Amangalla, Sri Lanka
Hot off the press from Amangalla Resort in Sri Lanka.
Amangalla is part of the exclusive Aman Resorts chain. Built on Sri Lanka’s Southern Peninsula in the town of Galle, it is housed within a 400 year old Dutch fort and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Amangalla features colonial style rooms connected around a central garden area and is designed with antiques and furnishings from the bygone era.
Usually I rant and rave about my favorite hotel chain, Aman Resorts. I’ve had the most extraordinary experiences of my life set up through Aman and so, maybe my expectations of them have been set a bit too high. In an effort to be transparent and honest about my recent experience at Amangalla, I am going to tell it like it happened (I don’t like when bloggers sugar coat everything).
My husband and I landed at Colombo Airport in the middle of the night. Amangalla was supposed to send a car to pick us up and drive us the 2.5 hours from the airport to the resort. We were pretty shocked to find that Amangalla had not sent anyone. From my experience at the past 15 or so Aman Resorts that I have been a guest at, I have never had them overlook any detail, especially something like this. When I called Amangalla from the airport, frustrated and tired, they did not give me any reason why this had happened and did not seem very concerned. (even though I had called and confirmed our car just a few weeks prior). They said they would try to find someone to come pick us up. They kept giving me false news of what time the driver would actually arrive. First it was going to be 20 minutes, and then 30, and then an hour, and finally we ended up waiting 2 hours for someone to show up. With a 2.5 hour drive ahead of us, we were not happy about the situation, especially given that it was the middle of the night in a foreign country.
When our driver did show up, his car had a sign from a different hotel on it. It was an old beater that smelled horribly of gasoline. The driver had us sit on newspaper because the seats were wet. Who knows why? Was this really happening through Aman? Usually when you book a car through Aman, they show up on time with cold towels and water bottles. Not this time!
Alright, my rant is over. Once we finally arrived at Amangalla, we forgot all about our little airport episode. The property was so unique. It felt like we had gone through a time warp. Everything was furnished in an old classic colonial style and was so charming.
The pool courtyard was my favorite part of Amangalla. Lush greenery surrounded a jade-tiled pool with posh daybeds and food service. It was backed by old stone walls that were covered in ivy. Palm trees sprouted out in front of us, creating a serene little oasis setting that blocked out the noise of the busy fort.
I thoroughly enjoyed my Sri Lankan breakfast by the pool and was excited to get out and explore Galle; even though I was pretty tired from arriving so late the night before.
A Tour of the Galle Fort
Amangalla sent us off with a private guide to explore the fort. The town inside the fort was charming and clean. We learned of its eventful history as well as all of the different ethnicities and religions that live peacefully intertwined within the walls.
Local gem cutters polished stones while women worked on weaving delicate fabrics. We were surrounded by quaint little shops, the sea, and a towering lighthouse. An odd barrage of snake charmers, cliff divers, and jewelers all stood around trying to sell their product or service to the tourists. I may have given in to the snake charmer…and the diver…and the jeweler. Easy target over here!
The town outside of the fort was a lot cleaner than I was expecting, having just come from India. It was bustling with tuk tuks, pedestrians, bikes and a few cars. Local markets spotted the streets. Fresh fruits and veggies were everywhere, and we even found some delicious curries, spices, and saffron to bring home with us.
Overall, my experience at Amangalla was a positive one. The wonderful service provided by the staff somewhat made up for our arrival situation, but my husband and I were a bit shocked when they decided to charge us full price for the airport transfer that showed up 2 hours late and ended up being a very uncomfortable car. After I showed my dissatisfaction they offered to take half off of the transfer.
Luckily we experienced a very comfortable ride to our next destination, Amanwella, which was another 2 hour drive from Amangalla. Stay tuned for my review of Amanwella.
- Triple check your car transfer to make sure they actually show up
- Allow yourself at least 2 full days to explore Galle
- The best time to visit Galle is November through April when there is less rain.
- Do have breakfast by the pool
- Make sure you get advice on which tuk tuks are good to take and which aren’t.
- Whale watching can be great between December and March
- Colombo airport is 2.5 hours away so factor that into your plans
- WiFi does not work very well