principal on the retirement of Mr. Samspon. He did not allow the grass to grow under his feel. With the great energy that he had, he took prompt action, (very many of us, alas, have felt that energy through the end of a cane). With the co-operation of the Old Boys' Association and a Committee appointed for the purpose, Mr. Wijesinghe prevailed upon the Maha Mudaliyar, Sir James Obeyesekera, to place the stately mansion belonging to him across the road, "The Maligawa", at the disposal of the College for a boarding, along with all the old and valuable furniture and fittings. A truly magnificent gesture of trust and confidence in the College boys. And so in May 1939 a long felt need of the College was at last met and "The Maligawa" opened its doors to the boarders. The College had a boarding again after almost thirty years, and all credit must go to Mr. Wijesinghe for this achievement.

Mr. Wijesinghe continued to take a great interest in all aspects of the boarding even to the extent of extending his evening walk to include a check on "study time" at the institution. He, along with the boarding masters, instilled such a high standard in the boys that today, fifty years later, we boarders of the Maligawa, have got together to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of its establishment.

In December 1941 Japan entered the war and Ceylon, as the country was then known, came closer to the action. The military took over the College and the Maligawa at short notice. The College continued at the University, and later at "Turret House" and adjacent buildings. But the boarding had to close down.

When the wartime branch of the College started in Bandarawela in May 1942, a boarding became an urgent necessity. And so "Glendale" came into being with Mr. J.T.R. Perimpanayagam in charge of both the School and the boarding and Mrs. Perimpanayagam in charge of the housekeeping. Great credit must go to them for the success of "Glendale" in spite of the many wartime difficulties and shortages.

When the College returned to its home at the end of the war, the Old Boys Union agitated for the return of the Maligawa, but the military authorities did not release the building. Instead the Minister offered the College part of the old Training College building for a boarding. So once again the college had a boarding in Colombo. Mr. B.C. Anghie was the Warden assisted by Mr. B. St. E. de Bruin and Mr. M.K.J. Cantlay as Boarding Masters. Later Mr. C.E. Belleth succeeded Mr. Anghie as Warden. Subsequently the building was shifted to the Siyawasa Exhibition Library Building, and later a section was added on Reid Avenue.

Present Hostel

The Hostel of Royal College is a "Home away from Home" for 300 students who come from different areas of the island including 12 hostel prefects.

Due to the limited accommodation and facilities, annually the hostel could take in only about 40 students who gain admission to Grade Six as scholars. But due to the increasing demand for hostel facilities, the Principal decided to accommodate more students. In 2004 and 2005 more than 100 students were provided with hostel facilities. The Royal College old Hostellers’ Association (ROCOHA), who felt the need of accommodating more students, has already taken steps to build a new complex. The estimated cost is Rs. 65 million and about 475 students are expected to be accommodated.

As a result of their efforts, the first phase of the new hostel complex, which has room for 240 students, was opened by the then Prime Minister Hon. Mahinda Rajapaksha on the 12th of August. The previous night Seth Pirith was chanted and Priests belong to the other religious also came and conducted religious ceremonies.

The Management is under the supervision of the Principal, Senior Deputy Principal, Warden and Sub-Warden while the Board of Prefects join hands and perform their respective duties.

The Management always make arrangements to provide the hostellers with a nutritious, balanced diet. The charges are reasonable when compared with the facilities they are provided with. The tutorial staff serves with a sense of dedication and commitment by imparting knowledge as well as promoting attitudes and skills of the hostellers.

Currently, Mr. K. M. Aruna de Silva, a member of the tutorial staff, is the Warden. Mr. Richard Perera, the Senior Master in charge of Games provides the necessary support as the Sub-Warden.
Mrs. Chandra Weerakoon, the Supervisor and Mrs. K.M.S.A.Chithrani , the Matron perform their respective services efficiently.

The hostellers excel in the field of sports too. Mostly, they are involved in Hockey, Basketball, Volleyball, Baseball and Boxing, representing the College. They are active members of various societies in the school such as the Radio Club, Library Society, Red Cross Society and Buddhist Brotherhood.

The special programmes, which are conducted by the Hostel, add colour and life to it. The "Hostel Day" is one of the most important days in the school calendar. The "Special Evening" provides chances to demonstrate their capabilities and talents. The skills and talents in educational as well as co-curricular activities are evaluated and rewarded in the presence of their parents.

“Miyesi Meerawaya’, the Annual Musical Pageant of the hostellers, is a refreshing evening. Now the hostel has its own orchestra that consists of several very talented instrumentalists.

The ‘Sil’ campaign on Poson and the Sunday school are two events which draw the hostellers towards religion. Apart from all these, the organizers take steps to arrange two trips: the 2-day educational trip and the trip to Kandy to witness the Royal vs. Trinity, Bradby Shield Rugby Match.