The renaissance of Galle’s fortified old town has brought new life to a seductive, sandy coast line studded with stylish villas and plush beach hotels.Photo Credit: Gemunu Amarasinghe
Exquisite refurbished colonial bungalows, beach villas, boutique hotels and characterful guest houses provide for a range of comfortable accommodation along the Galle coast and inland.Galle Fort & town: There are several luxurious villas including 41 Lighthouse Street, Thambilli, Orchard House - all refurbished colonial-style properties. The Galle Fort Hotel, Fort Printers and the five-star Amangalla are stately heritage properties. On a quiet hillside overlooking the main town, are the Dutch House and Sun House. On the edge of town, on the coastal road north to Colombo, the Lighthouse Hotel is a grand hotel with enough sports and recreation facilities for the active, and designed by the late Geoffrey Bawa, Sri Lanka’s famous architect. Close by is Tamarind Hill, an exquisite boutique hotel housed in a 200-year-old mansion.Unawatuna: Situated two miles along the south coast from Galle, Unawatuna offers a gloriously wide, curving bay, peppered by a rash of guesthouses and beachfront cafes. Unawatuna deals primarily in budget accommodation. Unawatuna Beach Resort is the sole traditional beach hotel. Thambapanni, on a steep hill a few hundred metres from the beach, offers mid-market eco style. The Sun n Sea, Flower Garden, Shangrilla Guest House and Star Light Hotel all have their advocates at the cheaper end of the market.Koggala: Excellent accommodation is available by the tranquil Koggala Lake. The classy Fortress, situated at the edge of the sea with its beach suites, fibre optic swimming pool and restaurants, offers the highest standards in beach hotels and has become beloved by honeymooners – as has Aditya a few miles to the north of the town.Thalpe and Habaraduwa: Sri Lanka’s villa scene is highly successful – with a collection of distinctive, luxurious villas, all staffed by a team of small, attentive and discreet staff. The coastline from Unawatuna to Habaraduwa is scattered with beach villas for the discerning traveller. These range from refurbished colonial bungalows to `tropical modern’ style beach villas with minimalist interiors.Ahangama: Kabalana, Easy Beach, and Insight, blessed by some of the South coast's best surfing beaches, all offer comfortable budget accommodation in Ahangama. Kabalana is the classiest option; Easy Beach, a Norwegian-owned guest house, the most loved.North of Galle: Between Galle and Hikkaduwa, the Galle effect is slowly taking hold. Aditya brings boutique standards to the coast – its best rooms are huge – and Villa Kusum is an individualistic beach villa valued for good food and a charming, slightly offbeat atmosphere.