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“Nice to be back home”
Review of The Fortress

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The Fortress
Ranked #1 of 5 Hotels in Koggala
Certificate of Excellence
Level 6 Contributor
110 reviews
71 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 57 helpful votes
“Nice to be back home”
Reviewed April 5, 2012

This was my third visit and it's now where I want to go to just relax. They get the basics right and that leaves you to relax and chill.
Bed is really comfy, rooms are quite, blackout blind means a lay in in the morning is possible, open the blinds and a fantastic view awaits you. Food is great, service is attentive but not overpowering.

Looking forward to going back again!

  • Stayed March 2012, traveled as a couple
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1 Thank XKR100
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Leek, United Kingdom
Level 3 Contributor
12 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
Reviewed April 2, 2012

As many people have already stated, arrival at The Fortress is an experience that simply takes your breath away. When the huge, wooden gates open it feels like you are stepping onto the set of a James Bond film! I expected a man stroking a cat to step up and say: "We've been expecting you...."

Jokes aside, first impressions are important and you really feel like you have arrived somewhere special, an oasis of tranquility from the hustle an bustle of the rest of Sri Lanka. Despite the obvious luxury of the hotel, the staff were friendly and informal and we had another pleasant surprise when we we upgraded to an Ocean View room. The room was more than comfortable, and our first impressions matched those we had on arrival. The view of the sea through the patio doors framed by elegant blinds, high vaulted ceiling, wooden floors, mood lighting and state-of-the art entertainment system all left you with the impression that you were staying somewhere special.

The open plan bathroom also looked fantastic but presented a few practical problems due to that fact we were travelling with our seven-year-old son, particularly the fact that the shower cubicle is completely transparent rather than frosted glass (as is the toilet). The free standing bath also looks stunning but with no door or curtain separating the living areas of the room you do feel a bit exposed! Great if you're a couple on a romantic holiday, less so for a family staying in the one room.

When it came to sleeping arrangements, the king sized double is really comfortable and the seating area was converted into another double bed - more than adequate for our son.

As stated previously, the staff were friendly and helpful, they would do anything you ask. However, as seems the norm in Sri Lanka, they can be a bit disorganised and don't expect them to wait on you all the time. In fact on one day we spent around the pool, only once did they come around to ask if there was anything we wanted or needed. In other parts of the world, in hotels with less staff and more guests, we have been asked far more frequently.

Before booking this hotel it is also worth remembering that it is not really a family hotel and there's not a lot for children. We stayed during the first test of the England cricket test in Galle and the clientele was almost entirely British with a good cross section of people from all different backgrounds - we made some great friends. However, at other times I suspect it is very upmarket with a lot of people on their honeymoon.

As for the food, choice is a bit limited compared to larger hotels but of a very high standard (apart from breakfast which was not as good as other, less expensive hotels we stayed in during our tour of Sri Lanka). Agonisingly slow toaster, cold baked beans and very limited choice of traditional Sri Lankan breakfasts (just one curry). Lovely fruit etc though.

Dining in the evening is expensive by Sri Lankan standards but not ridiculous when compared to eating out at home. A meal for three, with a couple of beers and a couple of soft drinks typically cost around £50-£60 - the same as a good pub meal or small restaurant in the UK.

A few people have posted here that there is no beach outside, there is and it looks beautiful with a reef just in front of it where you can see wild turtles. You can't swim directly in front of the hotel as it's not safe but just 20 yards away there is a small area protected by the reef that is safe for a dip. Here you will also find a small public park with its own shop selling ice cream and snacks at a fraction of the price of the hotel.

Overall then, a fantastic place to stay and The Fortress lives up to the impression you get when looking at the holiday brochures.

  • Stayed March 2012, traveled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank FishermanMart
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Riga, Latvia
Level 6 Contributor
72 reviews
63 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 47 helpful votes
Reviewed March 28, 2012

HOTEL - highly recognized by architectural community for its unique design, the hotel is at the same time very cosy and welcoming and is a pure pleasure for the eye and senses. Huge fortress like reception hall brings a lot of air and openness in the establishment, and you are close to the ocean all the time and wherever you are.

ROOMS - we have been upgraded 3 times in the hotel, which was due to our late booking and our desire to stay there by any means, so we were really jumping from room to room and saw all types of rooms in the hotel (including presidential suite). We were stunned when entered the STANDARD room - super-contemporary amenities, spatious room, ipod music, separately standing bathroom, huge chillout sofa - very clean design. View on the ocean and marvellously lighted pool area - superb. The BEACH ROOM is located on the first floor and while it is located closer to the ocean, I did not see many advantages as compared to the standard room. Some of the beach rooms have a pool inside, however the water in the pool is quite cold, so I would really suggest the standard room or at least one without the pool, since it provides additional humidity in the room. Well, the presidential suite with a separate roof pool is amazing - I will not comment on that.

BREAKFAST - beautiful selection of local and european food.

BEACH - to the left of the hotel the beach is often crowded with locals, but they do not mind and do not bother if you join them for a swim, we even managed to join some dancing party on the beach and were very much welcomed. That is also the only place to swim net to the hotel. A lot of hotel guests were going there without any problem. To the right of the hotel there is a marvellous neverending stretch of white beach, where nobody swims because of strong waves, but you can do amazing long walks along the beach.

SERVICE - everybody's comment was that for the prices you pay the service is very slow, though everybody is trying hard and in the end everything was perfect. It seems like personnell has not been trained very well. Waiting for drinks at the pool for 30 minutes - was pretty standard situation.

SPA - a little overpriced and not very professional. But you can always go into the exterior spa area available to all guests with 2 saunas and jakuzzi.

I loved the place and whenever I will go to Sri Lanka, I am sure, I will stay 1-2 days here to sink into pure and overwhelming luxury.

  • Stayed February 2012, traveled with friends
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank IneseJurevica
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed March 27, 2012

I stayed at the Fortress for 2 nights with some of my friends. Overall the hotel was an amazing property and a treat for the eyes! As soon as we entered through the dramatic main entrance we were greeted with a welcome drink and were offered a tour of the hotel. And to make things even better one of our rooms were upgraded to an Ocean Loft; so we had room No.12 which was the Ocean Room and room No.13 which was the Ocean Loft. Since both the rooms faced the ocean, needless to say we were treated to amazing views 24/7. Apart from this, our ocean loft had its very own plunge pool and could easily sleep upto 4 adults. The breakfast at the hotel was very satisfying and had a wide range of Sri Lankan and Continental cuisine. Apart from this we had dinner from the hotel's a la carte menu and were able to choose from traditional Sri Lankan rice and curry to steaks to east Asian dishes. The hotel's pool is a stunning vision during the day time and since this hotel is more of a boutique hotel than a resort, it is not as crowded. However coming to the negatives of the hotel, room no.13 had a minor leak in the bathroom ceiling and it took some time for the hotel's maintenance to figure out the problem and sort it out. Although this was a relatively minor issue, these are not the sort of problems you expect to encounter in a hotel of this calibre. Also whoever who would like to stay at this hotel needs to understand that there is not much a beach along this property and it is definitely not safe to swim in the part of the ocean by the hotel. We had our own driver, hence getting to Unawatuna was not a problem for us. I would recommend this hotel especially to couples due to the quiet ambience of this hotel. In fact one of my best friends will be spending her honeymoon here. If you are a traveller who prefers boutique hotels to larger resorts, then the Fortress is definitely a place to be experienced.

Room Tip: Definitely go for a room with an ocean view!
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  • Stayed December 2011, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
2 Thank Sharan2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
1 review
Reviewed March 25, 2012

Aboslutely stunning hotel! We had an ocean loft with plunge - amazing! Wedding planner made our day very special indeed. Lots of attention to detail, excellent staff, would most definately revisit this hotel! Met a man on our beach called Susil who was excellent at arranging all of our tours, lovely man, very knowledable and cheap, highly recommended. Thank you to everyone at The Fortress for making our wedding day so perfect!

Room Tip: Room 15 Ocean Loft
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  • Stayed March 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank hazelnails
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Aberdeenshire, United Kingdom
Level 3 Contributor
14 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
Reviewed March 25, 2012

Just returned from an outstanding 12 nights at the Fortress, Koggala. We were wowed from the moment we arrived, all the weariness of our long, long journey immediately banished by the stunning building itself and the reception staff. And like other reviewers, even though you think you know what to expect, slipping through that inner gate to the main courtyard and "that" view, simply takes your breath away. We arrived at night and it seemed to make it even more special. The room, an Ocean Room for us, was amazing although showing some signs of wear and tear in places. The quality of the materials from the marble in the walk in shower to the comfort of the bed, pillows and bed linen, all shout 5 star and you do feel you are getting value for the room rate. Housekeeping was excellent and the rooms kept spotlessly clean. Lots of lovely hi-tech mod cons to keep you happy plus a really effective and quiet air con system to make you comfortable at night.
The food was excellent and even though we booked B&B only, we ended up eating all our meals here. Yes, the food and drink prices reflect the status of the hotel but if you have paid out for the hotel, why skimp on the dining experience? We actually spent less than we expected on food and wine and that included using the mini bar some days - a happy surprise. We agree that the menu can seem a bit limiting at first but there are three buffet nights through the week to add choice and all are excellent. Breakfast a particular delight with a capable chef team on hand to cook you anything from a perfect fried egg to omelette and pancakes. Do try the egg hoppers or curry and milk cake for breakfast as they are delicious.
There was the occasional sense of disorganisation amongst the waiting staff with us often being approached by three different people for our order then left waiting for drinks. However special mention to Michelle and Sugath for their attention and keen eye that we were wanting something. Other great service from Samith on reception, always ready with a smile and checking we were happy with everything.
We used one of the beach touts, Sescil, for our trips out and about after a recommendation from another couple. He sits by the two central palm trees on the sea wall and wears a black hat with white stripes. We would highly recommend him as trust worthy, reliable and well priced. Just tell him what you do or don't what to see and he'll sort you out. We would also recommend his jewellery contact, Wimalarathna Gem and Jewellery on Wackwella Road in Galle. Exceptional jewellery made up just for you and at a very good price.
Overall, an fantastic holiday in an amazing location - we will return!

Room Tip: Ocean Suite for the stunning view and being able to lie in bed and watch the ocean - what a start to...
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  • Stayed March 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank ocean66
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Singapore
Level 6 Contributor
104 reviews
44 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 99 helpful votes
Reviewed March 23, 2012

I made the mistake of thinking we were staying in the historic Fort area in Galle when my husband said we were booked at the SLH (Small Luxury Hotel) called The Fortress. It turned out that we were a couple of miles further out at the Koggala beach front area in a charmingly architectured development which although having an air of historicity about it is actually a new build.

What was most impressive was the grand entrance. The car had to stop in front of a massive wooden gate beyond which it could go no further. Proceeding on foot across the well-landscaped courtyard to the open concept lobby ahead of us, we were greeted by a smiling server on top of the steps with a welcome drink in her hand. Check in was a breeze, and we were personally escorted to our beach room by our butler who took great pains to walk us through the high-tech room with its top-of-the-line equipment (including a Nespresso coffee machine). The bed was laid out with a pretty pattern of freshly-strewen rose petals both the nights we were there.

I liked that we were on the ground floor, which allowed us to walk straight onto the beach and to the well laid out pools. What i did not understand was why there was a small square pool of water in the little sitting area leading out to the patio, too small to stretch out in to swim, and missing a jacuzzi which would have made sense of this provision. The spacious bathroom had an excellent jacuzzi however.

Service was first class and we enjoyed our breakfast and dinner in the main restaurant there, spoiled only by the need to watch out for crows which were a constant feature.

I would have given this hotel an excellent rating if not for: a) its location from Galle town, b) the same tropical resort feel at the swimming pool area that one gets from other resort hotels in Asia (in contrast to the Jetwing Lighthouse that we visited en route), and c) its lacking the authentic feel of a true blue historic building.

Room Tip: You need to book early if you want an ocean facing room, as this is a much sought after award-winnin...
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  • Stayed February 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Location
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Helpful?
2 Thank lilacfields
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about The Fortress

Property: The Fortress
Address: Route A2, Matara Road, Koggala 82104, Sri Lanka
Phone Number:
Location: Sri Lanka > Southern Province > Galle District > Koggala
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 5 Hotels in Koggala
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:5 star — The Fortress 5*
Number of rooms: 53
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
A luxury 53 room boutique resort located on the Southern shores of Sri Lanka. The Fortress has been styled after Galle’s powerful ancient Dutch Fort, blending the country’s Dutch and Portuguese influences with Sri Lankan motifs and indigenous furnishings to echo the historic days of Old Ceylon. This has been artfully and sensitively fused with innovative architecture, high design features, state-of-the-art technology, sensual living spaces with naturally modern design, and incredible gastronomic experiences, to stunning effect. The Fortress will offer unprecedented levels of service, extraordinary innovation, attention to detail and a unique blend of Old Ceylon with Modern Asia. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
The Fortress Hotel Koggala
Fortress Hotel Galle
Fortress Galle
Fortress Sri Lanka

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