There’s no doubt that its not just Brits and local residents that have woken up to the viability of UNESCO World Heritage Site Galle Fort as a unique destination experience. Barefoot, Luv SL, Spa Ceylon, Calorie Counter, Sugar and The Tuna & The Crab, A Minute by Tuk Tuk, among others, Sri Lankan brands are liking what Galle Fort has to offer. So it should come as no surprise that a boutique leisure brand should also see the potential. Except Taru Villas is no ordinary leisure brand. As LT have consistently found, Taru Villas properties hit the mark on all aspects of luxurious holiday destinations, from food to service, to comfort, to unique style, this is one of Sri Lanka’s most well-rounded leisure brands. And their two recent additions to their portfolio and the Galle Fort, Taru Villas Rampart Street and Taru Villas Lighthouse Street keep their standards high. The properties are both renovated homes inside the Galle Fort, and feature similarities that are unique to the brand, matched seamlessly with the individual and distinct charm of the space it occupies.
Intimate and luxurious are the first words that flit to mind as soon as you step in to the cool interiors of Taru Villas – Rampart Street and also, its sister property Taru Villas – Lighthouse Street. These lovingly restored post-colonial Villas are an enchanting union of timeless charm married with the comforts of modern living. Each property has its own history and story. Both Villas share Taru’s powerful design aesthetic involving traditional Sri Lankan antique furnishings, which are further complimented by an eclectic mix of contemporary pieces of art, and vintage photographs, while ancient hand-drawn maps of the coastal town adorn the walls.
The Rampart Street property features spacious living areas that open up to a picturesque, landscaped courtyard featuring an aquamarine pool nestled amidst lush foliage. It’s a truly blissful private escape within the walls of the Fort, offering guests an imitable slice of tropical paradise. Somewhat different in size, the Lighthouse Street property features an indoor garden that leads up to a chic little rooftop, presenting picture perfect panoramic views of the Galle Fort skyline against the backdrop of the endless Indian Ocean.
Both properties are fully serviced and each have a total of four double rooms, available either individually or as a complete villa. The airy and spacious rooms are beautifully decorated, with rustic furniture and wooden floors complimented subtly by all the standard mod cons. Most rooms also feature plush four-poster beds with crisp white linen, as high thread count cotton sheets and the fluffiest of pillows guarantee good night’s rest. The attached en-suites include monsoon showers and hot water. Depending on your room, the en-suite will vary in size and charm, but for those who like a bit of pampering the suite on the top floor of Taru Villas – Rampart Street features a toilette area with an antique free standing tub that is perfectly positioned to face the ramparts and the sea beyond. The room LT occupied at Rampart Street opened up to the pool and it was lovely to be able to simply open the bedroom door and dive in.
Food and Drink
Now this is truly the first breath of fresh air we have had on the food front, in a while. Many boutique properties in general and in fact most restaurants in the Galle Fort specifically, make menu promises that they can’t honour. And these days, the consumer knows better. There still aren’t a handful of places to eat in, in Galle Fort, that will make you drive out of your way for more. As for Taru Villas, the food and beverage menu is their master stroke. It’s not cheap by local standards but it certainly is competitive with international rates, and more importantly, carry the charm and taste necessary to perfectly position Sri Lanka on a plate (and in a cocktail glass, if you must know).
Taru Villas servea some of the best food around Galle! The sublime Eggs Benedict is becoming famous (we think it should be) but LT on location crave nothing more than a local breakfast. Now here is the Taru Villas pièce de ré·sis·tance, because if you think the Eggs Ben is royal, then wait until you take a bite out of Taru Villas local breakfast. We opted for Kiribath and Fish Curry, with Lunu Miris. Each flavour profile complimented the other in masterful harmony – the use of soft fish cooked gently in a thick gravy elevates this dish to what LT have repeatedly stated of the flagship Taru Villas Rock Villa – this is the best fish curry in Sri Lanka – and we’ve been on this job long enough to say so. Other than breakfast, menus are crafted to suit guest preferences, with international standards receiving a fresh twist, courtesy of the proprietor’s flair with flavour. The Chef is always amenable to suggestions and if you book either villa as whole you can pre-set the menus too. Taru Villas prides itself on seasonal fresh produce and in the process, delivers culinary hits that are distinctly, proudly Sri Lankan.
Things To Do
Both villas make ideal home bases from which to explore the attractions of the Galle Fort. It is after all, one of Sri Lanka’s most charming and well-preserved historical sites in the region, offering diverse culture, art, history and significant scenic beauty to immerse oneself in. If strolling through the Fort on the look out for non-commercialised products is not for you, then never fear, some great southern beaches are only a short distance away. Head North down Galle Road for 30 minutes, and find yourself on the wide surf beach of Hikkaduwa, head south and you will find Unawatuna (15 mins), Mirissa (45 mins). And there are countless attractions with all conceivable tourist traps in the area and around, we don’t need to tell you that Galle is a buzzing tourist destination, reflective of our times. The beauty of the Taru Villas properties, as a whole and in these particular instances, are that they offer an authentic escape, with a fair amount of luxury and personalised charm.
What LT Loves
Popsicles! There are bigger treats in store at Taru Villas, but the generic ‘welcome drink’ has finally been given some panache, Sri Lankan style. The refreshing passion fruit & mint ice lolly welcome is the perfectly tart way to acclimatise to your stay.
The quiet beauty of Rampart Street – this property offers a cool oasis to return to, from walking through the heat of the fort. As with its sister on Lighthouse Street, the properties offer a soothing haven from which to decompress from the sometimes grimy Galle experience.
The charm indoors, reflects the cobble-stone charm outside. The décor is personalised to the space, and to life in Sri Lanka – from antiques to art and little touches in between, LT loved the sheer yet unobtrusive character of each property.
Friendly, professional service is a rare find in Sri Lanka, even though things are improving. Ask anyone in hospitality the challenges of managing the dynamic between guests and staff in Sri Lanka and hope they don’t tell you. We think Taru Villas as a whole offer an excellent service, with warm personable staff who do their best to accommodate. This is great in-house training!
The details! Attention to detail is the difference between good and great. This is what the lady behind the brand is known for, and you can find her precision in even the quirkiest of details.
The Galle Fort, Sri Lanka. It’s now just over an hour on southern highway from Colombo and a practically necessary destination experience in Sri Lanka.