News that this wonderful old colonial property has undergone much-needed renovation after a change of ownership was a cause for general delight. The Sun House can rightly claim to have been the forerunner among Sri Lanka’s boutique hotels around the turn of the century and this enchanting colonial-style home once again glistens with a sense of worth, and subtle grandeur. The Sun House has spawling gardens with mature trees and interiors are elegant and inviting. The property is not in the Fort itself, but it does benefit from a spacious and relatively peaceful location on high, being situated on a quiet, leafy hill overlooking Galle harbour. The Fort itself is only a five-minute drive down the hill, which makes it a convenient as well as refined base from which to explore the many delights of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Sun House has seven rooms and suites each following an individual theme, furnished with Dutch-period antiques, king-sized beds, almirahs, dressing tables and writing desks. Books – so many books - walls adorned with photographs and paintings, fresh flowers and the finest bed linen and bath towels.
Dalloway Room (23 sq m): The Dalloway Room (which with the Tapestry Room is the most affordable option) is inspired by all the literary greats that have made Sri Lanka – and The Sun House – their home over the years. A richly-furnished bedroom has a king-size four-poster bed, desk, open wardrobe and bookshelves and the cool and stylish bathroom has twin sinks and rain shower. It opens out onto the Mango Garden with views across Galle.
Tapestry Room (26 sq m): The Tapestry Room pays homage to the merchant’s wife, the Seamstress, whose intricate designs were stitched in this part of the property. Another room with rich furnishings, it has a king size bed, desk and bookshelves / open wardrobe. The bathroom has twin sinks and rain shower. The room opens onto the Mango Garden and Galle views.
Eden Room (27 sq m): The Eden Room is in the next price category and it blends indoor and outdoor living, especially in its bathroom which possesses an open-air bathroom. It is equipped with a king size bed and quality furnishings and has stunning views across Galle.
Merchant Room (27 sq m): The Merchant Room was originally the private office of the former owner, and its décor is inspired by his voyages across the world, having reminders perhaps of north Africa. The room is equipped with a king size four poster bed and grand furniture and the bathroom has a slightly more modern feel with twin sinks and double height ceilings.
Dumas Suite (44 sq m): The Dumas Suite has a living space with desk and easy chairs, king size bed, balcony, and large bathroom with twin sinks and cement bathtub. It honours the international designer, Dick Dumas, who first transformed the Sun House – and, with it, Sri Lanka’s boutique ambitions. Great view of the property’s lower gardens.
Taprobane Suite (44 sq m): The newest addition. Developed in 2023 as a homage to the house’s former owner, Geoffrey Dobbs, it stands atop the canopy of the property’s lower gardens, providing beautiful views from the suite’s bay window. Features include a four-poster bed and a quite daring open-air bathtub on a balcony enclosed by greenery.
Gallean Suite (60 sq m): The Gallean Suite, comfortably the largest in the house, features a super-king size bed, dual sinks, spacious living areas, and an outdoor bathtub. It once served as the property’s master suite, and its pretty design and mass of bookcases is a reminder of the former owner’s distinctive personality and style.
An upmarket restaurant, The Gallean, can be found within the original spice stores. It celebrates a spice merchant and explorer who chose to make Galle his home. Each dish and drink purports to be a blend of local ingredients and spices discovered on his voyages, resulting in a menu that is both international and relevant to Galle itself. In the main house, The Sun House menu offers breakfast and all-day dining. Avid readers will be struck by the fact that there are books in every room. There is also a swimming pool, but TVs are absent to encourage an atmosphere of contemplation.
Why We Like It
The successful rebirth of an iconic Sri Lanka property – the one that sparked Sri Lanka’s move into boutique accommodation – is reason enough to celebrate
The Sun House is high above Galle, withing easy reach of the Fort, and about 2.5 hours from Colombo’s main airport via the Southern Highway or you can catch an air taxi to Koggala Lake.