Originally built in 1684 as the local headquarters of the Dutch colonists, the property was converted into one of Galle’s grandes dames, the New Oriental Hotel, in 1865. Having created a century’s worth of hospitality buzz in the hands of its Dutch caretakers, it passed to the Aman group.
In our experience, it is too often the case that when a great hotel changes hands, its heritage is stripped away in favour of modernity. This is not the case here, as Aman has lovingly restored its old-world grandeur throughout. We were charmed by the smell of freshly polished wood wafted along by the veneered ceiling fans. Attentive staff in crisp uniforms glided stealthily across the floors to cater to our every whim, avoiding the carefully positioned antique furnishings along the way.
Beyond the vast lounges, we found solace in the property’s secluded paradise – a 200-year-old tropical garden with an open-air yoga studio. The absolute highlight is The Baths, a magnificent spa where guests are transported back to an age of ‘taking the waters’.
But the entire building holds beautiful stories of its past. There’s even a small museum dedicated to the hotel’s previous eccentric owner, whose photos, antiques and mementoes – including those of her scandalously much younger lover – are on display.
Right on time
While you’re Out There
Get out of and about and book a tour with Galle Fort Walks who will give you the real deal, inside track to the walled city.