Colonial Hotel of Galle : Amangalla (Galle, Sri Lanka)

According to guidebook Lonely Planet, Amangala is one of the most luxurious hotels in Asia. Well, let's stay.

Originally, it was built as the residence of the Dutch colonial government official in the second half of the 17th century and also used as the residence of East India company staff temporarily.

In 1863, a British bought it, and started business as the Oriental Hotel. It was a booming time as a port of call for a passenger ship connecting Europe and Asia. Later the new Oriental Hotel reopened at the end of the 19th century under new management. Aman resort took over it and renovated, and the hotel opened again in 2004.

My frank impression after staying was "simplicity with every luxury”. It neither used pretentiously expensive material nor was filled with decorations or magnificent furnishings. The original wall was carefully repainted with plaster and the floor was finished with a thick and polished solid board as it used to be. Newly added equipment and furniture was also modest. It maintained the prototype of 200 years ago.

The spa building, the garden building and the kiosks of the swimming pool are supposed to be added later, but they were carefully embedded in a limited site, so there was no discomfort. Passages are skillfully crooked among buildings and small courtyards, and scenery went changing. That resembled the approach of the Japanese tea room garden. So, I didn’t feel stuffy for the smallness.

Such smallness served as a mechanism to create the air of a hiding place for a special guest and provided quiet and calm coziness. However, as a result of beautiful and minimalistic renovation, inevitability that it was in Galle in Sri Lanka weakened. It may be unsatisfactory for a guest who wants to feel the character of the place. Although it took care of the prototype, it was also true that accumulation of time that the real colonial hotel maintained had disappeared.

To be honest, I could hardly sleep. The floor was quite squealing as my fellow traveler walked in the room (it can not be helped because it is an old building), a water wash sound in the rest room echoed in the room because of the style that the rest room door didn’t close (it may be a pleasure for a couple), bed's hardware hums each time I breathe (it will solve if a guest makes a long stay), the air conditioning sounds in quietness. The hotel focused on visual design but was indifferent to auditory design.

Even for such a thing, I had no bad impression thanks to visual comfort, refreshingness of being simple and decent but not excessive service.

And, I was surprised with the deliciousness of a scone served in afternoon tea. Sri Lankan cuisine dinner was also exquisite because of the price but it was no match for the scone. Yes, the design of a taste was perfect.

It is off the subject, but a woman came to Sri Lanka in the mid 18th century depending on her fiancés but he had been married so she was about to return to France. At this hotel, she met a man who was a lawyer in Galle. That was the beginning of the marriage of Jeffrey Bawa's grandparents.

To Japanese Version

Google Maps

3 - 4 hours by car or train from Colombo, then 5 minutes by car ot 15minutes walk from Galle station.



Amangalla-Formelly New Oriental Hotel (Joe Simpson他、Amangalla)

2008.01 Photos in English version, and photos and text in Japanese version

2018.01 Change of photos and English text

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Amangalla (17th century)

Photo by Daigo Ishii