The Dutch House

Galle & South Coast, Sri Lanka Book from

Reviewed by Philip Worman
An old Dutch merchant's house beautifully restored with just 4 suites, in the hills above Galle Fort
This U-shaped former merchant's home is a short walk from Galle's bustling town centre up Dickson Road; it dates from 1712 and previous incarnations also included a boys' orphanage. Sister property to The Sun House, which is all about clean elegance, the Dutch House itself has a more period feel, with ochre and yellow walls and red tiles, and has been lovingly restored and decorated. Antiques fill the 4 luxurious suites which look onto the central courtyard and croquet lawn. A substantial lush garden, dotted with twisting coconut trees, sun loungers and large day beds, leads to the infinity pool on a separate terrace area.

The villa is a tranquil and secluded spot from which to explore Galle; its colonial décor is superb, the service is discreet and the sumptuous bar/library has a copious spirits cabinet. It also has the air of a celebrity retreat – we stayed in the bedroom Sting used when he came to visit the area after the 2004 tsunami.

Highs

  • The infinity pool, shaded by flowering trees, looks out over the slopes to Galle
  • The four idiosyncratic suites are ideal for a group of friends and create an air of exclusivity
  • The food is delicious; breakfast and lunch is served here and dinner is eaten next door at The Sun House
  • The location is convenient for popping into Galle to explore its Fort, yet provides a peaceful and serene retreat from the dusty streets below
  • The service is charming and attentive

Lows

  • There's been a management change in late 2013; we have not had a chance to revisit since then
  • Galle (particularly around the Fort) can be prone to touts and con-artists
  • The walk from the town centre involves a steep hill
  • As all rooms open onto the gardens and dinners are communal, privacy can be limited

Best time to go

November to April are the driest months on the south coast, but bear in mind that December to March is the height of the tourist season, so you'll need to book accommodation well in advance. The best time for diving is December to February, when the water is calm and clear.

Our top tips

Galle makes an ideal base for exploring the temples, rainforests, tea plantations and wildlife reserves of southern Sri Lanka. Consider hiring a car and driver to make the most of your time – and if you want to travel in style, The Dutch House has a vintage Rolls Royce which guests can use (for an additional fee).

Great for...

Foodie
Honeymoon
Wedding
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique B&B
  • 4
  • Breakfast (+ other meals by arrangement)
  • Over 14s welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service
Room: V.O.C.

Rooms

The Dutch House has 4 suites with a classy, colonial décor of subdued ochres and browns, enlivened by splashes of modern art and heritage prints.

The largest is the Ball Room, situated at the farthest end of the 'U'. This is where Sting stayed and it's suitably grand, with rich red and green fabrics and an ornate candelabra. Its high ceilings and huge oak doors make it feel slightly like the inside of a church.

The V.O.C, named after the Dutch East India Company, is a similarly impressive suite with a private veranda. Its use of white linens and cream furnishings creates a light, airy feel.

The elegant Blue Room, accessed via the main lounge, has sweeping views of the croquet lawn and the pool beyond, while the Yellow Room opens onto the veranda at the base of the 'U'. These rooms are slightly darker than the others, but their blue and yellow silks and period furniture create a warm feel.

All rooms have four-poster beds, mosquito nets, air conditioning and CD players, and lead onto a private sitting room with sofas and writing desks. The ensuite bathrooms are spacious and fitted with showers and claw-footed bathtubs.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Cd player
  • Fan
  • Internet access
  • Mosquito net

Eating

Breakfast, served whenever you want, can be a full English with eggs, toast and marmalade, fruit shakes and tea, or fresh fruit platters, preserves and traditional Sri Lankan hoppers.

The staff can also prepare light lunches and snacks throughout the day. As with breakfast, you can eat in the garden, on the veranda, by the pool or in the privacy of your room.

Evening cocktails are served in the bar/library, before guests head over to next-door sister property The Sun House, renowned for some of the best food in Sri Lanka, for dinner. Meals are prepared by the resident chef and mix Western and Sri Lankan influences – dishes might include seafood with a lemongrass and ginger broth, tamarind-glazed Mahi-Mahi with tomato and pumpkin salad and fresh cocunuts with pineapple pancakes for dessert.

Three times a week there is also a Sri Lankan dinner party with spicy curries using local ingredients.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Room service
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Explore the UNESCO-listed town of Galle, built by the Portuguese and fortified by the Dutch in the 17th century – its layers of history are evident at every turn
  • Head into the town at sunset or sunrise for a beautiful stroll around the walls of the fort (you'll need a couple of hours for this)
  • For the less historically-minded, Galle is also a great place for shopping – new boutiques are springing up all the time so ask the staff for a list of recommendations
  • Check out the idyllic beaches along the coast, though be warned that some can be too rough for swimming. The waters further north at Unawatuna and Weligama are calmer
  • Amangala Spa in Galle Fort is a great place to have a massage. You’ll need to bluff your way inside if you haven’t used the hotel facilities
  • Live out the days of the Raj by playing croquet on the lawn before heading to the library for evening cocktails
  • Visit the local small towns and fishing villages for authentic colour and street markets – you may even spot the area's famous fishermen on stilts

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Fishing
  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Scuba diving
  • Shopping / markets
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Traditional cultures

Kids

Children under 14 are not permitted; the house is full of antique treasures and the concrete-edged pool drops off sharply into the jungle below.

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

9/
Rooms
7/
Food
10/
Service
7/
Value
9/
Overall

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