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Nestled within the historic ramparts of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Galle Fort, the Galle Fort Hotel stands as a testament to the rich colonial heritage and serene beauty of Sri Lanka. This boutique hotel, renowned for its impeccable blend of history and luxury, offers travellers the experience of comfort and culture.
The Hotel within Galle Fort offers the perfect base for exploring the rich history and culture of Galle. Its cobbled streets, lined with boutiques, cafes, and art galleries, are steeped in history. This offers a glimpse into the life of the fort through the centuries. The hotel is also a short walk from the iconic Galle Lighthouse and the stunning coastline, where you can witness breath taking sunsets over the Indian Ocean.
The Hotel traces its origins to the 17th century. Originally built as the residence of a Dutch commander, the property exudes the architectural finesse of the Dutch colonial era. The Dutch East India Company, having wrested control of Galle from the Portuguese in 1640, left an indelible mark on the landscape.
During the British era, the hotel was a warehouse and residence of renowned gem merchants.
Stepping into the Hotel is stepping back in time. The property’s architectural integrity has been meticulously preserved. The façade, adorned with Dutch colonial elements such as gables and pillared verandas, reflects the architectural aesthetics of the 17th century. The distinctive blend of European and South Asian influences in the architecture serves as a poignant reminder of Galle’s multicultural history.
The original features, including the ornate wooden doors, high ceilings, and arched windows, have been painstakingly restored. The colonial-era furniture, with its intricate carvings and charm, graces the rooms and common areas. The hotel reopened on 23 February 2022 after a two-year restoration. The heritage restoration was done in conjunction with the Sri Lankan Ministry of Archaeology to retain architectural integrity.
As I wandered through the Hotel, I couldn’t help but feel the weight of history. The property has borne witness to the ebb and flow of centuries, from the Dutch colonial period to the subsequent British rule and beyond. Every inch of the property seemed to whisper tales of maritime conquests, colonial intrigues, and the evolution of Galle into a melting pot of cultures.
One of the most commendable aspects of the Galle Fort Hotel is its commitment to restoration excellence. The restoration process, undertaken with great care and expertise in 2003, aimed not just at preserving the physical structure but at reviving the spirit of the past. The restoration adhered to international preservation standards as it is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Our accommodation was a two-level Loft Suite, which blended the old-world charm of its colonial architecture with contemporary luxury. The room transported me to a bygone era from its large double wooden entrance doors to the four-poster bed. The high wooden ceilings and large windows invite natural light to bathe the spacious interiors. The suite is equipped with air conditioning, Wi-Fi and a mini-bar.
Our room opened up to the central courtyard where you are greeted with large verandas overlooking a pool overhung by a beautiful frangipani tree.
The Galle Fort Hotel extends its commitment to history into its culinary offerings. We had dinner and breakfasts at the hotel. The menu, is a fusion of international and Sri Lankan flavours. It pays homage to the region’s history as part of the famous Spice Route. The Veranda, with its outdoor setting, offered a more casual dining option to the main dining room and gave us a perfect view over the courtyard.
We also spent early evenings during our two night stay enjoying a sunset cocktail at Ropewalk, the hotels bar. The bar has been named as one of the Top 20 Bars in Sri Lanka by Conde Nast Travel. It is definitely worth enjoying a cocktail or two as you sit on the front veranda of the hotel, watching the hustle and bustle of the street.
In conclusion, the Galle Fort Hotel transcends the conventional definition of a luxury hotel. It is not merely a place to rest; it is a living heritage, a testament to Galle’s multifaceted past. My stay at the Galle Fort Hotel was a journey through time, where every architectural detail, every piece of furniture, and every interaction with the staff became a chapter in the unfolding narrative of Galle’s history.
I will carry with me, not just memories of a beautiful hotel, but a profound appreciation for an establishment that has mastered the delicate art of preserving the past while embracing the present. Galle Fort Hotel is more than a place; it is a portal to history.
The Galle Fort Hotel is definitely the perfect place to stay, if you are planning a stay in Galle.