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“Overpriced 3 star hotel that really needs an upgrade. Don't stay there if you don't like ants in your bathroom”
Review of The Dutch House

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The Dutch House
Ranked #18 of 24 Hotels in Galle
Reviewed April 1, 2012

We read the reviews online and saw the amazing pictures on their website before we booked the Ball Room at the Dutch House. It was a lovely house, and I could hang out in the courtyard all day long.

The ball room itself was a lovely room. Very high ceilings and nice decoration. All was great until we went to the bathroom. There were thousands of ants in the bathroom. I did try my best to live with it (as the manager Henri said, "hey, this is sri lanka. there's ants everywhere") until the next morning, I found a few ants' dead body in my water (and I did drink that water at night with the lights off) and a few ants in my towel. Then we asked them to spray the room twice a day but that didn't really solve the problem. And during my stay in this hotel, I was almost convinced that EVERY hotel in sri lanka has ants in their bathroom, until we got to the hotel in colombo, which was an old colonial house as well, but had ZERO ants. And there is always stuff falling off the ceiling of the bathroom, so the towel would get very dusty by the time when you get back to the hotel in the evening.

The room rate was 405 per night (including tax and service charge) and with that kind of price, one would expect Le Bristol Paris sort of service. But considering what they charge, they service was appalling, which I don't blame on the staff as you can tell they haven't received much training , and that they are not particularly motivated (Henri told us not to tip anyone as she thinks it's easier that way). Don't get me wrong, we think the manager is a very friendly lady, and she has been helpful to us, but it doesn't feel like the hotel is managed properly. On our last day there, the air conditioning started to leak water, and we had to walk through a fountain before we could enter the bathroom and this lasted for about 1hr before they sent someone over to fix it.

We had dinner in the restaurant at the Sun House. Overpriced and very average food. We were expecting some amazing Sri Lanka + western fusion food (as described by lots of reviews), and we got some chinese eggplant (which tastes like takeaway food in London). We told them many times my husband was vegetarian, and the manager said that shouldnt be a problem. But they still served squid to him as starter. After we complained, he got some green leaves with some balsamic vinegar on top (and a few ants on the leaves). The ambiance was great though...Also the sri lank breakfast from the hotel is worth trying.

I would not recommend this hotel.

  • Stayed: February 2012, traveled as a couple
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6  Thank lxdaisy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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40 - 46 of 56 reviews

Reviewed February 28, 2012

Stayed at the Dutch House for just one night. Room was lovely. Met Henri the posh english manageress woman who was very nice. The local staff were a bit more hyper-subservient than I personally like, and it just sort of seemed a bit empty somehow. Quiet is good obviously, but somehow I felt there could have been a bit more of a buzz about the place.

Inifinity pool is very nice.

Basically, solid thumbs-up. We stayed at the Secret Garden in Unawatuna for three night nights after this though, which was less than half the price, and not much less pleasant. I guess that's just the law of diminishing returns when it comes to smart hotels.

  • Stayed: February 2012, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank additasum
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 31, 2011

We can not fault the beautiful old house and grounds but the service or lack of from the manager, Henri, was irritating. The staff were friendly and tried to be as helpful as possible but they did not seem to have had much training. We agree totally with one of the previous reviews that the two properties, the Sun House and Dutch House, were the private entertainment area of the manager. On one of the nights, there was a 'charity party' with loud music which Henri said would end at 11pm. The music did not stop until well past 1am as well as all the noise that all of the non-staying guests were making as they were drinking and smoking on the lawn. Although this was not my idea was a boutique hotel experience, it was not a big problem. However, we did expect at least some attempt at an apology from Henri the next morning but of course, there was none. We've seen other old properties inside the Galle Fort that may not be as fancy but perhaps would have more heart and soul.

  • Stayed: December 2011, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank Ladybug789
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 23, 2011

My wife and I had originally booked into the sister hotel of the Dutch House ( The Sun House) but when the management offered to show us round the Dutch house we were bowled over.
One big plus was that for most of our 9 night stay we had the whole place (and staff) to ourselves.
We live in an old property in the UK and sometimes find that hotel rooms can be a bit small in comparison to what we are used to - No problem of this nature with our suite in the Dutch House.
We had what used to be the "ballroom" of the house. High ceiling and a great feeling of space.
Management and Staff could not have been better throughout our stay.
If it helps we saw round all the 4 suites as the House was empty and this was our preferred option.
Breakfast was great "chilli eggs a must try" - Dinner was offered at the Sun House across the road and again was of a high standard. We did venture out in the evenings however and there are a few good hotel restaurants in the Fort.
If I were to be honest I might have a concern if all the suites were occupied. It might just change the great ambience my wife and I were fortunate to have experienced during our visit.
I can safely say however that im sure we will return to The Dutch House at some point.

Room Tip: The Ballroom is the best in my opinion
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  • Stayed: September 2011, traveled as a couple
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Thank AllanWanderlust
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 9, 2011

Probably the best place i have stayed in world wide! You have to experience it for yourself, it's hard to say in a review what makes this place so special, for some it wont seem 5 star, but i am one picky traveller and this place had me from the moment i walked in, heaven! We stayed in the Ball Room and theres not a single thing i would change. Make sure you eat at The Sun House and a have drink or two in the bar, they are all so friendly and make amazing food(not that i had a bad meal the entire Sri Lanka trip) I highly recommend the Dutch House to everyone, and i want to go back! Please make a trip to Wijaya Beach Cafe for lunch/dinner, it's a must! Yay for Sri Lanka!!

Room Tip: All looked great, we were on our honeymoon and they suggested Ball Room
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  • Stayed: December 2011, traveled as a couple
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Thank Pipaya
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 31, 2011

When we were told on arrival that we were being upgraded to the Dutch House as the Sun House where we were booked to stay was being renovated, we didn't know quite what to expect. But one peep into the cool recesses of the high-ceilinged living room filled with books, lamps and deep sofas convinced us we were onto a good thing.

The suite we were allotted was beautiful and had what I would certainly not hesitate to call the loveliest bathroom in the world! Grey cement his and hers wash basins with old-style fittings, large ornate mirrors and a beautiful old tub in the middle of the floor! Clean white bath linen and dear little silver and glass containers for bath scrub and shampoo in the bath area.

The sitting room attached to the bedroom had lovely old style wooden windows opening out onto the garden, a bookshelf with an eclectic selection of books, a seating area and a desk with of information on facilities / things to do etc and a beautifully designed map of Galle Fort. The bedroom was lovely too. The AC didn’t work properly but we were to blown away with everything else to bother complaining. Someone connected with this place is a perfectionist with a great eye for detail.

The lunch we had in the deep veranda was exquisitely set out with lovely crockery and cutlery and the girls who served us were discrete, gracious and helpful. We didn't use the pool but spent our evening enjoying the house and gardens. We had dinner at the Sun House that has a restaurant that serves both properties and the manager agreed to let us have a look at the celebrated Cinnamon Suite the next day. It was a bit overrated to be honest and we are so very lucky to have ended up spending the night of my 50th birthday next door quite by fluke!

  • Stayed: March 2011, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank GoanBananas68
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 17, 2010

I hardly ever write reviews. The small number of reviews for this property indicates that most visitors feel a similar selfish desire for secrecy when chancing on a gem. But not enough to vote Dutch House in the top 10 (Asia Hotels) of the Conde Naste Gold List 2010 – a huge achievement for a 4 room property.

This was our second visit to the Dutch House (previous was in 2005), this time we had 7 wonderful days. Wonderful.

LOCATION
To explain, the Dutch House and Sun House are opposite each other on a small hill above Galle Fort (10 min walk) - with the advantage of quite and cooling breeze. Galle is a pretty town on the SW coast of Sri Lanka, and for my money, the most charming. Currently a pain to get to (3 hours from the airport) – it will soon be opened up by the opening of the highway in 2011/12, which will make the airport less than 2 hours away. The only real downside is that the beach is a good 15min tuk-tuk ride away (out of town).

DESCRIPTION
The Dutch House is 4 suites within a historic 1712 Dutch captain's house. These are tastefully decorated, with plenty of space. There is a huge veranda, common library, croquet lawn and wonderful swimming pool. Our room, the old ballroom, was over 10m long, and 7m high (2 stories).

SERVICE
The property is managed by Henri, a highly organised English lady who left a PR career nearly 10 years ago, to manage the set of properties the owner has renovated through Sri Lanka. Henri now also manages one of the most active post Tsunami charities on the island. She was not there on this visit, but I had met her previously and she was charming in communications. She has a good day manager who checks every day of we needed excursions organized, and to arrange our dining requirements.

The property itself is staffed with the usual compliment of gardeners and security, while there is 4 dedicated staff to the guests. The ladies who support the guests are charming and speak good English. Their approach is discrete (rather than overly forward), but are always available (will stay up as long as guests are up). The rooms are tidied during breakfast, cleaned more thoroughly during the day, and turned down and tidies while at dinner.

Let me mention the owner, Geoffrey Dobbs (a investment banking millionaire, and now active philanthropist). He may be around when you visit (he spends a few weeks a year at the property), and he is a slice of anglo eccentricity. However, he was astute to our desire for distance. When he is there he is more colour than anything else.

FOOD – excuse my focus on costs, but I was incensed by Anonymous’ comments in this area (the review actually set my expectations, which are pleasantly improved upon)

There are plenty of breakfast (formally at a cost, but this was waived for us) choices and lunch snacks – and the cake for tea is sublime (complimentary).

Dinner can be taken in the Dutch House, but the restaurant is in the Sun House. Focused on fish, it is nothing short of fantastic (the best food we had in Sri Lanka). Henri has astutely formed relationships with a number of well known chefs, and Rick Stein regularly sends his staff to the Sun House to train the kitchen. Dinner costs between $12 and $20 per person. Wine (as throughout the island) is not cheap (but similar to UK restaurants) – while beer is $2 a bottle. Compare this to a recent visit to the Bahamas where we rarely spent less than $100 for 2 for dinner and beer could be as high as $10 per bottle.

Local Gin was $2 per large measure, while imported whiskey etc was between $4 and $5.5. In all considerations, reasonable.

CONCLUSION
The Dutch house is a fantastic boutique luxury experience. Most guests are here for a short visit while touring (as we did on our first visit). I can heartily recommend a longer stay as an alternative (as we did) to the Caribbean or Maldives – and at bargain prices in comparison.

The staff have managed to keep the standards high at the Dutch House (typically in Sri Lankan properties, the benefits of great design are rarely kept up with spending any money on regular maintenance) – although Henri, if you read this, you really need to replace those night lights (hey, one gripe is not too bad!)

The infinity pool does not make this child friendly to the very young (there is a restriction to the under 13). As my wife and I are trying for kids, I will be praying it will be many years before our return. But return we will. My advice – go, go, go!

  • Stayed: November 2010, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank APURKISS
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about The Dutch House

Address: 18 Upper Dickson Rd, Galle 80000, Sri Lanka
Location: Sri Lanka > Southern Province > Galle District > Galle
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Restaurant Room Service Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#7 Romantic Hotel in Galle
#12 Luxury Hotel in Galle
Price Range: $378 - $562 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — The Dutch House 4*
Number of rooms: 4
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Also Known As:
The Dutch House Hotel Galle
Dutch Hotel Galle

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