“An attractive and peaceful small hotel with a popular restaurant, in the heart of Galle's Old Fort”
Whichever you choose, Galle’s timeless streets are literally on your doorstep: jewellery shops spilling with gems; ancient ramparts for sunset walks; dusty antique shops selling old framed pictures of the Queen; buzzy restaurants and local cricket matches. Vibrant by day, sleepy at night, a bewitching blend of cobbled streets and hidden courtyards, it’s not hard to fall for Galle. And this collection of cool, airy rooms are a great base to do just that.
- Great value
- A pleasing blend of old colonial elegance and contemporary style
- Fresh flowers, crisp white sheets and lots of pillows on supremely comfortable beds - everything feels very well looked after
- Delicious food in Fortaleza's restaurant, drawing on Asian and English influences
- Under Natalie and Liam’s guidance the staff are very friendly and helpful, lending a family-run air to everything
- Galle is quiet after dark so don’t come here looking for nightlife
- Note, the buildings have quite different atmospheres - Fortaleza and Lighthouse Street are adults only, while Middle Street and Landesi welcome all ages
- Fortaleza guests do not have access to the communal spaces at the other properties
- Fortaleza's downstairs Turquoise rooms experience noise but are priced accordingly
Best time to go
Our top tips
Like all seaside towns, watch out for mosquitos; there are mosquito nets in the rooms but it's essential to bring repellent.”
- Boutique Hotel
- Restaurant (open daily)
- Welcome but not ideal
- Open all year
- Spa Treatments
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
Rooms are divided between Fortaleza, Middle Street, Lighthouse Street, Landesi and No.1 Court Square (all within a few doors of each other). Expect dark wooden floors, handmade beds draped with mosquito nets and an eclectic mix of authentic colonial fans alongside modern art and photography. Travel guides and fresh flowers give a classy feel, and everything is very clean and well looked after. Bathrooms are small but perfectly formed, with great showers and nice toiletries.
We stayed in Fortaleza’s large Master Bedroom, which had a beautiful carved wooden sofa and a daybed. Although it overlooked the street, Galle is very quiet at night and the whir of the air-conditioning meant we didn’t hear a thing. Bed linens were especially nice, with soft new sheets and lots of pillows. Fortaleza's Turquoise Rooms are downstairs and quite a bit smaller, looking onto the restaurant terrace. Some say they feel a bit claustrophobic but this is reflected in the price.
Middle Street and Landesi are 17th-century Dutch houses, transformed into chic, contemporary retreats. Guest rooms have a slightly more polished look, with indulgent bathrooms and enormous windows gazing over the interior terraces, gardens and lounges. We loved the Lighthouse Street rooms, which were bright and contemporary, with tropical art adorning the walls.
No.1 Court Square is a self-contained one-bedroom apartment overlooking Magistrates Square. Offering a more independent experience, this space spans 2 floors and includes a balcony, kitchenette and lounge. A real home-from-home.
- Air conditioning
- Coffee and tea tray (on request)
- Iron (on request)
- Mosquito net
Breakfast is served in Fortaleza's restaurant. Choose from eggs any way (try the coddled eggs with spinach), toast and fruit, delicious coffee. Fortaleza’s restaurant is then open for the rest of the day for lunch and dinner; it's a popular spot with locals and travellers.
Everything we ate was delicious. Essentially Liam and Natalie thought about what they’d like to cook, and made that their key criteria in choosing the menu. We thoroughly enjoyed chicken liver pate with toast, pickles and tomato chilli jam, followed by prawn fajitas with tomato and coriander salsa, then banoffee pie for dessert. The wine list is short and simple but does the trick, and the vibe is lovely and relaxed.
There are lots of other restaurants in Galle, ranging from traditional Sri Lankan curries at Hoppa on Pedlar Street to old-school colonial grandeur at the immaculate Galle Fort Hotel. The homemade ice creams at Pedlars’ Inn Cafe are not to be missed. Sublime.
- Restaurants nearby
- Vegetarian menu
- Take a tour of the Old Fort’s ‘secrets’ with a local guide
- Explore Galle's antique and bric-a-brac shops
- Have a massage in Galle Fort Spa, a couple of doors up from Fortaleza. It’s calm, sophisticated and super relaxing, and their locally made organic soap makes perfect take-home gifts
- Jump in a tuk-tuk and head to nearby beaches for a swim and lunch. Hotel guests have free access to a beach club in Talpe, which is a great place to unwind; alternatively Unawatuna and Mirissa beaches are both lovely, about 20 minutes away. Or buy a day pass to The Lighthouse to use their pool
- Watch cricket with the locals; it’s free and gives a charming view of Galle life
- Learn to cook Sri-Lankan style in a villa outside Galle, surrounded by paddy fields. Afterwards, have a full-on colonial tea and visit the local temple; Natalie can arrange
- Middle Street guests can join an early morning yoga practice on the first-floor terrace, attend cookery classes and unwind in the property's guest-only walled garden
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Cooking classes
- Historical sites
- Museums / galleries
- Private guided tours
- Well being
- Whale watching
The rooms at Fortaleza are suitable for 12+ year olds; Lighthouse Street accepts 10+ year olds; rooms at Middle Street and Landesi are suitable for all ages.
Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)
Family friendly accommodation:
Middle St and Landesi rooms are suitable for all, though families with babies will have to bring their own baby cots.
Fortaleza is set in Galle's Old Fort, on the southwest coast of Sri Lanka. Its rooms are spread over 5 buildings: the main Fortaleza hotel (where the restaurant is), Middle Street, Lighthouse Street, Landesi and No.1 Court Square, all within a few minutes' walk.
Colombo Bandaranaike (150km) is the closest international airport. Sri Lankan Airlines runs a convenient air taxi service from Colombo airport to Koggala Lake, a few km away. From here you can take a taxi into Galle.
It takes about 2 hours by car to reach Galle from Colombo; if your flight arrives in daylight hours you may wish to make your way on the slow but scenic train. If coming from Kandy allow a long day's drive. You can park on the street outside.
If you want to hire a driver and car, enquire through our Tailormade Tour Operator; they can collect you at the airport when you land, drive you down to Galle, then drive you on after your stay if you wish. Alternatively, staff at Fortaleza can arrange a tuk-tuk or a car with a driver for day trips.
Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.com.
More on getting to Sri Lanka and getting around
- Colombo Bandaranaike International 150.0 km CMB
- Koggala 10.0 km
- Beach 2.0 km
- Shops 0.1 km
- Restaurant 0.1 km