Vintage-ish walls. Serendipitously placed bicycles in its imposing alleys. Pink bougainvillea flowers bordering small souvenir shops and quirky cafes. Today’s Galle Fort is that. Add to that are white tuk tuks passing by island’s most aesthetic alleys and doorways. A UNESCO heritage site, this brimming hub of culture is now home to many boutique hotels and villas. Situated in the heart of Galle Fort, on the iconic and historic Church Street is the slickest addition to these, The Fort Bazaar. A charming, beautiful boutique hotel offering luxury and comfort in an ideal location. Fort Bazaar, featured in Condé Nast Traveller’s Hot List is the sister hotel of the famous Wallawwa, situated just 15 minutes from Airport.
Home to 18 guestrooms, including one upper family suite and four banyan rooms, Fort Bazaar is brimmed with colonial structural architecture. The upper family suite features an attic, adding a tad Scandinavian feel to your usual Galle Fort interiors. With a touch of modern authenticity, the hotel offers you plenty of space to relax. The lounge area tiled in abstract patterns is one. But what we fell in love with was their alfresco courtyard accompanying colorful cushions. While the colorful décor reminds you of Disneyland, the frangipani trees bordering the inner courtyard gives the island vibes.
Rooms are spacious, simple and much to our delight feature a minimalistic theme. Upper suites, accompanying their own mini terraces offer you the view of the Indian Ocean and quite splendid views of Galle Fort streets. Four-poster beds with soft linens. The furniture in nude browns and soft palette. Washrooms echoed with elegant wood. All these make you feel right at home with a touch of authenticity.
Inside one cupboard is a mini bar packed with soft drinks. Upper family suite has a teeny library centered around a soft cushioned couch.
Overall, The Bazaar holds a unique feel to it. The common library at the top with cushioned seating and plenty of natural light is the perfect place to sit and relax with a book. The pool, fifty feet in length is to open up later this December. Below that is the soon-to-be-open in-house movie theater with close proximity to the serene ‘Z’ spa. Facing the Church Street are the restaurant, Church Street Social and the bar. The hotel doesn’t have a liquor license yet but expect it to be lively and kicking in near future.
Church Street Social, the charming restaurant of Fort Bazaar facing the historic Church Street (as the name suggests) has lofty interiors with pendulum lights. The restaurant offers plenty of seating space with its outdoor verandah. Albeit located in the middle of the bustling Galle Fort, Church Street Social with jazz music and ceiling fans has a calm, soothing atmosphere.
Their menu expands across oceans with a touch of home taste. Teardrop Hotels has their own vegetable garden to source their ingredients from. And nine goats! Yes, we aren’t kidding. Let’s leave them for another day.
As suggested by the F&B manager, Chamara, we opened up with a Small Mezze Platter (Rs 1950). It had a subtle taste with freshly prepared ingredients including cold meat, olives and capers which added a sourly taste to the dish. Feta cheese was rich in flavor while the blue cheese was a ripe slice of cheese which we didn’t like much. Overall it was a perfect Middle Eastern starter with hummus and mutabal.
The Jumbo Fish Cake (Rs 1150) with a crunchy layer of bread crumbs with tomato salsa on top tasted like heaven. The crispy boneless chunk of fish was the perfect dish to start your gastronomical adventures in Church Street Social.
The mains are priced at around Rs.2000 per dish. We started first with a Barramundi Fillet (Rs 2150). The dish was perfectly cooked, subtly seasoned with a ting of lime on top and came along with mash potatoes and accompanied a chermoula dressing with tomato relish. We think the garlic potato mash was the perfect accompaniment to the local Trincomalee barramundi.
Moroccan Lamb Tagine (Rs 2550) was a dish rich in taste. The prune couscous with a generous amount of tender juicy lamb accompanied with a chargrilled slice of lemon balanced the flavors really well.
While we have future plans on sipping a margarita and an icy cocktail jar, we settled for a Virgin Passion Fruit Mojito and an Island Colada. The Passion Fruit Mojito (Rs 500) was minty, sourly and was a delight in a hot Galle afternoon. The Island Colada (Rs 450), not overly surgery was a fine juice but not overwhelmingly refreshing.
And finally, we tried the Baked Chocolate Orange Fondant (Rs 600) for dessert which came along with vanilla ice-cream and rosemary crème anglaise. It was a total winner. The cake was a perfect gooey chocolate dessert and the vanilla ice-cream was smooth and pleasure for your taste buds.
The F&B manager, Chamara was so nice, friendly and recommended us a few dishes to try on. He was kind enough to check on every dish which was brought to us. The wait-staff was polite, and well-organized. Charunda, who took us around the hotel before our lunch was fabulous. Although he’s not one of the restaurant staff, he checked on us and made sure we had everything we needed.
Overall, we loved our few hours at the Fort Bazaar. If you are planning a weekend trip to Galle, The Fort Bazaar is a fabulous place to stay although the pool and the bar along with the in-house theater aren’t open yet. Church Street Social is a unique place to dine in with chillaxing atmosphere. If you’re around, swing by for lunch and some sweets.
Tip: Church Street Social is famous for its delicious rice & curry. However, we needed to try their fusion cuisine. But if you’re in need for some delicious rice & curry, try out their Rice with Black Pork Curry.