Some hotels are so much more than just the spacious rooms, sunken bath tubs and exquisite dinner menus. They have stories to narrate, pieces from history to showcase and they blend seamlessly with the city, unlike some obtrusive neo concrete hotel buildings.
AmanGalla is everything I describe above…it has a wonderful story to narrate of its erstwhile existence as the New Orleans Hotel. Located within the ramparts of the UNESCO protected Galle Fort it blends seamlessly with the charming surroundings.
Set in a 17th century Dutch colonial building, the 31 rooms and suites of Amangalla have been restored and tastefully done with antique furniture. The four poster-bed, sunken bath and windows that offered view of the Galle’s 18th-century Groote Kerk (Great Church) made for a spectacular stay experience. Some hotels transport to a different era. The Aman touch of eco-friendly dispensers in bathrooms, postcards and pencils on study table and overall minimalistic interiors further enhanced the experience. There were also two books that described the history of Galle and local stories that were left for us to take back as souvenirs.
It was a three hour quick journey from Delhi to Colombo and a two and a half hour drive from Colombo airport for us to reach Amangalla. It is not a tedious journey but it still called to kick off the trip with a rejuvenating Ayurveda massage at The Baths- spa at Amangalla. The spa houses five treatment rooms and two hydrotherapy suites. While the masseur did a great job, the time I spent at the hydrotherapy suite was therapeutic as well.
This luxury boutique property pays lot of attention to details. The period furniture and antique silverware in its its high ceiling restaurant- The Dining Room- makes for an intimate dinner experience. The rotating dinner menu features best of Sri Lankan cuisine. For me however the highpoint was the high tea that was served at the Verandah. Ceylon’s best tea, Aman’s impeccable service and tropical weather all made for great two hours. There are many people who flock Amangalla to experience its fabled afternoon tea, now I know why.
When not lounging at the pool or spending time at the well stocked library, I would venture out for a stroll in the bylines of the Galle Fort. The charming lanes have many shops selling the best of gems and souvenirs. There is the old lighthouse and a beautiful harbour within the ramparts.
The days I was in a mood to explore little bit more of Sri Lanka and this charming city, the Aman concierge was at our service. There was the option of boarding a restored Indonesian fishing trawler to go whale watching. Just 25-minutes south of Galle is the Handunugoda tea plantation and one can spend hours gallivanting with the planters and learning about Ceylon’s world famous tea. It makes for some great Instagram moments too!
You could even hire Aman’s personal shoppers who would take you to some of the island’s top jewellers in the fort, the bustling spice and food markets of Galle Town and to the antiques shops dotted along the coast.
another must see, just twenty minutes from the hotel are the quaint spots of Yatagala and Rhummasal. Yatagala is a rock temple with a beautiful image room, a 1000 year old Bo tree and a meditation cave.
Sri Lanka offers free visa on arrival and considering it is a short flight from Delhi (three hours) you can always plan a quick weekend trip. Aman Resorts helps travellers in designing their itinerary even before the travel starts.