A stay at The Merchant Galle Fort, Sri Lanka
For the longest time, the beauty of Sri Lanka had captivated us from afar. Golden beaches, swaying palms, historic buildings… all scenes straight out of a postcard. So, after 2 long years spent in a travel limbo thanks to that horrid C-word, we all but sprinted to the airport when Sri Lanka opened up to tourists again. It was time to turn this bucket list dream of ours into a reality.
We arrived in Colombo and explored what we could of the city for several days before we longed for the sea breeze of the famous Galle Fort. We had seen photos and heard stories of this old Dutch fortress town, but nothing could prepare us for its real-life grandeur, made all the more memorable by our stay at The Merchant Galle Fort.
We arrived at The Merchant Galle Fort and were immediately greeted by that signature Sri Lankan hospitality, accompanied by a fresh pot of tea. Talk about Ceylon spirit! With only 14 rooms and 1 townhouse, The Merchant Galle Fort is a charming boutique hotel that puts service first. The building facade takes you back in time to 1710 when it was originally built by the Dutch, however, the interiors have been thoughtfully restored and fitted with all the luxury comforts of modern-day living.
Breakfast at The Merchant Galle Fort was an indulgent affair and something we looked forward to each morning after waking early to catch sunrise. Included in our room rate was the choice of a traditional Sri Lankan breakfast or a hearty English breakfast, so each morning we’d order one of each to share between the two of us. It’s hard to choose a favourite but nothing beats the sweetness of Sri Lankan fresh fruit.
When it comes to location, The Merchant Galle Fort is in the thick of it. Located in the very centre of the iconic Pedlar Street, you don’t have to venture far to experience Galle Fort’s renowned shopping scene and incredible architecture. Travel through time as you wander along the Fort’s paved streets, marvelling at the Dutch architecture that now houses gem and gelato stores, cafés and boutiques.
Just a few minutes walk from The Merchant Galle Fort, you’ll reach the outer Fort walls. On the sea wall, you’ll find the Galle Fort Lighthouse, towards the entrance, the clock tower. A word of advice – head out early to beat the Unawatuna day-trippers. Galle Fort is a sleepy town, so if you want to snap some photos by yourself, the earlier the better. Come sunset, the fort walls – in particular the lighthouse – are teeming with tourists.
After exploring the fort we headed back to The Merchant Galle Fort for some much needed RnR. A popular restaurant come sundown, during the day The Merchant’s alfresco courtyard is the perfect place to find a cosy corner and enjoy a refreshing juice, not to mention the super fast WiFi makes it the ultimate #WorkFromAnywhere situation.
If you’re looking to explore beyond the Fort Walls, there are plenty of nearby beaches to soak up some sun, saltwater and surf. We hired a tuktuk one morning and made the short 15-minute drive out to Jungle Beach, a beautiful cove with turquoise water surrounded by lush tropical foliage. Don’t forget your snorkel, as this is some of the calmest water on the west coast. Later, we ventured a little farther down the coast to Unawatuna Beach, a bustling tourist town and the perfect spot to catch sunset by the water. You definitely don’t want to miss this day trip from Galle Fort!
We spent the afternoons perched on our private balcony, enjoying the serenity and sounds of Sri Lanka. There was even a peacock showing off on a nearby roof! Our stay at The Merchant Galle Fort was unforgettable and a bucket list trip that exceeded our expectations.
Plan the rest of your Sri Lanka trip with our curated guide to the Best Hotels in Sri Lanka, from the coast to the jungle.