Staying in Galle’s historic fort

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January, 2022

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On arrival in Sri Lanka, we travelled south to Galle where we stayed in the Fort Bazaar for five nights. The hotel, part of the Teardrop chain, was a beautifully restored Dutch colonial building, with 18 rooms located around a plant-filled central courtyard. Two room types were available: Bazaar Bedrooms on the ground floor, and the one we’d chosen, a Banyan Bedroom, on the first floor, up a short flight of stairs.

The location, in the heart of the historic Galle Fort, was excellent for sightseeing, eating and drinking.

Our large room, with its cool, stone floor and high gabled ceiling, had a comfortable king size four poster bed with marshmallow-like pillows. There were two wardrobes, one with the room safe, whilst the other had tea and coffee making facilities, and a fridge with complimentary soft drinks and water. We had an easy chair, space to open both suitcases, desk and plenty of English-style plug points. One side of the bed, which I quickly claimed, had a “ring for champagne” bell although I was too scared to try it. Sadly, the lead on the hair dryer was too short to be able to use it with a mirror, suggesting the room had been designed by a man. We were too busy exploring to watch the TV, but we certainly made use of the complimentary Wi-Fi and much-needed air conditioning. The room was attractively but simply decorated with cool, white walls and pale green paintwork on the wooden shutters and doors.

The large open shower, with powerful hot water, was a joy, and there was plenty of space to unpack our toiletries, although family size refillable bottles of shower gel, soap and body lotion were provided.

The restaurant and bar, known as Church Street Social, was also popular with non-residents – possibly because of the great location, its attractiveness and limited alternatives due to Covid. Most of the staff in the bar and restaurant were friendly young men, all casually dressed in jeans, blue Hawaiian Shirts and Converse sneakers.

We ate in the restaurant a couple of times. The simple menu had a mix of salads, Sri Lankan rice and curry and more international fare like burgers and pasta. The chef often came round checking we were happy with the food and, as we were regarded as ‘long stay guests,’ offered to prepare anything not on the menu.

The a la carte breakfast was a splendid, but not speedy, affair. Served as standard was juice, a breadbasket with various sweet and savoury items, a board with marmite and three small kilner jars of jam, and finally a plate of six different fruits which varied slightly each day but included watermelon, melon, rambutan, banana, passion fruit, pineapple, papaya, and mango. There was then a choice of 11 main dishes ranging from English style eggs benedict and trimmings to Sri Lankan hoppers with pea curry and various relishes. With tea or coffee, it set us up for the day.

We enjoyed complimentary afternoon high tea from 3.30pm to 4.30pm, which comprised of a pot of tea, butter cake and home-made biscuits. This led neatly into happy hour from 5pm to 6pm, where G&T, a daily cocktail and wine or beer were complimentary.

There were plenty of places to sit and relax in the back courtyard, a well-stocked library and spa, which I didn’t have time to use.

The pool, which wasn’t visible, was closed due to ‘licensing issues,’ and although we were told there was a tuk tuk service to the pool at the Jetwing Lighthouse, this had been suspended because of Covid.

The Fort Bazaar kicked off our month-long stay in style and comes highly recommended.

Helen Jackson

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