“Cool, calm and collected: a boutique retreat within the fascinating Unesco-listed Galle Fort”
Most buildings within the old Dutch quarter of Galle Fort have a story to tell, and The Fort Printers is no exception. Dating back to the 18th century, it was first a college and later the home of a traditional printing company. After a renovation by husband and wife Dorine and Shahzad, it's now a subtle combination of modern design and original features (tiles, floorboards and balustrades) against a backdrop of whitewashed walls and muted tones, infused throughout with an air of calm. The shady courtyard offers a welcome refuge after a hot day's sightseeing: cool off in the outdoor pool or enjoy Mediterranean-inspired alfresco dining.
- Large comfortable rooms with understated (but unquestionable) style
- Wonderful chef-prepared meals, including lots of fresh seafood, tailored to suit guests' preferences
- Great views of Galle from the upper hallways and some of the rooms
- Warm, personal service and the feeling that you're staying in an elegant private residence
- Excellent location right in the centre of the fort district, yet away from the hustle and bustle
- The pool is rather small and set beneath a frangipani tree; it's great for cooling off but leaves do tend to fall in
- There is little outside space, although plenty of room for dining
- Two of the church wing rooms are next to the road which can be noisy in the morning
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Boutique Hotel & Villa
- Breakfast (+ other meals on request)
- All ages welcome
- Open all year
- Outdoor Pool
- Spa Treatments
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
Upstairs in the main hotel building a wide shuttered gallery leads to 4 former college rooms. The History, Geography and Arts rooms are light and airy, thanks to high-beamed ceilings and large windows, looking out towards Galle. Beds are on raised platforms covered with silk bedspreads and cushions. Our favourite room, the Headmaster's Suite, overlooks the pool. You can see the Galle lighthouse from your kingsize bed and there's a cosy seating area with daybeds – perfect for children – as well as a separate bathroom.
Downstairs in the courtyard, the Prefect’s Suite has a large, modern bathroom with a bathtub (the rooms in the main building have showers only) and polished cement floors.
In a separate annexe, connected to the main hotel via the courtyard, the Church Street Wing has a further 5 suites. The style is modern but classic and bathrooms are particularly luxurious with walk-in showers and freestanding bathtubs.
Just across a small quiet street, the Pedlar Street Wing is also modern in style. The 3 suites – one on the ground floor and 2 upstairs, one of which is accessed by a floating staircase – have wooden or polished concrete floors and natural décor.
Each wing has a communal living and dining space, plus a well-equipped kitchen, and guests can move freely between the communal spaces of all 3 buildings.
- Air conditioning
- Cots Available
- Extra beds
- Full kitchen
- Safe box
- Washing machine
The food here is excellent – it was owner Shahzad's original idea to open a restaurant, so guests benefit from his passion. Fresh ingredients are key and the food served (either in the dining room or on the veranda) is healthy, colourful and well presented.
The chefs tailor the daily menu to guests' preferences, creating spicy Sri Lankan curries, fresh seafood and Mediterranean-inspired meals. Typical dishes include seared tuna with capsicum, citrus risotto with garlic prawns and couscous stew with calamari, as well as imaginative tapas and soups, such as green gazpacho with pomegranate seeds and coriander. While the savouries are tasty and low-fat, the desserts are sinful – slabs of rich chocolate cake and apple strudels. The wine – mainly reasonably priced options from Australia – is also good, and the cocktails are superb.
The chefs bake wonderful bread and croissants for breakfast. You can also choose from pancakes, fruit, eggs, yoghurt and fresh fruit smoothies.
There are no set mealtimes – simply discuss with staff when you would like to eat.
- Children's meals
- Dinner by arrangement
- Full kitchen
- Lunch by arrangement
- Restaurants nearby
- Room service
- Vegetarian menu
- Galle Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a beautiful and intriguing place to explore. Don’t miss a sunrise (or sunset) stroll around the walls (2.5km).
- Wander around the Fort's cobbled, labyrinth-like streets; the National Museum on Church Street has a small collection of Dutch and Singhalese artifacts and there is a fully restored Dutch Reformed Church
- Visit the working Buddhist Temple on Rampart Street to gain an insight into Sri Lankan religious life
- Browse the small boutiques which are springing up around Galle Fort: Start at AA Ibrahim's for unusual necklaces, belt buckles and made-to-order rings; move on to Mimimango for Indian clothes and shoes; and try Elephant House for homeware and cards
- If you want to spend some time by the beach, head to Unawatuna (4km from Galle) for sundowners on the sand or visit trendy Weijia to socialise with eccentric expats
- Book an in-suite Swedish or Ayurvedic massage or work your way through the library while lazing in the hammock
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Historical sites
- Museums / galleries
- Shopping / markets
- Traditional cultures
Children are very welcome by prior arrangement. There are no accommodation charges for children under 12 years old sharing a room with their parents, which can provide considerable savings.
Family friendly accommodation:
The Headmaster's Suite has day beds which are comfortable for 2 children. Futons or mattress beds can be supplied in all other rooms; the large Prefect's Suite is most suitable for this.
Babysitting is available by arrangement.
Cots are provided free of charge.
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
The chefs tailor each day's meals to guests and will create dishes suitable for children on request.
The Fort Printers is set in Galle Fort in Galle, on the south west coast of Sri Lanka.
Colombo Bandaranaike International (150km away) is the closest airport – click on the links below for a list of airlines serving it.
From the Airport
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. The Fort Printers can arrange airport transfers – see Rates.
Alternatively, you can catch the Sri Lankan Airlines air taxi service to Koggala Lake, where you can pick up a taxi to Galle.
Staff 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
- Beach 2.0 km
- Shops 0.1 km
- Restaurant 0.1 km