More about Galle Fort Hotel
Really enjoyed Galle Fort Hotel
We stayed here in March having already spent 2 months travelling around Asia. It was a wonderful place. We definitely intend going back and emailed all our friends while we were away to recommend it.
We had had a problem trying to book a loft suite online but Karl sorted everything out by telephone and sms and upgraded us to the Grand Suite.
OK, so it's not cheap by Sri Lankan standards and no accomodation is provided for one's driver but it was a terrific haven for us.
The tables by the pool are reserved for hotel guests (see other review) and yes, Chris and Karl have 2 little pet dogs who roam about, but, even though neither of us likes dogs, we found them to be no problem at all.
Both Karl and Chris make the effort to get to know all the guests and offer whatever assistance or advice they may need. They're not at all pushy and are quite happy to let you do your own thing as well.
We often arrived down for breakfast long after everyone else had finished and there was never any problem with the waiting staff serving us.
We also found the housekeeping staff to be very friendly and obliging.
It is also worth availing of Lesathe's skills as a masseur.
This was definitely the best place we have stayed in our time in Australasia. Go there and see for yourself!
Galle Fort Hotel - world's greatest hotel
Galle Fort Hotel is a truly unique place. We found it in Conde Nast Traveller and it lived up to every bit of its low key, underadvertised hype. Physically/architecturally it is hard to fault - the efforts that went into creating it were stupendous, and were not wasted. Karl and Chris, who run it, are integral to the atmosphere in a wonderfully stylish and relaxed way. They are around and great company, but you can see as much or as little of them and other guests as you want.
They have completely won over the local community and its understandable wariness of larger than life newcomers and are now pillars of that same community, keeping everything as local as possible from the food to the materials and the staff. It is the kind of place that attracts interesting people looking for something different, but you could just as easily hole up for a week and do your own thing. No forced jollity here - any jollity is very much for real.
The 14 rooms and suites are wonderful - understated but very comfortable and effortlessly stylish, even the cheapest 'garden rooms' that we stayed in. No tellies, which is such a blessing, but huge attention to detail, right down to the drain gratings in the showers and the bath robes, which were both designed by Chris himself. They combine perfectly modern hotel design with very traditional colonial Sri Lanka. You wouldn't leave your room were it not for the gorgeous pool and the other wonders of Sri Lanka. After a long day at the beach or exploring around Galle, however, GFH is a blissful haven to retreat to.
The food is a highlight - Chris is the ultimate arbiter of it, albeit not always hands-on in the kitchen - all the chefs are excellent. It's a real blend of all the best things about Sri Lankan food and the rest of Asia. We ended up eating there 6 nights out of 8 and did not come close to tiring of the fare.
The staff are charming and efficient without being boringly so - less obsequious than in comparable hotels, but much more human. Between them they help create an atmosphere that transcends star ratings - GFH would not be 5 star, because you do not have a fax machine or a minibar in your bedroom. It is far too cool to be restricted by such things! Star ratings are for hotels that have something to prove. GFH has nothing to prove. It is what it is and it would be almost impossible not to fall in love with it.
Probably the best hotel we've ever stayed in.
My favourite hotel
A couple of years ago I read a review of this hotel and ever since I have wanted to go there. I've been a lot of places in Asia, and always enjoy the ones that have a post-colonial resonance (Goa, Banda, Melacca). Galle Fort Hotel. and the whole of the Fort, combines the charm of modern Sri Lanka with the atmosphere of a bygone era.
The service is superb, the food delicious, the sheets sublime. It's small enough that you feel part of the family, but the attention to detail is phenomenal. Every night frangipani flowers are laid out on your bed, but every night the pattern is different. You just don't get that at a big hotel...
A place that manages to be comfortable and welcoming, and stylish as well. I'd be back in a flash.
A homely base from which to explore Galle and the Elephant Polo!
Date: 18 Feb 2006
Reviewer: Lynn Teresa Roslan
The Galle Fort Hotel is a home from home at the heart of Galle Fort in picturesque Galle, Sri Lanka. The hotel owners, Karl and Chris, will charm the pants of you whilst encouraging you to become part of their rapidly expanding fun loving family of staff and guests. Life revolves around the verandah where meals are taken al fresco and entertainment is provided by Max and Chin (you have to go there to find out who those characters are!) You can equally relax quietly in the antique-laden lounge.
There are no TVs in the rooms nor broadband internet connection, so don't expect to do a lot of online work during your stay. Rooms are minimalist but functional with a nice hot shower. If you are missing anything the staff will quickly and unobtrusively get it for you. Chris is a great oriental chef - his Peranakan and Thai creations made me feel right at home. Karl and Chris can also accommodate larger groups of friends in villas such as Hayleys, a stone's throw from the hotel. Galle Fort Hotel is a 10min tuk tuk ride away from the grounds of the elephant polo tournament that takes place just outside the fort wall in the last week of January. If you mention that you are supporters of the Tickle and the Ivories, the best loved elephant polo team, [--, I am sure that Karl and Chris will recognise your dedication in some special way!
An oasis and a home away from home. Galle was our second last stop dureing our trip to Sri Lanka and after experiencing Sri Lankan roads for 2 weeks or so it was nice to stop and be pampered at the Galle Fort Hotel for four days. If you wanted to sit around and do nothing, that was fine with the staff. If you wanted to explore Galle and the surrounding area the staff could point you in the right direction without a problem.
I was very impressed with several things during our stay but having the hassle of bartering with tuk tuk drivers taken away by Karl and Chris providing a service I've never experienced in any of my Asian travels was great.... reputable drivers waiting at the front door with 'set price' charges which were very realisitic and affordable. The tuk tuks were clean and well maintained. A suggestion sheet of things to do and see in and around Galle was placed stratgically in teh tuk tuk on Galle Fort Hotel letter head (great PR and made you appreciate the effort the boys have gone to to make your stay in Galle hassle free).
The rooms were excellent. All rooms have their own 'theme' but are intrinsically Sri Lankan with modern touches and character added. Brilliant beds and manchester.....bed sheets are available for sale because you'll fall in love with the feel of them on your bed!
Food was excellent...fresh daily and wide rabing in choice. The all day dining options is a great idea. Set menu for evening meals changes every day but if you want a rice and curry or something that is not on the menu, chef can whip that up in no time at all. The flexibility offered by chef I found to be excellent.
No TV in the room but who cares when you're on holiday and staying in an oasis.
Karl, Chris and the staff at Galle Fort Hotel will make your stay there something special and really I couldn't recommend them highly enough.
a small hotel with soul
We were about to book for Morocco when we saw this hotel in the Gourmet Traveller Best of List and checked it out on Trip Advisor. The photos were a bit dissapointing and we almost forgot about it. And the reviews seemed a bit over the top.
But we had a look at the website and changed our minds.
We are just back and raving like the rest of the reviewers on here. This place has soul and is small and more special than even the website suggests. Nice mix of guests too and the sort of place where people talk to each other if they feel like it while others just hang back and have their own privacy.
Galle was a great if unlikely find as we had originally wanted to make the Grand Sri Lankan tour but worries about the latest bombs had made us write Sri Lanka off for another few years and choose Morocco instead. But Galle is 500 miles from the hostilities and where in the world is safe these days. And the LTTE hadn't targetted tourists it seems.
So we opted to spend fourteen days just in Galle Fort. It was a great choice as we saw tea plantations, released baby turtles into the sea, visited hans Hoeffer's garden where we saw about thirty different birds and a family of monkeys. The beaches are about ten minutes by tuk tuk from the Fort. Unawatuna and Weligama were the best. There was also a secluded swimming pool in the rainforrest ( with a few leaches) and a private beach below the temple at Rumaganga. Shopping was a pleasant suprise with quite a few galleries just opened in the Fort. The main attraction is the Fort itself of course and even though its a bit third world and there's rubbish and goats and some sad cats and dogs, it is quite amazing and once you come through the gates you feel like not much has changed in the last 300 years ... apart from moss and delapidation. More of a lost civilsation feel than a world heritage site but probably better for it in our opinion. We explored it each night at sunset after doing a trip in the morning and then lazing around the hotel pool most days or hanging out on the beach at the Lighthouse Hotel. There are so many renovations going on behind the facades of these little merchant houses that it won;t be long before this place is the coolest place for celebs to hang out.
The centre of this romantic little Fort is definitely this hotel. There are other places to stay but this one just seems to capture the feeling of the place. Its tucked away behind a deceptively simple facade and even though the central courtyard and reception rooms are grand in a theatrical and quite unexpected way, the feel is very laid back and relaxing and the staff are relaxed and helpful and all speak english.
The best thing is the food. Without doubt some of the best food we have ever eaten. Inventive, delicious and full of the most amazing perfumes and flavours; each night as amazing as the last. We had a lovely afternoon tea at the Aman up the road ( also stunningly beautiful but much larger) after a bizarre lunch there of apple and stilton salad. The Aman Spa is pure heaven though... the hydrotherapy well worth the expense!
But we kept going back home to the Galle Fort Hotel for dinner and ate there all but two nights even though they were happy to suggest lots of other places to dine.
When we booked all the suites were taken so we took a garden room which was gorgeous but we upgraded to a Loft Suite after three days when one became unexpectedly available. Worth it for the extra 40USD a night although the stairs to the bathroom might be a bit steep for some. Very romantic and probably the softest sheets I have ever slept in.
the road travel to Galle. We flew back by seaplane which was spectaular and much better.
mosquitoes... mostly at sunset ... take a deet based repellant
being your own cigarettes.. the brands on sale in Sri Lanka are about twenty years out of date... My Pop would be happy... his old brand was still on sale
The Galle Fort Hotel wine list could do with a few more really top end wines.. its a bit too Australian and although its great to have such an affordable and drinkable choice, the food deserves one or two really amazing wines for foodies.
You need to book early to get a suite... we peeked into the Porcelain and Admiral Ha suites and wish we could have booked them.
If you can't get into the Galle Fort Hotel ... make sure you book for dinner... they only do about 30 settings each night and even though guests automatically get a reserved table a few outside guests can get turned away if they run out of food. Kill to get a table on the verandah where guests automatically have a reservation each night.
GFH A hidden jewel
The Galle Fort Hotel (GFH)is a jewel we stumbled on as we just chose a hotel to stay within the fort , and did we hit gold. A stunningly restored colonial mansion its street simplicity belies the inner refined taste in its decor and restoration. Karl and Chris were wonderful, made us feel comfortable and at home and guided us with maps and suggestions like they were old friends. As someone mentioned the dinners were like house parties yet not many house parties would have food as superb as this. Still dreaming of the grilled king prawns with red thai chilli sauce and the espresso pannacotta which prompted us to not venture out the second night but eat there again!Relative to other restaurants the 2400 plus taxes and service may seem a bit high but the experience of a long drawn out gourmet meal overlooking the pool and courtyard is unbeatable. The staff are fantastic, attentive and courteous and always smiling and I feel sorry I did not go around and thank them personally , but goodbyes are always hurried. The Amangalle down the street may have a reputation but if you want a holiday to remember GFH is the place to stay , we are definitely going back. Lucky us, Bombay is only 2 hrs away !
Not worth the visit
Even though the hotel itself is pretty, the open drain in the bathroom/toilet permeated the room. The asian/fusion meal was not at all tasty and it woud have been nice to sit down to a Sri Lankan curry in the dining room that was described in their website - but it was closed. Missed the curry dinner. The tea served was a teabag that had been waved over the water and weak - tisk. We didn't find many boutiques in the fort - maybe they all vanished in Tsunami. I don't think the hike/drive here is worth while. A tuk tuk was recommended by proprietor for $3 an hour but you can certainly take the small walk around the fort - it is safe. You can hail a tuk tuk for much less. The Sri Lankans are very accomodating and will drive you anywhere.
Fantastic hotel - not sure about the atmosphere
Having visited the website we changed our plans to stay at this hotel when we visited Galle. The descriptions and photos on the site made this the most anticipated stop of our holiday to Sri Lanka and on first impressions it lived up to the hype. But following a badly handled misunderstanding on arrival the stay went downhill from there. The hotel itself is amazing and has been well renovated and the loft room we stayed in was stunning. The problem was with the atmosphere of the hotel which did not feel welcoming and I felt there was a degree of arrogance which if it remains will soon outweigh the stunning building. Overall we were very disappointed, probably because we expected so much which it failed to deliver on and everywhere else we stayed in Sri Lanka we were made to feel very welcome.
Galle, Sri Lanka
"Galle Fort Hotel"
Beautifully restored. Everybody were extremely pleasant, polite and friendly. These include the staffs and the people staying in the fort.
The food from the hotel restaurant were fresh and we enjoyed the breakfast that comes with fresh local fruit.
We had the most terrific sun rise and sunset moment in Galle fort. Beautiful Scenery and friendly dogs and cats. A cup of tea in one of the small guest house with an old couple enjoying the sunset moment is all we want for life at that moment. A stroll around the fort is never enough. Fresh Tuna by the local fisherman in the morning and old man selling vegetables by tricycle.