Fort Bazaar Hotel, Galle, Sri Lanka

Galle is a special little pocket of Sri Lanka, a UNESCO World Heritage site recognised for its Dutch colonial beauty. Located on the coast, a couple of hours South of Colombo, this historic area has become a hotspot for tourists and local holidaymakers. Needless to say, there are plenty of hotels to choose from, ranging in price and style to suit every budget.

Fort BazaarFort Bazaar

The recently opened Fort Bazaar is a hotel that will satisfy and stun any traveller. Found in the centre of the historic town, the Teardrop Group have transformed a grand 17th century Dutch mansion house that was once a private residence for a wealthy family. The hotel is based around a quiet courtyard filled with beautifully-scented frangipane trees, and in one corner stands an impressive 150 year-old Banyan tree. With additional extensions the hotel now has 18 bedrooms, a small spa, restaurant and bar. They are also beginning work on an outdoor swimming pool and intimate cinema space.

Fort BazaarFort Bazaar

The rooms are split into various types: Bazaar are the simplest; Banyan include a balcony; Family Suites can be created by booking interconnecting rooms; and there is one Upper Family Suite, split over two floors with a spacious living space and two bedrooms. All the rooms are decorated in the same style, dominated by shades of off-white, concrete grey and a subtle ‘Monsoon Green’ paint colour. It is a simple but sophisticated look which encourages a calm and relaxed atmosphere.

We were in a pretty Bazaar Room (Number 17), a double room with separate bathroom. It was extremely comfortable for our one night stay, with a luxurious bed and thoughtful touches throughout. When you are not enjoying the comfort of your own room, there are plenty of other charming spaces in the house to enjoy… I loved the library room and the shaded courtyard, where a complimentary afternoon tea is served each day.

Fort BazaarFort Bazaar

The hip Church Street Social restaurant and cafe is a popular haunt for guests staying and visitors from outside of the hotel. We spent a few mealtimes here, enjoying a hearty brunch of ‘Egg Hopper Florentine’, fruit platters, pastries and ‘Cinnamon French toast’. It was a feast of colourful and flavoursome food. Caffeine fans will be pleased with the high quality coffee on offer from “Whight and Co. Ruby Harvest”. The freshly ground Ceylonese beans are 100% Arabica, organically grown in Sri Lanka and single origin. Tea, freshly made juices and mocktails are also available. In keeping with much of Galle, the hotel do not serve alcohol, however guests are welcome to bring their own without corkage charge.

Fort Bazaar

From the a la carte lunch and dinner menu at Church Street Social you can choose from a wide range of Sri Lankan and international dishes. I recommend trying the Cadju Nut & Green Pea Curry (one of the Teardrop Group’s signature dishes), a mild and creamy vegetarian dish with a fragrant and nutty flavour. For dessert we enjoyed the light and palate-cleansing Chilled Mango & Papaya Crumble.

Fort BazaarFort Bazaar

Stylish, thoughtful and affordable I can see why Fort Bazaar Hotel is becoming popular with guests of every age. It is the perfect Sri Lankan retreat for rest, relaxation and recuperation while exploring the busy Galle Fort area.

More information and book a room at the Fort Bazaar Hotel here.

Owl and the Pussycat Hotel, Sri Lanka

As you might have guessed (!) this charming little hotel is inspired by the 1871 Edward Lear poem, ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’. The concept was thought up by Indian-born Reita Gadkhari and Sri-Lankan co-owner Shane Thantirimudalige, who wanted to incorporate all the magic of the story into their fun and quirky hotel. In 2017, just a year after opening, Owl and the Pussycat Hotel was awarded ‘Most Instagrammable Hotel’ at the Small Luxury Hotel Awards, thanks to the playful attention to detail in the rooms and common spaces.

Owl and Pussycat

Hidden down an unlikely path off the main road in Thalpe, this boutique hotel is right on the beach and nearby to the popular destinations of Unawatuna and Galle. There are three buildings (blue, yellow and pink) housing 17 unique rooms. The spaces are all designed with colourful mismatched furniture, unusual artwork and fun owl and cat details. The owners have been influenced by world design with Moroccan-style colourful walls, Greek Islands fabrics and Indian furniture.

Owl and PussycatOwl and Pussycat

There are a few different room categories; we were very at home in our Suite Dreams room – number 8 on the second floor – named The Piggy-Wig. With a vibrant pink bedroom (with luxurious four-poster bed) and a beach-inspired living room with kitchenette, our room also had a small balcony that overlooked the sea and featured an impressive hanging chair, perfect for afternoon reading and relaxing. The bathroom was small and functional with a walk-in shower and basic toiletries.

Owl and PussycatOwl and Pussycat

The sheltered outdoor pool, bar and Runcible Spoon restaurant are all sociable areas to spend time. Shaded by giant palm trees and decorated with elegant tiling, they are simple but pretty places to sit. If you are in need of some pampering there is an outdoor treatment platform for a massage by the beach, accompanied by the sound of the surrounding waves.

Owl and the PussycatOwl and the Pussycat

We enjoyed a delicious regional dinner at the Runcible Spoon, and if you are intrigued about the finer details of this cuisine, the hotel can organise a cooking demonstration with the kitchen team so you can learn to make the dishes at home. We had a short class with the Sous Chef and learnt to cook rice with a fragrant and delicious assortment of vegetarian curries. Breakfast was also a highlight of our stay, a beautiful array of tropical fruits and Sri Lankan specialities, all enjoyed in the comfort of our room.

Owl and Pussycat

If you are looking for an eclectic and fun place to stay Owl and the Pussycat Hotel, on the edge of the Ocean, will provide a colourful home for your Sri Lanka holiday.

More information and book a stay at the Owl and the Pussycat hotel here.

Shangri-La Hotel, Colombo

Many tourists arrive in Sri Lanka and travel out to the countryside immediately, ignoring the capital city of Colombo. But I often find I enjoy the busy and energising capital cities that others avoid. Shangri-La Hotel, Colombo was our dwelling point for our first night in Sri Lanka, a recently opened branch of the luxury Asian hotel group.

Shangri-La Colombo

We arrived into the main international airport and a hotel representative was waiting there to greet us and take us to the property. Shangri-La Hotel Colombo opened in November 2017 as part of the port’s multi-million pound regeneration.

We were welcomed into the spectacular lobby, an impressively large space with a high ceiling, full height windows and a shimmering crystal water lily chandelier.

Shangri-La Colombo

There are 541 rooms in total, of varying sizes but all decorated in a similar style. We were in an executive room on the 32nd (top) floor with amazing views looking out over the lake and the city. We were given access to the lovely Horizon lounge which offers complimentary high tea and drinks daily and overlooks the Indian Ocean.

Shangri-La Colombo

The bedrooms are neatly arranged and business like in design, decorated in neutral shades of grey and cream with hints of colour. A decadent king-sized bed was the focus of our room and was extremely comfortable. The adjoining bathroom was small but had a bath squeezed in, and toiletries by local wellness brand, Spa Ceylon.

Shangri-La Colombo

We were staying during the Vesak Poya public holiday (a celebration of Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and death), so the streets were very busy and lots of the shops and markets were closed. Eager to see the streets of Colombo we went out in the hotel’s Tuk tuk, a fun way to get an insight into the thrilling Colombo city life. Had we had more time I would have loved to have explored the facilities in the hotel more too, a striking pool with canary yellow sun loungers and a relaxing spa.

Shangri-La Colombo

Tiki mocktails were delivered – a delicious tropical mix of passion fruit, fresh ginger and ginger ale. And then a feast of Modern Sri Lankan food arrived… Black Hoppers made from batter with squid ink, and served with creamy soft buffalo curd, fragrant Crab Stringhopper Kottu made with native mudcrab meat and stringhoppers and served with crab sauce. Everything was delicious. Don’t miss the signature dessert – What the Hopper – is a sweet version of the traditional dish, a treacle hopper with whipped curd, chopped strawberries and drizzled with treacle. It was satisfyingly sweet and wonderfully inventive. We finished the meal as the locals do… with a calming drink of honey, lime juice and hot water.

Shangri-La Colombo

The next morning we awoke feeling well rested and refreshed, a beautiful breakfast in the room was the perfect finale to our stay at the Shangri-La Hotel Colombo.

More information and book a stay at Shangri-La Hotel Colombo here.