Located in one of the grandest townhouses in the heart of the Galle Fort, Amangalla is part of the fabric of a heritage destination in Sri Lanka, offering a tranquil and carefree time for anyone looking to soak up the Fort’s legendary atmosphere in luxury.
Our last journey in Sri Lanka took us from Tea Country to the Yala National Park, and as we turned back north we followed the coast, finally arriving at Galle. The city is famed for the unique 17th-century Galle Fort, designated in its entirety as a Unesco World Heritage site.
Here we knew exactly which hotel we wanted to check in to—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 traveling 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 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 splendor—and a deep sense of time and history.
The historic credentials of Amangalla do not prevent its guests from enjoying every modern comfort. The rooms are equipped with air conditioning, in-room iPhone docks, and luxury freestanding bathtub in the bathroom. Privacy and tranquillity of the hotel are 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. More chances for relaxation and pampering can be found 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 omelets and egg hoppers, and the signature dish of the traditional curry is also well worth recommending.
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Galle and beyond
The Fort was built as a fortified city that blended European architectural templates and South-East Asian styles. Today it is still enclosed within the original walls and ramparts, and much of the original architecture is preserved.
A charming, sleepy atmosphere sets Galle apart from other destinations in Sri Lanka. The town is full of historic 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.
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.