The Sunday Leader

Galle Fort Hotel A Hidden Gem

Tucked away in the UNESCO world heritage site of the Galle Fort is the recipient of 2007 Award of Distinction for Heritage Conservation, the Galle Fort Hotel. A brainchild of Australian Karl Steinberg, the hotel has been welcoming guests for the past 10 years.  Since November 2011, it is under the Lankem Group of Companies.

The 12 room property on Church Street boasts a rich history dating back to 1695, a little younger than the key landmark in which it resides, the fortress of Galle, built by the Dutch East India Company in 1663. The property was once the home to one of the most prestigious gem merchant families in Asia, the Macan Markers, famed for their sapphire collection including the 182 carat “star of Bombay” now in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.

The property which ceased to be a private residence in the latter stages of the first half of the 20th century and post independence (1948), spent time, among other identities, as a bakery as well as the Fort Post Office.

Following its restoration the hotel opened its doors in November 2004, just weeks before the Boxing Day Tsunami. In the immediate aftermath of this tragic event The Galle Fort Hotel was a centre of operations for NGOs, journalists and other organisations as well as providing support to the surviving victims

Today the hotel is a collection of buildings from different periods, testament to its prominence through the ages, each reflecting different architectural styles.

The heritage wing, dates to the early 18th century, houses a range of suites each with a unique character. For example, the Admiral Cheng Ho Suite, or ACH as the guests refer to, commemorates the great Chinese explorer who paid several visits to Galle, the first in 1405. The Porcelain Suite has a display of antique Chinese ceramics between the bathroom and bedroom and original Dutch period 9m (30 ft) ceilings.

There are other antiques on display in the other guest rooms as well as the public areas of the hotel. These are all part and parcel of this boutique heritage hotel and add to its charm and character.

The hotel has maintained an enviable reputation for food in its short history, even with the current interest in the Fort due to the increasing range of cafes and restaurants. The hotel offer from casual lunch time cafe menu and tapas bar menu to the fine dining Asian fusion set dinners, well catering for both foreign and local guests. The bar has a full range of drinks including an extensive wine and cocktail list. The restaurant and bar are open to the public daily from 12pm.

The newly revamped page of the Galle Fort Hotel can be found on Facebook.

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