“An immaculately restored, impeccably managed 150-year-old landmark hotel, presiding over Galle’s historic fort”
The graceful interior design of the sleeping quarters takes the Raj nostalgia trip to giddy heights. There are 5 categories of room, but all have highest-thread-count sheets and top quality mattresses on antique four-poster beds, free-standing bathtubs and excellent power showers. And the 28 rooms share 7 butlers, who act as concierges.
During the day, the light and airy design, polished wood floors, elegant French windows, planter's chairs and writing desks inspire book reading and letter writing. Elsewhere in your room you'll find a fruit-adorned dining table and antique pettegama chests (treasure chests). The only feature that is overtly incongruous to the bygone era is a Bose iPod dock.
We slept well in one of the garden-facing bedrooms. If you are not bothered about having much space or unforgettable views then these ground-floor economy-class rooms are beautifully finished and perfectly adequate. Next biggest are the first-floor chamber rooms - slightly bigger, with a separate sitting area.
However, if money is no object, go for a vast suite; 2 are on the ground floor, the rest on the top floor. Our favourite was #8, with its unrivalled views through the 200-year-old para trees, over the harbour and southwest over the church, the fort and out to sea. The Amangalla suite is bigger still (125 sq.m) with 2 kingsize beds and 1 single bed, plus the space to fit 1 extra bed and 2 baby cots, so it's ideal for a family.
Top of the range is the unique 2-storey Garden House. For honeymooners, the excessive amount of space, proximity to the pool, absolute privacy and 24/7 butler service are ideal.
The Amangalla restaurant has an excellent reputation, and is very popular with the local expat community. Open for lunch and dinner, as well as afternoon tea on the veranda, there's a constantly buzzy atmosphere, and guests tend to dress up for their meals.
What the opulent and formal Dining Room lacks in intimacy, it makes up for in quality of cuisine. Try the mouthwatering smoked salmon terrine, the fillet steak and the chocolate mousse. Or go for the traditional Sri Lankan curry, the Amangalla’s signature dish - it was the most delectable we encountered on the island. Everything is beautifully presented, and all bread, croissants, cakes, scones and jams are homemade.
Weather permitting, there is also a poolside dining room for breakfast and dinner. And if you would prefer a private, celebratory setting for an evening meal, the staff can arrange a romantic poolside table in a flash. We noted the waiters know exactly the right distance to keep in respect of your privacy.
Breakfasts stretch from traditional Ayurvedic (mixed fruit salad with spices and porridge plus hibiscus tea) through to classic fry-ups. The snack menu takes no prisoners either; we loved the eggs Benedict and chicken-avocado baguettes.
Within the walls of the fort are a growing number of options for eating out. For a simple lime juice or full-blown curry, Mama's Rooftop Café is Number 1 on our list because it offers a breathtaking 360-degree view of the fort and environs. Pedlar's Inn is another good casual option, offering above average coffees, sandwiches, salads and free WiFi. The Fort Printers and Galle Fort Hotel are more upmarket alternatives; advance bookings recommended.
Further afield, but never more than a 25 minute tuk-tuk ride, we recommend the following: The Sun House, The Dutch House, Kahanda Kanda, Nico’s and Why Beach for glamorous dining; Kingfisher and Wijaya Beach for laid-back beach-side seafood, pizzas and curries. Strip is the hotspot for sundowners on the beach.
Children and babies are welcomed with genuine smiles. Baby cots, extra beds and highchairs are available, babysitting is free, and there is no charge for children aged 12 or under. However, the hotel is not designed with young kids in mind - there are antiques and lots of steps, and the pool is not walled off. Moreover, other guests are often - quite understandably - the type that would prefer children are seen and not heard. This makes it a slightly trying place in which to have a toddler or a crawler. Bringing a newborn babe would be less of a handful, and kids over 8 would enjoy the local activities and staff can arrange excursions.
Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)
Chamber Rooms can fit 1 extra bed and 2 baby cots; Suites and The Garden House can all fit 2 extra beds and 2 baby cots
Free babysitting on offer
Baby cots, highchairs
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
Board games, children's books, free cricket lessons
Visits to a local wildlife sanctuary