Located at the heart of the Galle Fort, the Fort Bazaar is a great example of a beautiful transformation — from a derelict 17th-century merchant’s house into a boutique hotel infused with a colonial chic and contemporary vibe.
Galle is a popular destination and features on many an itinerary of those who travel south of Colombo to some of Sri Lanka’s best beaches. Occupying a small peninsula on the southwest edge of the island, the Galle Fort was built in the 16th century by the Portuguese and fortified by the Dutch in the 17th century. Today it’s a self-contained heritage site with a special character.
Of past and present
With the address on Church Street, the Fort Bazaar not only is the ideal base from which to explore the walled town. For us, it also embodies its spirit and atmosphere.
By imbuing the carefully renovated property with modern aesthetics, the architects and designers of the hotel gave it an ambiance of relaxed luxury. The interiors expertly blend colonial and mid-century styles, with an undertone of Middle Eastern motifs. A restrained color palette adds to an elegant, cool feel.
And while the building once might have been occupied by the merchants of spice, tea, and gems, today the chambers and spaces of the place feature facilities deserving of Galle’s hippest boutique hotel.
From rooms to spa
Entering from the street, it’s difficult not to admire the lovely veranda, enclosed within the deeply recessed arches. The elegant furniture, subtle patterns, and pastel colors are harbingers of the style inside. The porch spans the length of the facade and links the coffee shop and the restaurant.
The upper floors of the mansion contain spacious suites and a pretty library, overlooking a flagstone courtyard — which is the central feature of the hotel. Flanked by two stories of guest rooms and partially capped by canopies of old trees, the yard is the main thoroughfare here, but it also serves as a venue for the Afternoon Tea — which, this being the old Ceylon, is an important part of the day.
Not only the guest rooms surround this pretty space. A 10-seater private cinema and a luxurious spa are tucked towards the far end, and a large outdoor swimming pool is being built there too, to be opened in the future.
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Galle and beyond
Awaiting exploration by the visitors of the Galle Fort are the historical churches, temples, museums and the well-preserved walls — all only steps away from the Fort Bazaar hotel. But the heritage of the place is only one part of the experience.
What makes the town literally like no other in Sri Lanka is the heavy emphasis placed on good interior design and western vibe in its countless cafés, restaurants and boutique shops. They contribute to an atmosphere that is really quite different from elsewhere on the island.
All that, combined with the unhurried pace and relaxed ambiance, makes Galle Fort a great destination for a few slow days — and the lovely Fort Bazaar makes it more tempting still.