The beautifully designed guestrooms are enormous. Decorated sparely with impressive Sri Lankan and Chinese antiques they are clustered around a shady courtyard where pink frangipani petals confetti the azure pool. Guests can choose between complete privacy or the opportunity of community with fellow travelers. Luscious three-course dinners are astonishingly cheap. Christopher Ong oversees the kitchen, turning out sensational Straits Chinese food. Choose to dine al-fresco on the terrace or in the recently opened private dining room, which is enhanced by displays of Ong’s impressive porcelain collection.
Celebrated in acres of press, this award-winning hotel is loved most for its simplicity and evocative charm. It is impressive without trying to impress. The hotel is ideally situated inside the Fort and encircled by the serenity of its ancient streets, houses, temples and ramparts. While it might feel like you are a million miles from the modern world it is only a fifteen minute walk through the Fort gates to the bustling, vibrant streets and markets of the main town of Galle or a short tuk tuk ride to the touristic beaches beyond.
These beautiful suites are split level, having a romantic loft bedroom on the upper floor and a cosy living area furnished with long cushioned settees and a modern bathroom on the lower floor. A high six metre atrium rises above the staircase linking the two floors and there is a light-filled inner courtyard framed by ancient tiles and fan palms. Each has a private verandah with garden and pool views.
Blue & White Porcelain Suite
Elegantly decorated with eighteenth century blue and white porcelain imported by the Chinese to Galle, this suite has 6m high vaulted ceilings and huge Dutch shuttered windows that overlook the pool and garden. This suite benefits from its own dressing room – cum- bathroom with shower.
Le Grand Appartement du Compte de Mauny
Named after the eccentric Compte de Mauny who famously designed the house atop Taprobane island, this penthouse suite comprises two bedrooms, each with their own bathrooms and a salon-cum-dining room. At 2,500 square feet, it occupies the whole of the top floor of the old wing and is the only suite to have views over the sun-baked rooftops and religious landmarks of the fort. While the teak floorboards and lime washed ceilings are part of the original design, the bathrooms – one of which has an outdoor terrazzo shower – are sleek and modern. Original artwork hugs the white walls while furnishings include chaise longues on the verandah, antique chests, cabinets and enormous Dutch spiral four poster beds.
The Cheng Ho Pavilion
Commemorating the visit of Admiral Cheng Ho to Galle in 1406, this exquisite split-level suite with 6m ceiling is decorated with Chinese and Peranakan fittings. The upper mezzanine level features a magnificent antique-carved Chinese Opium bed while a screen made from rare antique columns provides privacy from the spacious living area below. The tropical outdoor pillared bathroom features an elevated waterfall shower.
The Library Suite
Featuring twin king sized beds this suite displays a fine collection of Kandyan hat pins bejewelled with semi-precious stones that would have been worn by celebrants in the Kandy Perahera. A cosy sitting area opens onto a balcony under an archway overlooking the main building. The spacious bathroom has a large, open shower.
The Mews Suite
Part of the former staff quarters of the Makaan Makaar family, this self-contained suite is situated a short distance from the pool and benefits from its own private entrance and courtyard garden with romantic day bed. On the ground floor of the suite is a king sized bed and large granite shower room while a jackwood staircase leads to a mezzanine level where a single bed, ideal for children, is located. A little gateway leads to a tiny street where the vibrancy of fort life is played out. Ideal for families.
– Ride inland on mountain bikes to discover a stunning emerald landscape of paddy fields, white-washed Buddhist temples, and rural villages
– Spend the day on one of the golden beaches along the coast: Unawatuna, Thalpe or Mirissa
– Go whale and dolphin watching from Mirissa
– Visit the virgin white tea plantation in Titagalla and learn how tea, cinnamon and rubber is produced
The dining room and inner verandah are reserved for in house guests, so breakfasts can turn into lengthy occasions as you enjoy toast, eggs and coffee or tea overlooking the peaceful garden and pool. Lunches are typically chosen from a short but select a la carte menu that includes flavoursome Asian mains such as Vietnamese noodle salad while three course dinners may start with tom yang goon (Thai spicy prawn soup) and be followed by Grilled lobster or red mullet curry served with fragrant rice and salad. Irresistible desserts such as coffee panacotta and island-renowned homemade sorbets typically finish off any meal.
The front verandah is often a hive of social activity as outside guests congregate to enjoy the relaxing ambience and eclectic selection of cocktails on offer while music thrums softly in the background. A good selection of wines, world famous Ceylon white tea and delicious coffees are also available.