Booking this stay
We booked this stay directly through Aman in order to access a package they were offering, Essence of Sri Lanka. This gave us complimentary afternoon tea and a $100USD property credit during our stay. We selected one of the signature rooms, the Amangalla Suite, because we have often found them to be impressive rooms and worth the additional cost. Plus, we were only staying for 2 nights.
Arrival and check-in
We landed in Colombo a little before 8pm, and met our Aman representative after picking up our bags and clearing a COVID vaccination check point. The airport was extremely busy and it took a while for our driver to reach us. The hotel is located about 2 hours south of the airport, and it was a surprisingly smooth ride.
We were greeted by several staff members when we arrived, and our bags were taken to our room. As is typical at Aman hotels, check-in did not happen at the front desk, but rather we were shown to our room and completed the check-in process there. Our dedicated butler was the one who completed check-in, gave us a tour of the room and helped arrange a late night dinner on the veranda for us before the kitchen closed.
Our room was a corner suite located on the top floor of the hotel, which gave us incredible views of the fort and the sea. The colonial decor matched the rest of the hotel, but wasn’t super comfortable. In addition to the bedroom, there was a living room with a daybed and desk, so there was plenty of space to spread out.
The bed was a beautiful four poster bed, but I found the mattress to be on the firm side. If we were staying longer, I wouldn have asked them for a more comfortable mattress topper.
The bathroom was quaint and had everything we needed, but wasn’t exactly luxurious. Before visiting Amangalla, we were at the St. Regis Maldives, which was modern and updated, so this was a very different type of luxury.
The hotel used to be the colonial headquarters when the Dutch ruled Sri Lanka, and it was eventually converted into a hotel called the New Oriental Hotel. Aman took it over in the early 2000s, but essentially this hotel has been welcoming guests for over 150 years. Very cool! I loved that the property had such a rich history, and some of the original elements had been preserved like the tile on the veranda and the staircase to the garden. Further changes to the hotel (like adding an elevator) are prohibited since it’s a historical site. I found everything from the hallways, veranda, garden, etc to be extremely enchanting. It is really a special hotel.
The front of the hotel has a large open-air veranda, where we enjoyed most of our meals and afternoon tea. Directly inside from the veranda, there is a large lounge called the Zaal, which is the hotel bar but you can also eat here if you prefer.
Large creaky staircases take you up to the rooms, and on the top floor there is a balcony to watch the sun set over Galle. I highly recommend ordering a cocktail and bites here one afternoon for sunset.
Just beyond the check-in area is the pathway to the library, garden and pool. There is a section of the garden where you can have breakfast, which I also recommend doing one morning. It’s so lush and peaceful. A little hideaway.
The pool is one of the most unique hotel pools I’ve ever seen and it speaks for itself. There are sun loungers and cabanas for lazy afternoons serviced by a very attentive pool staff.
The food was a highlight during our stay. They have many local dishes to try at every meal such as egg hoppers for breakfast and Sri Lankan curry for dinner. The visiting chef from Amanwella (Aman’s other property in Sri Lanka) came to our table one morning during breakfast and created a special off-menu curry dinner for us that night. I loved that! Sri Lanka is famous for its tea and since the British also ruled the country for a period of time, afternoon tea is a not-to-be-missed activity. The homemade strawberry jam was simply delicious.
I love Aman’s focus on service, and Amangalla really shined here. Our butler was proactive but not intrusive, and made us feel taken care of during our stay. Our departing flight from Colombo was at 3am, and so we expected they would either kick us out of our room or ask us to pay a half-day rate to stay in our room until we had to depart for the airport. To our surprise, they allowed us to use our room until we needed to leave for the airport around 11pm.. It was really nice to not feel rushed out of our room at the end of our time there.
The housekeeping staff was also incredible. Every time we left our room, it was refreshed and they went out of their way to polish/clean every pair of shoes we brought on this trip. They were so kind and helpful, and it felt rare to have those kinds of interactions with housekeeping.
Activities and excursions
There are a lot of activities available at Amangalla. Unfortunately, we were only staying for about 2.5 days, so we didn’t do anything that took us away from Galle. My favorite activity was getting a tour of the Fort by one of the local staff members.
Fun fact: we learned on the tour that Aman has also purchased a building around the corner from Amangalla that is rumored to be another hotel or extension of the current property.
I also loved the beautiful and peaceful spa called “The Baths.” They have 2 separate spa baths complete with jacuzzi, cold plunge pool, steam and sauna that you can reserve on a first come, first served basis.
There are also several treatment rooms for massages that I thought were reasonably priced at about 95USD per treatment. I decided on an Amangalla massage, which was relaxing but not a great deep-tissue massage in my opinion.
I would absolutely recommend staying at Amangalla 2-3 nights as part of a longer visit to Sri Lanka. The hotel rooms are generally about the same size, but the pricier rooms definitely have better views. Be sure to ask for a tour of Galle from a local staff member.