When I booked The Dutch House I didn’t give it a second thought. Usually when I organise our travel plans, each hotel is meticulously planned, researched and then researched again. But with a busy month and a whole lot of new changes going on, I barely looked past the fact that it was in Galle. That and the fact that Rick Stein had stayed there when he filmed one of his BBC adventures. So when it came to leaving our beautiful 5* hotel, The Fortress to head there I was a little nervous. Ok, a lot nervous!
Located further inland than The Fortress, The Dutch House is hidden away at the top of Lady Hill (can you think of a chicer address than that?). Amongst gated houses and enchanting secret gardens it’s not what you’d expect from your typical hotel. In fact it felt a little like we were trespassing into someones house. The long drive was lined with fire torches and it all seemed very mysterious. Eerie even. Greeted by a lone staff member and a barking dog (more on him later!), we tentatively stepped inside.
Soft lighting lit our way through to the lounge area where we were met with with crammed book shelves, cosy sofas and arty coffee table books I couldn’t wait to get into. Leading through to a beautiful courtyard full of candles and exotic flowers, we were silently ushered to our room with a cold towel on the way to wash away the journey. Our room was rustic yet beautiful and reminded me of a sleek safari lodge. Think woven baskets, quirky sculptures and an antique four-poster bed clad in white mosquito drapes behind a curtained archway.
Granted the no-glass-in-the-windows thing threw me initially (there’s just wooden shutters at night), but when we spent stormy afternoons reading on the bed, there was something soothing about being able to smell the rain and watch the clouds. What we weren’t expecting was to be able to shower underneath it as the roof in the bathroom was partialy open air. I’ve always thought that an outside shower was the epitome of tropical living so having a small element of that without crossing into lizard territory was perfect.
Although we were used to Bulgari amenities in The Fortress, I actually fell in love with the homemade organic products at The Dutch house. Cinnamon scrub from the next village and coconut bars of soap left my skin soft and smelling heavenly. Even the tiny pot of eucalyptus mosquito balm was an absolute godsend when we got eaten alive! Side note: Mosquitos are EVERYWHERE, even with repellent!
It’s not hard to understand the type of experience The Dutch House want you to have. It’s not a resort and it’s not a B&B, it’s a home away from home that allows you to have complete privacy and calm as if it is your own. From their gorgeous dog (Dennis) laying at your feet to your very own breakfast table outside of your door and the hand scrawled menu straight from the kitchen where the chef has returned from the market.
Dinner is served every evening at The Dutch House’s sister property, The Sun House across the road. Just as beautiful, the hotel is a little sleeker and a touch more modern with all the romanticism of its partner. We sat on the porch underneath the trees with only another couple and tiny fireflies for company. The food was without a doubt the best we had in Sri Lanka – cream of coconut soup, jumbo prawns and caramel rum bananas – made for a mouth-watering feast.
The next three days were spent reading by the infinity pool, napping under the canopy and sampling the homemade ginger tea on the lawn. As the prayer call rung out and Dennis trotted around us it was a completely different kind of luxury that we weren’t used to.
It’s not a resort and it’s not a B&B it’s a home away from home
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