A Unesco World Heritage site, Galle Fort was built by Dutch colonists in 1663. The quaint cobbled streets are now lined with trendy boutiques, cute cafes, stylish hotels and hip art galleries. There are plenty of spots that tell the city’s history— museum
Spa pick Visitors to Sri Lanka will quickly become familiar with the deep-green branding of the local luxury Ayurveda brand Spa Ceylon. There are outposts of the spa in hotspots across the island as well as further afield, and many of the country’s finest hotels use its fragrant products. The boutique and standalone spa in Galle Fort are perfect for picking up body and bath items, as well as home aroma blends with a true Sri Lankan identity, enriched with local ingredients such as aloe vera, cardamom, gotu kola, sandalwood, coconut, ylang ylang, lemongrass and cinnamon. If you have time, indulge in one of the spa treatments, whether it’s a full-body Kandyan ritual using precious mineral crystals from Ceylon, or a simple but equally rewarding and rejuvenating foot massage to soothe tired muscles. spaceylon.com otphotel.com
Lunch Love In the heart of Galle Fort, Church Street Social is the restaurant at the Fort Bazaar, a new boutique hotel created by the guys behind Sri Lanka’s popular colonial manor house The Wallawwa. It has an eclectic menu of Western, Middle Eastern and Sri Lankan dishes. Don’t miss the mezze platter, inspired by the history of the original building, which was once home to a Moorish spice merchant and has been lovingly restored for the 18-room hotel. Enjoy an indulgent lunch in the cool, tiled environs of the main restaurant area or al fresco in front of the hotel, watching the hustle and bustle of Galle Fort pass by. teardrop-hotels.com
Stop & Shop Occupying an old colonial townhouse on Church Street in the heart of Galle Fort, the Stick No Bills poster gallery was established soon after the civil war ended. A remarkable array of vintage and retro-style posters showing Ceylon’s halcyon days of travel, tea, surf and film production is to be found downstairs, and a selection of antique maps upstairs. It’s the perfect spot to stop by and pick up a postcard to send home, or to choose a vintage-feel poster or genuine antique memorial for your wall to remind you of the good times spent in this wonderful island paradise. sticknobillsonline.com
Boutique Stay A perfect base from which to explore Galle Fort and the colonial history of southern Sri Lanka—not to mention the local contemporary arts and crafts, and the cinnamon and tea plantations—is the Owl and the Pussycat, a recent addition to Mihiripenne Beach. Or return after a day out in the surf, at the nearby turtle conservation space or on a whalewatching boat to this quirky home away from home. It features fun, sparky design throughout, a tranquil swimming pool, a drawing room in which to unwind, a relaxing massage tent on the lawn and an excellent cocktail list that’s perfect for indulging yourself on the seafront to the hypnotic accompaniment of the lapping of the waves.