Best hotels in Galle, Sri Lanka

The beautiful and atmospheric city of Galle on Sri Lanka’s south coast has bucket loads of colonial charm. Impenetrable Galle Fort, built by the Portuguese in the 16th century; commanding Dutch architecture; winding lanes; and stunning sunsets over the Indian Ocean are enough to win over even the most seasoned traveller. This in turn has attracted an international crowd of creatives, who have made their mark too, bringing with them stylish boutiques, hip galleries and a scattering of beautifully restored hotels.
Galle Fort from the air. Photo: Shutterstock
Galle Fort from the air. Photo: Shutterstock


Popular places can fill up very quickly during peak season, so it’s well worth booking as far in advance as possible. Room rates vary somewhat throughout the year depending on the season and your bargaining skills, with prices sometimes dropping as much as 50 percent from April to September/October. Wherever you’re going, it pays to be aware of taxes. The government currently levies around 17 percent in a range of taxes on hotel rooms, while many places also add a 10 percent service charge. Check in advance to see what is and isn’t included in the quoted prices – an extra 27 percent added to your bill at the end of your stay in an exclusive boutique hotel may come as an unexpected, and not entirely pleasant, surprise. Why not save yourself the stress, and let one of Insight Guides' local experts create a tailor-made trip for you?


Amangalla

10 Church Street, Galle Fort; Tel: 091 223 3388

Occupying the sensitively restored premises of Galle’s famous old New Oriental Hotel, this establishment remains wonderfully faithful to the period character of its colonial predecessor, combining old-world colonial chic with the last word in contemporary luxury – a compelling combination, though at a hefty price. Rooms are elegant, high ceilinged and spacious, with views overlooking the lush gardens or the Fort; period antiques complete the picture. Traditional dining can be supplemented with a classic afternoon tea, a cocktail on the balcony or an indulgent, romantic private dinner by the poolside.


View from the bar at the Amangalla: Photo: Amangalla


Closenberg Hotel

11 Closenberg Road, Galle Harbour; Tel: 091 222 4313

The Closenberg is a time-warped old hotel in a palatial white villa of 1858, set in verdant tropical surroundings, with antique-furnished rooms and a beach-view extension. Public areas are full of period charm, while meals are served next to the exotic fernery gazebo. The Luna Terrace features a crescent-shaped infinity pool, underwater sound system, cocktail bar and sushi kitchen for late-night party animals, as well as hosting a selection of artistic and cultural events.


The Fort Printers

39 Pedlar Street, Galle Fort; Tel: 091 224 7977

The Fort Printers is a characterful boutique hotel in the very heart of old Galle, occupying the 18th-century barn-like building which formerly housed the town’s printing shop – plus two additional heritage villas added in 2013. The hotel’s 13 suites are little museum-pieces of Dutch colonial architecture, with creaking wooden floors and high beamed ceilings, the rather austere effect relieved by a generous dash of colourful fabrics and artworks. Delightful meals are served al fresco by the poolside or in the imposing dining room. A stay at The Fort Printers is included on Insight Guides' Sri Lanka – Culture and Coast trip.


The Headmaster's Room, at The Fort Printers. Photo: The Fort Printers

 

Galle Fort Hotel

28 Church Street; Tel: 091 223 2870

This stunning hotel set in a magnificently converted old Dutch warehouse – like the nearby Amangalla, manages to combine colonial charm and contemporary luxury, though at a far more affordable price. It also dishes up some of Galle’s best cuisine, with a menu inspired by Spice Road influences – a pleasant change if you have had one too many rice and curries.


Jetwing Lighthouse

Dadalla; Tel: 091 222 3744

Set on a breezy stretch of seafront a couple of kilometres outside Galle, this Geoffrey Bawa-designed hotel is one of the great Sri Lankan architect’s defining creations, with a simple, serene exterior, gorgeously designed rooms and splashes of local colour (such as the remarkable quirky wrought-iron staircase depicting the Portuguese arrival in Sri Lanka). Excellent food and heaps of facilities too, including Ayurveda and spa treatments, a gym, in-house boutiques and tennis court with flood lights. A stay at the the Jetwing Lighthouse is included on Insight Guides' Unforgettable Sri Lanka trip


The view from the rooms at the Jetwing Lighthouse. Photo: Jetwing


The Sun House

18 Upper Dickson Road; Tel: 091 438 0275

This long-established boutique guesthouse is still one of the nicest places to stay in Sri Lanka, set in a beautiful old 19th-century planter’s villa on a hill high above Galle, with oodles of period charm and memorable cooking. The adjacent Dutch House offers a slightly more upmarket variation on the same theme, with four huge suites in another historic colonial mansion.


Beach Haven

65 Lighthouse Street; Tel: 091 223 4663

This perennially popular guesthouse seems to have been going for ever and continues to pull in visitors thanks to its cheap and comfortable rooms, tasty home cooking and its uniquely friendly and sociable family atmosphere. There’s a verandah and rooftop seating for unwinding, and hearty home-cooked meals upon request.


Taking a trip to Sri Lanka: how to get started

Add a stop to one (or more!) of these hotels to any of our existing trips to Sri Lanka. Alternatively, simply get in touch with us, tell us your interests and budget, and our local experts will tailor a Sri Lankan itinerary to your suit your individual tastes. You can then adjust your itinerary until you are completely happy with it!