Historic Hotels in Galle

The Galle Fort Hotel : A boutique hotel with an exquisite heritage

September 14, 2015

Extracted from: http://newsfirst.lk/

Walking down past the beautiful Old Dutch Reformed Church built in 1755 next door to Amangalle and further down the street I came to the Dutch Fort Hotel. Managed by Mr. David Elgar an experienced hotelier and Australian, the Dutch Fort Hotel is a feast for the eyes and also for the lovers of the Forts history right back even further than the Portuguese. One of the suites was apparently the living area of the 14th Century Commander Chin Ho reminding us that the Chinese were here a full century before the Portuguese. The original foundation of this mansion is over 400 years old and was probably used by the Portuguese and Dutch as a trading office. The present hotel is a reflection of the grandeur of 400 years with the restoration completed by two enterprising foreign gentlemen who were experts at restoration. It was sold to a local family about 4 years ago and continues to be an attraction of old world charm and superior hospitality.

The hotel has 12 suites and averages almost full occupancy throughout the year at an average USD 250++. 50% of reservations are direct and the rest walk-ins and web based. General Manager David Elgar says he is very happy with his staff and is very content to be here. To understand the Galle Fort Hotel is to understand its history and the valuable contribution it is making towards tourism in Sri Lanka.

The Galle Fort was built first in 1588 by the Portuguese and then extensively fortified by the Dutch during the 17th century. It is a historical archaeological and architectural heritage monument, which even after more than 423 years has stood the test of time, due to extensive reconstruction work done by Archaeological Department of Sri Lanka. In 1988, UNESCO listed Galle Fort as a World Heritage Site. Prior to the departure of the most recent British administration the majority of properties in Galle were handed over to a predominantly Galle Muslim community. In those days other wealthy families would have used the GFT as weekend retreat.
Mr Azhar is the owner of a gem, jewellery, miners and exporters business, is located 3 shops down from the Galle Fort Hotel. He has been in the business for 50 years and his family are 3rd generation resident’s of Galle. His Uncle Mr Muhiden was the previous owner of GFH and conducted his gem distribution business from the hotel.

In 1999 the Sri Lankan government lifted the 100% tax on foreign ownership, which resulted in Australian, Karl Steinberg, and his Malaysian partner Christopher Ong purchasing the dilapidated and abandoned 17th century Dutch merchant’s house. Spending two years renovating the house using local craftsmen and traditional building techniques and by 2004 the Galle Fort Hotel opened.
The Galle Fort Hotel has won a number of awards including the 2007 UNESCO Asia Pacific Heritage Award of Distinction, for heritage conservation. It was the 2010 winner of ‘Sri Lanka’s Leading Boutique Hotel’ at the World Travel Awards. The hotel was again nominating in the 2015 World Travel Awards as Sri Lanka’s leading boutique hotel. In 2011 Colombo Fort Hotels an associate company of Lankem Ceylon PLC purchased the hotel.


Galle Fort Hotel : A Hidden Gem

August 11, 2014

Reviewed on national newspaper The Sunday Leader 

Tucked away in the UNESCO world heritage site of the Galle Fort is the recipient of 2007 Award of Distinction for Heritage Conservation, the Galle Fort Hotel a colonial hotel in Galle. A brainchild of Australian Karl Steinberg, the hotel has been welcoming guests for the past 10 years.  Since November 2011, it is under the Lankem Group of Companies.

The 12 room property on Church Street boasts a rich history dating back to 1695, a little younger than the key landmark in which it resides, the fortress of Galle, built by the Dutch East India Company in 1663. The property was once the home to one of the most prestigious gem merchant families in Asia, the Macan Markers, famed for their sapphire collection including the 182 carat “star of Bombay” now in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.

The property which ceased to be a private residence in the latter stages of the first half of the 20th century and post independence (1948), spent time, among other identities, as a bakery as well as the Fort Post Office.

Following its restoration the hotel opened its doors in November 2004, just weeks before the Boxing Day Tsunami. In the immediate aftermath of this tragic event The Galle Fort Hotel was a centre of operations for NGOs, journalists and other organisations as well as providing support to the surviving victims

Today the hotel is a collection of buildings from different periods, testament to its prominence through the ages, each reflecting different architectural styles.

The heritage wing, dates to the early 18th century, houses a range of suites each with a unique character. For example, the Admiral Cheng Ho Suite, or ACH as the guests refer to, commemorates the great Chinese explorer who paid several visits to Galle, the first in 1405. The Porcelain Suite has a display of antique Chinese ceramics between the bathroom and bedroom and original Dutch period 9m (30 ft) ceilings.

There are other antiques on display in the other guest rooms as well as the public areas of the hotel. These are all part and parcel of this boutique heritage hotel and add to its charm and character.

The hotel has maintained an enviable reputation for food in its short history, even with the current interest in the Fort due to the increasing range of cafes and restaurants. The hotel offer from casual lunch time cafe menu and tapas bar menu to the fine dining Asian fusion set dinners, well catering for both foreign and local guests. The bar has a full range of drinks including an extensive wine and cocktail list. The restaurant and bar are open to the public daily from 12pm.

The newly revamped page of the Galle Fort Hotel can be found on Facebook

world luxury hotel awards

2018 Leading Boutique Hotel Awards Winner

world travel awards

2018 World Luxury Hotel Awards Winner