The Fort Printers

Galle & Environs, Sri Lanka Book from Book from £124 per night

Cool, calm and collected: a boutique retreat within the fascinating Unesco-listed Galle Fort
This elegant mansion in Galle Fort is the perfect Sri Lankan retreat-from-the-heat. Behind its teak doors are spacious and airy interiors with high ceilings, a huge lounge with oversized sofas and large boho bedrooms, some with beautiful vistas across the rooftops of Galle. More private residence than hotel, groups or families can rent a whole suite in the Main Hotel or in the 2 stylish wings: one next door and one just across the street.

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.

Highs

  • 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

Lows

  • 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

November to April has the best weather in this part of Sri Lanka; May to October is the rainy season. There is a reduction in rates at the house between February and December. Like anywhere in Sri Lanka the Christmas and New Year season is busy and should be booked well in advance.

Our top tips

Head to the waterside during the morning and watch the fisherman setting up their stalls by the small port, where kingfishers create bright blue flashes as they dart into the sun-lit waters

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
Family
Foodie
Wedding
  • Boutique Hotel & Villa
  • 13
  • Breakfast (+ other meals on request)
  • All ages 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
Room:

Rooms

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.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Cots Available
  • Dishwasher
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Microwave
  • Oven
  • Safe box
  • Terrace
  • Washing machine
  • WiFi

Eating

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.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Children's meals
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Dishwasher
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Microwave
  • Oven
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • 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
  • Swimming
  • Traditional cultures

Kids

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.

Best for:

All ages

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:

Babysitting is available by arrangement.

Baby equipment:

Cots are provided free of charge.

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

Children's meals:

The chefs tailor each day's meals to guests and will create dishes suitable for children on request.

Kid Friendly:

Location

The Fort Printers is set in Galle Fort in Galle, on the south west coast of Sri Lanka.

By Air:
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.

Getting around
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

Airports:

  • Colombo Bandaranaike International 150.0 km CMB

Other:

  • Beach 2.0 km
  • Shops 0.1 km
  • Restaurant 0.1 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 9 independent reviews from i-escape guests

9/10
Room
9/10
Food
9/10
Service
9/10
Value
9/10
Overall

An oasis of calm in the middle of bustling Galle fort. The staff were very helpful and the food was excellent.

10/10,

Wow we love the Fort Printers, wonderful facilities & rooms and staff and management couldn't be better. Everyone really cares that you really do enjoy your stay, totally relaxing and there's a kitchen near the outside lounge that you can make as many, teas, coffees and soft drinks as you please. I would have no hesitation in staying here again and would highly recommend to all if you want somewhere with character in the heart of Galle Fort.

10/10,

Peter, Tijana and the entire staff of this amazing hotel cannot be praised highly enough. Their professionalism and dedication to their guests is a model other hotels could learn a lot from. From the moment we arrived to the time we reluctantly left four days later we felt we had been treated as special, and that is about as much as any guest can ask for. The Headmaster’s Suite was a luxurious oasis of calm and the hotel’s food (we had breakfast there each morning, with one lunch and one dinner) was spectacular and far better than any other restaurant we ate at in the surrounding area. Congratulations to The Fort Printers on your management of one of the most sensational places we have ever been lucky enough to stay in. Needless to say, we will be back!

10/10,

What a week we spent at the Fort Printers. The family room they gave us was wonderful. The food, staff and look of the place were just wonderful. Fort Printers is the most perfect little boutique hotel.

10/10,

Our family of 5 (kids ranging in ages from 3 to 12yrs) had a great two nights/3 days at The Fort Printers in a couple of rooms in the Church Wing. Excellent location right in the middle of the Fort (a couple of minutes walk to everything), though the call to prayer at 5am was a surprise each morning (the Fort is mostly Muslim). But that didn't hamper our experience. The staff were great with our children, though all across Sri Lanka everyone loved the kids. Super accommodating of our 3 year olds requests for food outside of meal times (the chef produced a delicious loaf of warm baked baguette with butter that my son demolished). We ate one dinner and a complimentary 3 course lunch (an offer for booking through iescape) at the hotel and by far the best food we had in the Fort. The help-yourself kitchen for tea/coffee/cold water and lovely courtyards and living spaces with lounges and books to relax were nice touches that made for a home-away-from-home feeling. The architecture is divine - all clean lines and slick spaces in the restored Dutch buildings with spacious rooms, super high ceilings, efficient air con and fans, huge bathrooms and big tubs to soak in. Petar, the manager, was very friendly and helpful too and helped set the laid-back feel to the hotel.

9/10,

Wonderful small hotel in centre of Galle Fort with excellent hosts and great service. We stayed in a quirky room in the main hotel with amazing original floorboards, great view, comfy bed and lovely floor seating area. Dressing room / bathroom was cleverly designed around the old buildings structure - although the noise from the kitchen below did creep through there, the main bedroom was very peaceful. The staff couldn't have been more helpful, and the food was all excellent.

10/10,

Delightful service, location. Very quiet room, considering the central location. Galle was bad for mozzies in May and the hotel was no exception.

10/10,

In a holiday full of lovely hotels and staff this was our favourite. The buildings are beautiful, perfectly furnished and thoughtfully just equipped. Our free i-escape lunch was delicious so we ate dinner at Fort Printers too. An upgrade free of charge to the Pedlars suite was very kind but all the rooms looked lovely. Galle is a relaxing town to explore with lots of fascinating shops and restaurants.

10/10,

We sadly didn't really enjoy our stay at the Fort Printers and were glad we had only chosen to stay there one night. It started off very well with a really tasty lunch and a tour of the hotel by the manager. The rooms were basic but we understood they are limited to what can be done to the space design wise, however they could do a lot lot more to make it feel more luxurious. There were no face or hand towels in the bathroom. We had one towel each and these were like using sandpaper. There was hardly any hot water in the evening and the following morning. The bed was really very hard and uncomfortable that we woke up with sore backs the next day and in general were really disappointed with the room. Next morning we came for breakfast, a plate of fruit was given to us and then we were asked if we wanted eggs and tomatoes. Good job we had the tomatoes or it would have just been two eggs and some toast.
No menu was provided for breakfast, no explanation of what you could have. Would go back for lunch but not to stay.

5/10,

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