Galle Fort Hotel, Galle, Sri Lanka: reviewBy Galle Fort Hotel on Monday, September 15th, 2014
Refined yet relaxed, Sri Lanka’s Galle Fort Hotel combines the sophistication of a boutique hotel with the easygoing atmosphere of a private retreat.
British and European couples in search of romance and travellers who have established a long-term love affair with Sri Lanka; stressed out professionals getting away from it all.
In the centre of petite and tranquil Galle Old Town, the hotel is ringed by colonial buildings, a smattering of restaurants, well-preserved ramparts and a crescent of coastline. There’s little to do here but relax and adapt to the slow pace of life, which is all part of the charm. Decent beaches, however, are a 15- to 20-minute tuk-tuk ride away.
Here in spades. A former gem merchant’s mansion, the hotel’s small number of rooms overlook a central, colonnaded courtyard with a pool and garden flush with blossom. Immaculately restored, the property feels more like a private residence than a standard hotel – its owners have done well to create a space that’s welcoming, soothing and special.
Were this hotel in London I’d describe service as slow but, in Sri Lanka, it’s just typically leisurely. A polite, obliging (and all-male) staff is on hand to assist whenever requested; guests are otherwise left to enjoy their time here without interruption.
Large and varied, rooms are decorated in an almost austere style with antique cabinets, four-poster beds and unexpected features – towering cabinets stocked with 18th-century china stand in the Porcelain Suite, for example. I stayed in the most basic Garden Room, which again was spacious and appealing but inadequate soundproofing meant my sleep was occasionally disrupted by staff setting about their work early in the morning.
Food & drink
Breakfast is served on the veranda, as is a set menu at dinner time. Both are tasty and refreshing but options are limited and basic so for longer stays plan additional meals elsewhere. In sleepy Galle, the hotel’s terrace bar is one of the few reliably atmospheric options for cocktails or beer.
Value for money
It may not be the cheapest option in Galle but this hotel is laden with charm and an abundance of unusual design features that represent excellent value for money. It is one of the most distinctive hotels I have stayed in. Garden rooms from $180 (£115); suites start from $220 (£140).
Access for guests with disabilities?
Children are permitted but this is a property for adults.