Where to Stay in Galle, Sri Lanka

Where to Stay in Galle, Sri Lanka

Galle is not just a pretty place. Not only is it a vivid example of the various colonial influences on Sri Lanka, it is one of the few cities in Sri Lanka that has beautifully blended the old and the new. A day trip away from the white sands of Hikkaduwa and Unawatuna, it is fast becoming the go-to spot for visitors who are drawn to its architectural surprises, shopping for antiques, crafts or gems to its festivals including the Literary festival in February and to international cricket games.

There is no shortage of luxury accommodation in or near Galle. There are several upscale boutique hotels within the Fort, pampering resorts and picture-perfect villas along the coast in both directions.

Galle Fort Hotel

Once a rundown 17th century Dutch merchant’s house, the award-winning Galle Fort Hotel is one of the finest boutique hotels in Sri Lanka. Each of its 14 enormous rooms are different, some occupying two levels while its grand apartment with two ensuite king bedrooms is spaciously stretched across an entire floor. All rooms are tastefully decorated with Sri Lankan and Chinese antiques, exquisite linens and effortless style and guests are waited on by the smooth-as-silk staff. Its garden rooms sell out quickly and spa treatments are surprisingly inexpensive.

Dine on its elegant Asian fusion cuisine in the restaurant or al-frescoe. Once inside, the world feels shuttered away, but the hotel is surrounded by ancient streets and temples, and is only a 15 minute walk away from the Fort gates to the town of Galle. Rates range between US$160-US$250 per night.

The chic traveler to Galle sometimes prefer villas if they are looking for privacy and hands-on full service.

Dutch Hotel

Situated on a hill with sweeping views of Galle, the Dutch House is a beautifully restored and highly exclusive villa. Formerly occupied by a Dutch admiral, each of its four suites has a private garden, a bath-tub, a four-poster bed and living spaces tastefully decorated with Dutch antiques and contemporary art.

Play croquet on the law, unwind by its infinity pool, find a shady spot to curl up in or dine by twilight in the beautiful English garden. Rates go between $380-$475 per night per room.

Kahanda Kanda

To go further afield yet barely 25 minutes away from Galle is Kahanda Kanda, a villa overlooking the Kogalle Lake. Located on a sprawling 10-acre tea estate, there are five ensuite air-conditioned bedrooms equipped with every kind of comfort and fabulous hill views.

Kahanda Kanda has been described as tropical living at its best. Guests can play at being lotus eaters while lounging in its airy pavilion which is fringed by lily ponds. Do lap swims in its infinity pool and when hungry, dine on Sri Lankan and fusion dishes made from fresh produce grown on the working estate at a time of your choosing. Rates by the room are between US$345-US$450 per night.

Lighthouse Hotel

One of Sri Lanka’s most well known sons is architect Geoffrey Bawa who designed the 63 room Lighthouse Hotel resort. Located on the seafront west of Galle, it is a beautiful mix of Dutch colonial and modern design. Guests can opt for either deluxe rooms with ocean views, teak floors and old world charm and all the conveniences of a modern, upscale resort or one of three private suites, each of which are differently decorated.

Each suite has a private seating room, showers separate from the ensuite bathroom, a private balcony and a jacuzzi bath-tub.

Relax in its spa which offers both ayurvedic and aromatherapy treatments, or plunge into any of its two pools while kids paddle in their own shallow kiddies pool. With time on your hands, enroll in a Sri Lankan cooking class, explore the seashore with the resident naturalist or join in a tea tasting ceremony.