PRICE: Punchy but doesn’t blow the budget
The new kid on the block, the Fort Bazaar opened in Galle, Sri Lanka, in February 2016. It had an excellent pedigree, coming from the same stable as The Wallawa, a colonial manor house near to the airport which is an oasis of tranquillity before or after a long flight. And to serve your best interests, we were amongst the first through the door.
After our exhaustive enquiries (involving much exploring, eating and drinking and blissful sleeping) we came to the somewhat inevitable conclusion: this place is just brilliant.
The décor is atypical; it’s not the predictable blend of colonial and the vernacular but rather draws influences from the Middle East, noticeable from the moment you enter from the street and step onto cool Moroccan floor tiles on the hotel verandah.
The Fort Bazaar is refreshing in every sense, from the waiters wearing Converse shoes, jeans and lightweight linen shirts to the air-conditioned restaurant and bar (as we write, it’s the only hotel in Galle with an air-conditioned restaurant).
The rooms, decorated in the trademark muted green, are superbly designed with four-poster beds, storage for even the most over-enthusiastic packer and beautiful bathrooms. The courtyard terrace is delightful, bedecked with colourful Middle Eastern scatter cushions and small circular hammered metal tables. The only drawback is that it doesn’t currently have a pool but, hey, you’ll almost certainly be out and about in the fort.
Have dinner at Church Street Social. The hotel’s own restaurant is a treat. Not only will you enjoy refreshing aircon whilst dining but the menu introduces modern flair and creativity which you may not find elsewhere.
On your doorstep
Take a stroll out of the fort and into the new town. Head for the bus station to see daily life in Galle, with the street food sellers and hustle and bustle. The samosas at the small stand opposite the Colombo highway bus stop are superb.