Without a doubt the Grande Dame of Galle Fort, Amangalla boasts all the period charm of a bygone era. Deriving its name from the Sanskrit word for ‘peace’ and the Sinhalese name for Galle, the resort stands within the UNESCO-protected fort walls at the junction of Church and Middle Street and offers commanding views of the harbour and ramparts.
The sophisticated property is an amalgamation of buildings dating back over 400 years, and as soon as you set foot in the hotel, you feel whisked back in time; the Grand Hall with its glinting chandeliers and soaring fin de siècle ceilings speaks of a golden era of colonial elegance. The buildings were originally built in 1684 as headquarters for the Dutch commandeur and his officers, and were later used as a billet for British soldiers. In 1863, the historic property opened as the Oriental Hotel, before becoming the New Oriental Hotel and trading for 140 years until 2002, when Aman acquired the property.
The accommodation is spoiling; choose between 26 bedrooms, chambers and suites, a two-bedroom Amangalla Suite or even the secluded Garden House. The latter is hidden away at the back near the tranquil swimming pool, which is just to die for. While the layout of each room varies slightly, each one offers a spacious en-suite bathroom as well as a four-poster king-size bed. Delicate features also abound, from original antiques and 300-year-old wooden floors to latticed shutters and beautiful arched windows.
The Grand Hall houses the smart dining room, which serves an array of Sri Lankan and Western cuisine. If you prefer, you can dine alfresco on the veranda in the evening and enjoy breakfasts and lunches outside in the 200-year-old gardens. The bar is the ideal spot to take a seat, enjoy an evening cocktail and listen to the grand piano, or upstairs, the Sunset Balcony is a picturesque spot for sundowners with views across Galle. Outdoors, the established gardens give way to the shimmering, green-tiled 21-metre swimming pool with its palm-shaded sun loungers: bliss. At the end of the gardens are Amangalla’s Baths with hydrotherapy pools and one of the best spas in Sri Lanka, offering treatments drawing on Ayurvedic healing traditions.
Providing a truly luxurious experience, Amangalla emanates sophistication and old-world charm and is the perfect base for exploring the historic town of Galle.