- Wendy Gomersall checked into the Fort Bazaar
- The new boutique hotel is located in the Sri Lankan city of Galle
- It opened 18 months ago, with plans to include a spa, cinema and pool
Porridge is my breakfast of choice, perked up with berries and ground almonds if I’m feeling a bit daring. But what would it be like to have something more exotic at 8am – a zingy, tongue-tingling curry perhaps?
Chicken curry hoppers caught my eye on the breakfast menu at the new boutique Fort Bazaar hotel in the Sri Lankan city of Galle.
Hoppers, the waiter explained, are fermented rice and coconut milk pancakes, served with juicy chicken and smothered in a spicy sauce. Nothing ventured and all that, so I ordered some, sipping a nice cup of Ceylon tea while we waited.
Following the Brexit vote, poor old sterling isn’t doing so well against the euro, so if you’re planning a winter holiday, you might as well head east for a long-haul adventure. Personally, I found Sri Lanka to be not quite as adventurous as India – but in a good way.
We especially liked Galle. This handsome fortified city was founded by the Portuguese in the 16th Century, also features the architectural influences of Dutch and British rule, and has lots of charm.
You can amble along the stone sea walls for coastal views and a peek at the private gardens of some of the properties.
Galle Fort is well established as a favoured holiday destination of the well-to-do, so you’re also going to find great shops selling a mouthwatering selection of gemstone jewellery, clothes, handicrafts and homeware.
Excursions on offer include a trip to Mirissa for a spot of whale-watching, but my advice is to avoid Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage – it’s nice to see the animals walking down to the river for a wallow, but watching the babies being bottle-fed turns into a bun fight. I was also distressed by the number of animals chained up and looking unhappy.
Accommodation-wise, there are bigger leisure resorts in which to stay, away from the city centre and sitting beside the Indian Ocean. But if you want somewhere different, the chic 18-room Fort Bazaar Hotel (it is actually within the fort) is wonderful. It opened 18 months ago, with plans to include a spa, ten-seater cinema and pool.
While the pool is being finished, clients are transferred free of charge to enjoy the pool and gardens at the Lighthouse Hotel, about ten minutes away by tuk-tuk – an adventure in itself. The inconvenience is reflected in the cheaper rates on offer.
Meanwhile, the Fort Bazaar’s cool, calm rooms are tastefully furnished, with four-poster beds, cable TV and coffee machines. Some open out on to a sweet alfresco courtyard, with comfy sofas on which to read or sip a pre-dinner cocktail.
Eating hotspots, all a short walk away, include posh dining at the renowned Amangalla hotel in the former governor’s mansion, and the less formal establishments, such as The Tuna & The Crab at the Dutch Hospital complex.
Fort Bazaar’s own Church Street Social is already being described as one of the best on the south coast, serving a selection of international and local dishes.
And you surely won’t find a more scrumptious brekkie than chicken curry hoppers…
Rooms at the Fort Bazaar Hotel cost from £144 a night, based on a three-night stay, including breakfast, minibar soft drinks, afternoon tea, early evening cocktails and wi-fi.
Sri Lankan Airlines (srilankan.com) offers return flights from Heathrow to Colombo from £456.