Amangalla Hotel | Galle | Sri Lanka


Amangalla derives its name from aman, or “peace” in {en:Sanskrit}, and galla, the Sinhalese name for the town of Galle. The origin of the name “Galle” is attributed to the Portuguese mariner who first sighted its natural harbour. Tradition has it that a sailor up on the crow’s-nest of the Portuguese vessel spied a cock crowing on a rock. Take Gallus, Latin for rooster and Gala, Singhalese for rock, and it comes as no surprise that the coat of arms of Galle is a rooster standing on a rock. The resort provides the perfect base for exploring the fort and the town of Galle.

Lying within the walls of the fort is Amangalla an amalgamation of buildings dating back over 400 years. Collectively the buildings have been used as headquarters for the Dutch commandeur and his officers and later as a billet for British soldiers. In 1865, the buildings were combined to create the New Oriental Hotel, one of twelve hotels at the time within the fort. As the New Oriental Hotel, the property traded for 140 years.

Historically, the fortified town of Galle has been a significant trading port. More than a thousand years ago it was the essential port of call for Chinese, Persian, Arab and Indian traders. Later came the Javanese and Sumatrans, followed by Marco Polo in 1299. But it was with the arrival of the Portuguese in 1505 that a small foreign trading post was established. In 1589, when the Kandyans forced the Portuguese out of their Colombo fort, a Portuguese settlement commenced in earnest with a fort of palm trees and mud.

Among other early buildings was a Capuchin convent followed by the Black Fort known as Santa Cruz. In 1640, the Dutch captured the fortress of Galle and, to protect their presence, they needed a garrison – hence the fort. {en:Galle Fort} was built by 1663 with great ramparts and bastions, but not fully completed until 1715. In 1684 the headquarters for the commandeur were built on the corner of the present Church and Middle Streets, the start of what now comprises Amangalla.

The ensuing 400 years have seen people come and go. Swashbucklers, traders, colonialists, the Dutch, the English, all have left an indelible stamp on the rich history and character of this trading port.

The scenic countryside and quaint villages as well as the wildlife of southwestern Sri Lanka, provide further pleasant distraction. Galle Fort remains a “living” monument with a thriving community within. The inhabitants are also protected, not by the stone ramparts some 20 metres thick, but by {en:UNESCO}, which classified the fort a {en:World Heritage site} in 1988.


The Garden House – Situated within the resort gardens, this two-storey, 140 square metre house features a private terrace and balcony offering leafy, treetop views. The original, antique furniture of the house has been restored. At the entrance is a sitting room fitted with a chaise lounge, armchairs and coffee table. Double doors lead to the bedroom, furnished with a king-size four-poster bed, writing table and dressing cabinet. Adjoining this is a spacious bathroom, bathed in light from the pool garden outside. It offers twin vanities, a free-standing tub, toilet and separate shower. An internal stairway rises from the sitting room to the upper level, featuring a daybed and banquette. Other facilities include a pantry serviced by a private butler.

Suites – There are 8 Suites, of which six are located in the Church Street Wing and two in the Middle Street Wing. The Suites look onto para trees, the ramparts of the Fort and the harbour, or the mature well-tended tropical gardens. The spacious Suites feature the original polished teak floorboards dating back over 300 years. The entry hall leads to separate bedroom and lounge area. Adjacent to the entry hall is the bathroom with a free-standing tub, twin vanities, separate toilet and shower. The bedroom has a king-size four-poster bed and arched, shuttered windows. The lounge is furnished with a chaise lounge, writing desk, dining table, planter’s chair and pettagama chest. This furniture is either a property original or careful reproduction. Suites range in size from 60sq m to 80sq m.

There are 4 Garden Wing chambers – three with balconies and one with a twin porch – all over-looking the treetops of the resort garden. The large room is furnished with a four-poster king-size or twin beds, planter’s chair, writing desk, dining table and pettagama chest. The furnishings, either antiques or reproductions, complement the polished timber floorboards and the shuttered windows on the balcony/porch. The separate bathroom has a free-standing bath and separate shower and toilet. Chambers range in size from 55sq m to 67sq m.

Chambers – 6 chambers are located within the Church Street Wing and face the Fort ramparts. The entrance leads into the open plan room, featuring first the bathroom, followed by the bedroom and a separate sitting area. The bathroom has a large shower, free-standing bathtub, and toilet. A gracious and authentic turn-of-the-century ambience is recreated with use of a four-poster king-size or twin bed arrangement, a planter’s chair, writing desk, dining table and a pettagama chest perched atop gleaming teakwood floorboards.

Bedrooms – 7 bedrooms are located adjacent to Amangalla’s reception, on the ground level of the Middle Street Wing. Views are either overlooking the garden or the nearby historic Groote Kerk (Great Church). The bedroom and separate bathroom are similar in size with furnishings including a four-poster king-size bed, writing desk, dining table, pettagama chest – all set within the original polished jackwood floors. The spacious bathroom offers twin vanities, free-standing tub, separate shower and toilet. Three bedrooms are set within the property’s gardens. French windows and doors open onto the garden entrance of each room. The bedrooms offer a combined sitting and sleeping area with a writing desk, dining table and king-size four-poster bed. The adjoining bathroom includes twin vanities, a free-standing bathtub, shower and toilet. Bedrooms range from 36 to 39 square metres.


The Zaal – the Great Hall – as it was known in Dutch times, is the entry point to the resprt and has a wonderful colonial feel with high ceilings, overhead fans and chandeliers. There is relaxed seating within as well as on the verandah facing the tree-lined street front. The menu provides light meals and snacks in the morning and afternoon tea is served daily. The verandah is the ideal place to escape the heat of the day, enjoy a tall drink and watch the world pass by.

Adjacent is The Dining Room that provides an intimate setting for dining with a colonial accent. The Dining Room is furnished with period chairs and tables, crisp white linen and antique silverware, with many of the original pieces being returned to their rightful place in this room. The Dining Room serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and provides a choice of traditional Sri Lankan curry and rice and home cooked dishes.


Swimming Pool: The Pool is centred within the resort’s gardens and measures 21m by 10.5m. Bordering the swimming pool is a terrace containing five shaded cabanas and a series of sun lounges. Poolside service is provided and a variety of light meals and snacks are available.

Library: Located beyond the reception hall is the Library with an attached reading terrace. There is an extensive range of reference books on the history, arts, culture and communites of Sri Lanka as well as a selection of novels, magazines, newspapers, audio CDs and board games. Two computer stations are provided for guests to access the Internet. There is also an eclectic collection of memorabilia drawn from the archives of the New Oriental Hotel, which provides an interesting perspective into the history of the buildings, the fort and the port of Galle.


The Baths: These are contained within the lower level of the Middle Street building. Entry is to a reception hall that is flanked on one side by a long ascending arched corridor leading to five treatment rooms. There is a small relaxation area at the entrance to each of the rooms. On the other side of the reception hall are the female and male locker rooms and bath areas. Each contains a small number of lockers and a dressing area leading to a hydrotherapy and water massage pool, sauna, steam and cold plunge pool. The male area is bathed in natural light during the day and the female area looks onto a private garden. There is also a beauty treatment area and a traditional barber’s shop. Adjacent to the Baths and positioned in a quiet part of the hotel gardens is a combined yoga and meditation pavilion.


Amangalla is an integral part of Galle Fort. Here the narrow streets are lined with old houses, displaying their Dutch heritage with their pillared verandahs. The government offices of the Dutch and English period remain in use, in varied states of repair. The community within the Fort is abustle with daily chores and work. Along with the bullock carts and bicycles, the three wheelers and food carts, people socialize and shop, collect their children from school and stop to eat. Laughter, chatter, gossip and smiles abound within the rampart walls.

Address: Amangalla, 10 Church Street, Galle, Sri Lanka.
Airport: Colombo Bandaranaike Airport (CMB)

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