The last stop on our amazing Sri Lanka trip was Galle – a town located on the island’s Southern coast, about 2 hours from the Colombo airport. The historical part of the town lies within the boundaries of a 17th century fort, a protected UNESCO World Heritage site like Sigiriya.
We made this an overnight stop specifically to have a chance to stay at Amangalla – the hotel commonly referred to as the “Grande Dame” of Galle. In 2005, the Aman luxury hotel brand converted the complex into one of its unique heritage properties, fully preserving its architectural and design spirit.
The Main House
The 17th century Dutch colonial complex was originally built to house the Dutch commanders and their staff, and was subsequently converted to The New Orient Hotel, which operated for about 140 years.
Without a doubt my favourite space of the common areas was the library, where after dinner we enjoyed some great cocktails and a game of backgammon.
The entrance to the hotel is through a spacious veranda looking out on the tree-lined main road leading into a great hall, known as “Zaal” – a nod to its Dutch colonial legacy.
The hall can be used to relax with a craft cocktail from the bar, or enjoy a live music performance in the evenings. Upon arrival we had some afternoon tea at the Zaal, which I am going to be completely honest was my least favourite part of our stay.
I think the photos are pretty self-explanatory as to why this is the chillest place EVER! A beautiful sanctuary under the picturesque trees makes for the perfect spot to enjoy a book – a delightfully lazy afternoon.
The property currently has around 30 spacious rooms and suites overlooking either the Fort’s street, nearby Dutch colonial Groote Kerk (Great Church), or the property’s 200-year-old gardens.
All rooms have four-poster beds, large French windows, and the original polished Burmese teak floorboards. They have an elegant minimalist interior design, with distinctly colonial-inspired furnishings like pettagama chests and planters’ chairs. Ours was looking out to the gardens with close proximity to the pool and the spa.
One of the many ways Aman made us feel special, in addition to the nightly gifts left on our pillows, was the stunning handmade fan which they gave us as a departure gift – I have to admit it does make it a little less sad to leave. It is, of course, now prominently displayed in our home and reminds me of Galle every time I look at it 🙂
I know I am going a little overboard here with a special section on the bathroom, but at Amangalla my bathroom obsession reached new heights 🙂
The bathroom suite is beyond cool! As I have already mentioned I am a fan of standalone bath tubs and this one did not disappoint. With a separate shower room and a spacious double-vanity area it was basically the size of our bedroom 🙂 I am not even going to try and describe the Aman-branded products because they are just something else.
Amangalla’s spa facility has its own name – The Baths – and is known for its tailored Ayurvedic treatments.
Prior to our massages, we thoroughly enjoyed one of the private hydrotherapy suites, equipped with individual hot and cold plunge pools, as well as a sauna and steam room. Not going to lie, even if we had skipped the treatments that would have been relaxing enough on its own. The use of the hydrotherapy suites is included in the hotel rate and all you need to do is call ahead and reserve one.
The Galle Fort is the best-preserved colonial fortification in Asia and is a charming time capsule which can only be fully appreciated by walking down its quaint streets and taking in the colourful atmosphere. Accidental time travel is practically unavoidable, so get ready! 😉