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Scented with spice and sea spray, Galle is an almost tropical feeling little city, sitting on and around a little wedge of land jutting into the ocean. Before the Portuguese arrived in the 16th Century, Galle was a small village, but they quickly turned it into a major spice port, building an impressive fort - now considered the best example of a fortified port built by Europeans in South-East Asia - covering most of Galle's ocean promontory. The Dutch arrived in the 17th Century, and added to the fort, as well as building their homes and churches, so today's Galle is a beautiful mix of local and colonial architecture, and the best places to stay in Galle are among these beautiful buildings.
The, now UNESCO Heritage Listed, fort is full of bijou shops and cafes and boutique hotels. It's a hang out for writers, artists, poets etc.. And beyond that is a charming warren of streets. But this isn't just a historic fort and an old colonial port, it's very much a working administrative centre, and the city is full of real inhabitants, not just visitors and ex-pats who've been bewitched by Galle's allure.
Our pick of the best places to stay in Galle feature a restored merchant's house and an elegant 18th century mansion.
For central location
- The Sun House was originally built for a Scottish spice merchant in the 1860s, and its white, colonial elegance now houses seven rooms, including a large suite. A short walk from the fort, The Sun House has truly special views of Galle harbour. There's also an excellent restaurant serving Sri Lankan food - it's so good, even guests will need to book - and a beautiful, frangipani filled garden with a pool which feels pleasantly private.
For awesome views
- The Dutch House is the sister hotel to The Sun House, and is blessed with similarly lovely views of Galle, from its hilltop position. This home was built for a Dutch naval officer in 1712, so the architecture is totally different. The decor inside is as well, there's an interesting selection of antiques and contemporary art on the walls. This is a hip spot, and with just four rooms.
Still not sure? Browse through our list of all the best places to stay in Galle, or contact one of our friendly Gurus for advice. Alternatively widen your search and check out all our recommendations in Sri Lanka.
Best Hotels in Galle
Kikili House 6 rooms from $132Galle
Darling little guests house just outside historic Galle Fort. Welcoming hosts make guests feel right at home whilst colourful artworks and vibrant fabrics add the charm of this leafy neighbourhood. A delicious breakfast of familiar Continental dishes and Sri Lankan hoppers (a must try!) is included.City Style - A charming base to explore the equally charming Galle townGreat walks - To Galle Lighthouse and along the fort wallsLocal markets - The morning fish market is a vibrant affairRestrictions on children - Children above the age of 12 are acceptedRecommended by - I Escape
The Fortress Resort & Spa 53 rooms from $180Galle (Koggala)
Luxury resort with stunning Indian Ocean views on Koggala Beach. Stylish interiors feature full length windows for maximum views, and contemporary Sri Lankan furnishings. Excellent facilities include three restaurants, infinity pool and Ayurvedic spa. Perfect for beachside relaxation.Swimming Pool - Outdoor infinity pool. Some rooms feature private plunge poolsSights nearby - 20 mins from Galle with its historic fortSpa - Featuring signature Ayurvedic therapiesCooking classes - Cookery demonstrations
The Fort Printers 13 rooms from $140Galle Fort
Unassuming from the outside this bijou hotel has had some high profile guests. Behind the traditional facade it's all double height ceilings and modern chic style. Lunch and dinner are tailored to your preference. But with Galle town on your doorstep you have plenty of options. A design dream!Great walks - A sunrise or sunset walk around Galle Fort (2.5km in total) is a mustSights nearby - Galle Fort, Lighthouse, National Museum and other sites closebyDesigner - Uniquely designed interiors.Local markets - Good for local colour.Recommended by - I Escape, Tablet
Jetwing Lighthouse 85 rooms from $210Galle (DADELLA,)
Chic design hotel housed in this former lighthouse. Blending clean lines with design quirks bedrooms are light and bright with large bathrooms. There are plenty of hotel activities, from tennis to fishing, making it great for the whole family. Interiors make the most of unspoilt sea views.Families - With plenty of activities on sight and babysitting services this property is great for all agesFishing - Borrow a rod and tackle and you can go fishing right off the dockSights nearby - Nearby Galle Fort is a must visitSwimming Pool - Outdoor pool
The Sun House 9 rooms from $250Galle
This charmingly restored merchant's house has great hillside views. Exquisite bedrooms and suites in all-white-ethereality are the piece de resistance for any romantic. An intimate atmosphere with communal dining and lovely gardens. A hip hotel, with many accolades, ideal for completely unwinding.Romantic Break - Relax and unwind with your loved one in this idyllic property.Sights nearby - The Kataluwa Buddhist temple is hidden away in the jungle outside Galle.Great walks - Take a walking tour through Galle Fort.Swimming Pool - Outdoor garden poolRecommended by - I Escape
Galle Fort Hotel 12 rooms from $200Galle (Fort)
Situated on the fringe of town this hotel is a tranquil hideaway. A centuries old property, decorated in a Dutch, Sri Lankan and colonial style, houses a lively restaurant great for mingling with fellow travellers. Loft suites are by far the best. A sun-dappled pool will leave you sun trapped!Sights nearby - Galle lighthouse, buddhist temples and museums are all located nearbyDiving - The beaches of Unawatuna and Weijia are a short drive awayGreat walks - Walk around the UNESCO World Heritage site of Galle FortRestrictions on children - All children above the age of three welcomeRecommended by - I Escape
Tri Lanka 11 rooms from $270Galle (Thitthagalle, Ahangama,)
Sri Lanka's latest eco-luxe offering. A more peaceful spot would be difficult to find, and this combined with world class yoga and excellent spa facilities make it the ideal detox escape. Modern suites are nestled up in the trees with views across Koggala Lake. Dine on delicious, healthy dishes.Total relaxation - There are few spots as serene in Sri Lanka - morning yoga completes the vibeEco break - Solar panels, low emmissions, low enviromental impact and much moreRomantic Break - Private treetop cottages make this an ideal romantic escapeGreat walks - Explore the local tea estates and learn about Sri Lanka's famous "Virgin White Tea"Recommended by - I Escape
Aditya Resort 16 rooms from $350Galle (Devenigoda, Rathgama,)
A contemporary boutique hotel located on its own stretch of palm lined beach. Airy rooms feature splashes of pop colours, traditional furnishings and design quirks such as split levels and outdoor rain showers. An international lunch and dinner menu is available as are Ayurvedic spa treatments.Beach Life - Boasting its own stretch of private beach - ideal for watersports enthusiastsSwimming Pool - Outdoor poolSeaside - Ideal for a seaside holiday.On the beach - In front of the hotel.Recommended by - I Escape
Kahanda Kanda 10 rooms from $335Galle (Angulugaha)
Up in the tea-leaf covered hills surrounding Galle, Kahanda Kanda is a lover’s retreat. Comprised of ten private suites, tucked away in lush grounds, decorated in a luxurious and modern décor. With private dining, spa treatments and plenty of activities this is one for hopeless romantics.Sights nearby - Visit the historic town of Galle with its museums and galleriesRestrictions on children - Children must be over the age of 12Designer - Uniquely designed interiors.Surfing - Suitable beaches nearby.Recommended by - I Escape, Mr & Mrs Smith
The Dutch House 3 rooms from $552Galle
A peaceful 18th century mansion overlooking Galle. Elegant interiors decorated in rich ochres, antiques, and contemporary art with lovely gardens to unwind in. The adjoining hotel has the best restaurant in Galle. A tranquil and romantic base to explore Galle and its surrounding areas.Hideaway - A chic boutique hotel with just four elegant and airy suites, in lush gardens filled with coconut trees and sun loungers.Great walks - Take a walking tour of the historic Galle Fort, especially a sunset stroll along the walls.Local markets - Visit the nearby villages and pick up some local delights in their markets.Diving - Head up further north for scuba diving at Unawatuna.Recommended by - I Escape
Amangalla 30 rooms from $550Galle
Galle's top address. Cast your worries aside as you are taken care of by the world renowned Aman group. Located in a handsome, white colonial building you'll find chic interiors and suites crammed with period pieces and beautiful bathrooms. Elegant dining and a sumptuous spa complete the picture.Eco break - Recycled water, staff are local plus they organise monthly beach clean ups (and much more)! An enviromentally conscious hotelFamilies - Plenty of activities, baby sitting services, plus children under 12 stay freeRomantic Break - Charming suites, indulgent spa - a great couples breakCity Style - The number one address in the historic town of GalleRecommended by - Mr & Mrs Smith, I Escape