No. 39 Galle Fort
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A holiday here includes
Turn back the clock and get a dose of nostalgia at No.39 Galle Fort on Sri Lanka’s south-west coast. Set within the fort walls of a 17th century UNESCO World Heritage Site, this three-bedroom heritage townhouse is lovingly restored by its owners, descendents of one of Galle’s original Dutch Burgher families.
The house retains its old world charm, with long, shaded verandahs, pleasant gardens and high, timber vaulted ceilings. The furniture is an elegant mix of antiques and custom-made pieces, adding personality to each room. Though the villa dates back to the 17th century, it underwent extensive renovations in 2008 and boasts of mod cons such as iPod docks, satellite TV and a well-equipped, modern kitchen.
Which brings us to the food. To visit Sri Lanka and not obsess about the food is almost unheard of. No.39 is serviced by warm staff, including a talented cook trained in the art of Auyurvedic cooking. Delicious set meals can be crafted by the cook, customised to your preferences, and served on the long dining table or alfresco in the garden. Dining is a pleasure here, with food not just pleasing the tastebuds but also created for its healing properties according to the ancient science of Ayurveda. Paddock to plate dining, raw food, clean eating and locally-sourced ingredients all come together to create gastronomic experiences that shall leave a lasting impact on you.
This breezy, two-storey terraced house is lavishly spacious; dotted with daybeds, cosy nooks and shady corners. The three bedrooms are all large and cool, with views that range from the garden to the goings-on of Lighthouse Street outside. Mornings can be spent doing yoga or meditation in your tropical garden, while evenings are best reserved for cocktails under the stars.
During the day, step out and explore the many iconic attractions of Galle Fort on foot. The much-photographed lighthouse, crumbling fort walls, hidden cafes and boutique shops are all a short stroll away. While you are bound to enjoy the vibe of this heritage 400-year old fort, you will always find yourself wishing to return to the cosy environs of your private home, a little haven that’s all yours, even if for a few days.
Inner Galle Fort location
Airy and very spacious
Historic heritage house
Close to the test cricket stadium
Restaurants and shops nearby
"What a little paradise in the middle of a bustling city!!! We loved our stay here. Wasn't easy with two small kids making sure that they don't damage all the precious property but with good help from Imalka and Anjali we managed it very well. We loved the garden space and the kids spotted little squirrels up on the wall and an iguana came for a visit one morning. Beautiful fresh flowers! We were amazed how quiet is this villa, what a good sleep we had. Breakfast was nice and the guys were so attentive to our needs and favours. We would love to come back one day! Thank you."
Real time availability
- Early bird enjoys up to 15% discount when booking 120 days in advance.
- Last minute bookings enjoy up to 15% discount when checking in before 03-May-2020.
- Regular menu featuring traditional Sri Lankan, regional and western cuisines. No set menu or full board/half board option available with this choice. Continental breakfast is included in the villa rate.
- Ayurveda-inspired Set Wellness Menus featuring healthy fare including vegan, vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. To be ordered by the entire group. To reap optimal benefits from a health and wellness perspective, full board or half board is required (see rates page). No continental breakfast offered but an Ayurvedic breakfast is included.
- Expansive, open-plan, fan-cooled living space with lounge area and elegant teak dining table for 10
- Fan-cooled mezzanine snug with daybeds, a 32-inch flat-screen TV and DVD player
- Refined reading room with twin rattan loungers and a ceiling fan
- Courtyard garden laid to lawn and edged by palms, torch ginger and floral vines
- Semi-alfresco veranda with daybed and planters chairs overlooking the garden
- Privately situated on the first floor of the house
- King-sized four-poster bed, Dutch almirah and side tables
- Folding doors onto private balcony with garden and rooftop views
- Modern ensuite bathroom finished in terrazzo
- Located on the ground floor of the house
- King-sized four-poster bed, Dutch almirah and side tables
- Folding doors onto private terrace with garden/courtyard views
- Terrazzo-finished modern ensuite bathroom
- Situated on the ground floor, just off the living room
- Antique queen-size bed and matching antique cupboard
- Views of Lighthouse Street beyond wide folding windows
- Tiled galley-style bathroom with shower
No. 39 is located mid-way along Lighthouse Street, in historic Galle Fort, just 150 metres from the grass-topped western-facing ramparts and a further 200 metres from the town’s famous international test cricket stadium. The fort is a world heritage site and dates back over 400 years; a walk along its narrow cobbled streets reveals the fascinating hybrid architecture of three colonial eras – fretwork-fringed and pillarred Dutch abodes, British-era monuments, ochre-hued spice warehouses and interesting museums showcasing the fort’s rich history. There are many restaurants and cafes, as well as boutiques selling handicrafts, delicate lacework, glittering gems and other evocative souvenirs. Within 15 kilometres are a selection of mesmerising beaches, tranquil lagoons and historic temples.
Things to do
Exploring a destination with the help of locals is always a unique experience. You get to remove the touristy sheen off a place, and grow to love it for what it truly is. Most of the staff members at Villa 39 are locals and will be happy to share their recommendations and tips. We can also arrange specially-curated experiences for you such as cooking classes, village tours and more. Ask your villa manager for more details. Meanwhile, here’s a glimpse at some of the things to do in the area.
- Explore. Galle Fort is on your doorstep and a wander along her atmospheric lanes and grass-topped ramparts is very rewarding. On your hit list should be Amangalla Hotel, Maritime Museum, old spice warehouses, Law Court Square, the slender white lighthouse and Flag Rock to see kamikaze sea-jumpers in action. The western-facing ramparts ideal for sunset-watching. For historical insights, take a guided tour.
- Sign up for a village tour and cooking class aat the prevailing rate. Get a closer look at local village life and how food is prepared in a typical Sri Lankan village home. The program consists of:
- Look for the Colin-Thome gravestones in the famous Dutch Reformed Church. The owners of No. 39 are part of an original Dutch Burgher family from Galle and their great uncle and aunt are buried in the graveyard of the church (hint: look to the right of the entrance).
- Aside from sightseeing, Galle Fort is gaining increasing popularity as a place to shop and dine. We recommend Mimimango for exotic clothing, Stick No Bills for nostalgic vintage posters, Barefoot for vibrant handlooms and Sithulvili for painted timber boxes. Pedlar’s Inn Café is a reliable, sociable spot, as are Fortaleza and Amangalla, both lively bars. Don’t forget to stop off at the Pedlar’s Inn Gelataria for Galle’s best ice creams.
- Pamper yourself at one of Galle Fort’s relaxing spas; favourites include the serene Galle Fort Spa for contemporary treatments, and Amangalla’s The Baths, for hydrotherapy and traditional yet luxurious Ayurvedic treatments. We also recommend Spa Ceylon Ayurveda, a delightful spa and boutique on Lighthouse Street selling beautifully packaged luxurious body scrubs, shower gels, creams, lotions and fragrant body and hair oils. There are one or two fish spas in the fort too.
- The Dutch Hospital Complex is a lively place within Galle Fort, full of vibrant restaurants and bars.
- If you’re lucky enough to be in town for an international cricket fixture, make for the test stadium, or for a more unique view, sit on the front ramparts and watch from a vantage point.
- To explore Galle’s hinterland, take off on a guided bicycle adventure. Trips take you along the quietest back lanes and paddy bunds, through villages, farmland and forests, ending up at the beach for sunset.
- Merely 5km away from Galle Fort lies Rumassala Mountain, steeped in folklore. According to legend and the Ramayana, the mountain is actually part of the Himalayas, brought to Sri Lanka by Hanuman, the Indian monkey god. Tales of this can be seen etched in the walls of the Rumassala Temple. If this wasn’t fascinating enough, you will surely enjoy what are known as the best coastal views in southern Sri Lanka from atop this mountain. A Peace Pagoda built by the Japanese sits at its summit.
- Head to Wijeya Beach (8km), a popular expat hangout with soft sands and a tranquil lagoon that’s great for swimming (and for families). Alternatively, make for Talpe Beach Club (11km), which serves up delicious food and drinks by the sea, and has a swimming pool if you don’t feel like braving the ocean.
- Not many know that Galle is also home to lowland tea estates. Visit the Handunugoda Tea Factory (21.5km), where you can tour the estate (which also makes expensive white tea) and enjoy a tea tasting session.
- Koggala Lake (16km)is a meandering waterway fringed by cinnamon plantations, village communities and thick jungle where you can take a boat ride or visit a spice garden.
- If you’re in town between November and April, it’s whale and dolphin watching season; boats depart either from Galle Harbour or the pretty harbour in Mirissa (34km). Out of season, take your younger family members to the turtle hatchery at Habaraduwa (13.5km).
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