Fort Bazaar

Galle Fort, Galle & South Coast, Sri Lanka Book from

Reviewed by Emma Boyle
Fresh and contemporary hotel with a Moorish vibe and superb food, mere footsteps from Galle Fort’s historic sights
The Fort Bazaar Hotel sits in a historic heritage building much like others in the 17th-century Galle Fort, but the resemblances stop there. Light, modern and chic inside, this brand-new opening (January 2016) creates an ambiance that's entirely its own. Drawing upon the Fort’s Moorish history, its interiors have a distinctly Middle Eastern focus and feature eye-catching floor tiles, ethnic mosaic cushions and pendant lamps. The front of the hotel, home to a restaurant and bar, dates back over a century and is characterised by deeply recessed arches and a long verandah. Beyond, beautiful standard rooms flank a convivial flagstone patio whilst roomy suites are on an upper floor. At night, glass tea lights sprinkled among cushioned banquettes bring this bewitching courtyard magically to life. Hidden around the corner is a luxurious spa, a 10-seater cinema and a surprisingly large pool with a sun-dappled timber deck - all perfect for post-sightseeing relaxation.

The Church Street Social is already gaining a name for itself as one of the best restaurants on the south coast, and attracts day-trippers, locals and hotel guests alike. As for the unbeatable location: Galle Fort's sprinkling of museums, churches, temples, boutiques and cafés are literally steps away.


  • We loved the fresh individuality and stylish interiors; there's nothing else like it in Galle Fort
  • The Middle Eastern food is exceptional, inventive and varied
  • Both the restaurant and bar are air-conditioned, which we relished, and you can also dine in the open-air
  • Romantic yet family friendly; a clever mix
  • Priced very well considering the hotel's beauty, and rates include breakfast, afternoon tea and early evening cocktails


  • At the time of writing (June 2016), the pool, spa and cinema are set to open in a couple of months, but in the meantime the hotel is running special offers to compensate, and construction noise isn't a problem
  • The hotel is also waiting for its liquor licence, but you can BYO
  • Expect some daytime road noise, but the nights are quiet

Best time to go

December to April are the driest months on the south coast, but this is the height of the tourist season so you'll need to book well in advance. May and June see plenty of showers but still have dry and sunny days; July and August are pleasant but the Indian Ocean is rough; October and November are generally very wet and humid. Availability may be limited during the annual January Galle Literary Festival.

Our top tips

By late afternoon, Flag Rock in the Fort comes alive with kamikaze kids flinging themselves off the ramparts into the rocky shallows of the sea for a few rupees - always an entertaining show!

Great for...

City Style
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 18
  • Restaurant & bar (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Bicycles Available
  • Complimentary afternoon tea


All rooms and suites have Balinese four-poster beds, cable TV, coffee machines and contemporary Scandi-style furnishings. The Bazaar bedrooms flank either side of an alfresco courtyard and come with ensuite shower rooms. Those on the upper floor are a little more private. To the rear of the courtyard are the Banyan bedrooms, whose smaller interiors are compensated by tiled balconies or terraces. Both Bazaar and Banyan bedrooms can be interconnected with another bedroom to form the Family Suites.

We stayed in an Upper Suite, on the first floor of the hotel, opposite the library lounge. It was incredibly spacious and private, with a kingsize bed, a lounge beneath soaring lime-washed ceilings, a dressing area, and a beautiful ensuite bathroom with a rain shower and tub. Folding doors led onto a rooftop street-view balcony.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Coffee maker
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • Ipod dock
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi


The Church Street Social's menu draws upon Middle Eastern flavours for dinner, alongside an all-day menu of international dishes using sustainably sourced produce. Standouts include 16-hour slow-cooked lamb, zesty tagines, hearty local curries and heaped sharing platters of seafood and cured meats. In-house guests can dine in the air-conditioned dining room, which is also open to the general public, or more privately in the courtyard or beside the pool.

For lunch we tried the pomegranate and quinoa salad, followed by a delicious sous vide pork tenderloin with apple yam puree. We couldn’t resist a dessert and opted for a divine coconut lime éclair with toasted coconut crumble. Dinner was terrific, too. Between us we tried the kingfish ceviche, the Peking duck rolls, the lamb tagine, the Balinese chicken and a sweet vanilla tart. All were excellent.

If you can tear yourself away, there are numerous restaurants in Galle Fort. Staff can advise.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Children meals
  • Coffee maker
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cooking classes
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
Eating: <i>Church Street Social</i>


  • Wind up and down the Fort's café- and boutique-flanked lanes then end up on the ramparts for sunset. Or opt for a private tour with a local guide, which will give you a fascinating insight
  • Take a cookery lesson from The Church Street Social's amazing chefs
  • Treat yourself to gems from one of the Fort’s renowned jewellers, or try your hand at Sri Lankan mask making with a local artist
  • Explore the inland scenery on a guided bicycle tour, winding through the quietest back lanes. Or travel upriver by kayak
  • Enjoy a tea-tasting session in the Fort with Withered Leaves, or make for Tittigala where you can wander through a lowland tea plantation, take a tour of the factory and sample a cuppa
  • Take the train to Bentota to visit 2 magical gardens: Geoffrey Bawa’s expansive Lunuganga and his brother Bevis’ more low-key Brief

    Activities on site or nearby include:

    • Art classes
    • Boat trips
    • Cooking classes
    • Cycling
    • Fishing
    • Hiking
    • Historical sites
    • Museums / galleries
    • Nightlife
    • Private guided tours
    • Scuba diving
    • Shopping / markets
    • Snorkelling
    • Surfing
    • Traditional cultures
    • Whalewatching


Families are warmly welcomed and there's various accommodation to suit. The 10-seater cinema is designed to keep kids amused, and young ones will also enjoy the pool. Travel cots are complimentary; there's a small surcharge for extra beds (2-12 year-olds).

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Toddlers (1-4 years), Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

The 2-bedroom Family Suites have interconnecting kingsize and twin bedrooms (shared shower bathroom). The Upper Family Suite has a kingsize bedroom and a mezzanine floor with twin beds in its living room so is ideal for older children (shared bathroom with separate tub and shower). A baby monitor will stretch from the restaurant to the Upper Suites.


On request.

Baby equipment:

  • Travel cots
  • High chairs

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

Kids' menu including pizza, pasta and other international options.

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Beaches
  • Walking around the ramparts
  • Watching local cricket matches

Families Should Know:

The hotel is set on a few different levels and outdoor space consists of a tiled courtyard and timber deck; there is no lawn or garden.


  • Airport: 3 hours' drive (or a 25-minute air taxi from Colombo)
  • Shops: on the doorstep
  • Hospital: 2km (Hemas, a private hospital)
Kid Friendly:

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