Occupying one of the grandest townhouses in the heart of the Galle Fort, Amangalla is part of the fabric of this historical destination. With a unique ambience and a decor of antique colonial furniture, four-poster beds and 300-year-old floors, the hotel ensures an enchanting experience.
Our journey in Sri Lanka took us from Tea Country to the Yala National Park, and as we turned back north we followed the coast to finally come to Galle, famed for the unique 17th-century Galle Fort, a Unesco World Heritage site. Here we knew exactly which hotel we definitely wanted to check in to. And this is how we arrived at Amangalla, a beautiful city hotel from the elite-resort operator Aman Resorts.
Originally built in 1684 as the headquarters of the Dutch commanders and their staff, the building at 10 Church Street was very soon transformed into the New Oriental Hotel, which for the next 140 years catered to the European passengers travelling between Europe and Sri Lanka.
Fast forward to the 20th Century, and the property was given a new lease on life, thanks to the luxury group Aman Resorts. Putting into the project all the experience and wisdom acquired in the creating dozens of resorts around the world, Aman hired architects and designers to turn the 17th-century building into a masterfully restored property. The result? High ceilings and whirring overhead fans, dark teak floors, an atmosphere of the colonial splendour… And a sense of history.
The historical credentials of Amangalla do not prevent the hotel from ensuring that its guests enjoy modern comforts, which most of us nowadays take for granted: air conditioning, in-room iPhone docks, luxury freestanding bathtub in the bathroom… as well as privacy and tranquillity, well matched by service tuned up to the world’s best five-star standards.
The hotel’s swimming pool is a standalone highlight. Surrounded by a well-maintained garden and flanked by old palm trees, it’s a great place to spend a slow afternoon. And if that wasn’t enough, more chances for a relaxing bliss are presented in the on-site spa, with its candlelit chambers and hydrotherapy pools.
Not to be missed are sundowners in the long balcony on the upper floor and the High Tea in the front veranda. Speaking of which, the meals are consistently excellent. We loved the spicy omelettes and egg hoppers, though in the end did not get to try the signature dish of the traditional curry.
Galle and beyond
The Fort was built as a fortified city that blended European architectural templates and South-East Asian styles. Today the place, still enclosed within the original walls and ramparts, charms with a very special vibe that sets it apart from other destinations in Sri Lanka. The town is full of historical churches, temples, museums — but also stylish cafés and boutiques. Striving to preserve the colonial origins, all the establishments here invest in good interior design and maintain the European vibe, combined with a tranquil, sleepy atmosphere.
Other than trinket shopping, lazying in cafes and taking leisurely walks on the fort walls there isn’t actually all that much to do in Galle. It’s a great place to slow down — and Amangalla is the perfect place to do just that.