Why House: Located outside of Galle Fort and a short tuk-tuk ride away from Wijaya Beach, Why House feels very bijou chic. Minutes away from the Sri Lankan town of Unawatuna, you’re immediately transported as soon as the gates open into a world of colonial elegance, set in three-acre tropical gardens. Welcomed with a glass of their signature fresh ginger lime soda, you sink into their comfy loungers and admire the tastefully designed décor of the space. The friendly, chatty owner Henrietta (from Stockwell!) sells crafts, accessories, clothing, homewares and knick-knacks made from inspired Sri Lankan materials at her boutique near the entrance, Henritta Loves, and makes you feel immediately at home and like a longstanding friend.
The rooms are surrounded by palm trees and are classically designed, with very lovely bathrooms – fit with the kind of rain shower you don’t want to leave. The gardens, filled with peacocks, butterflies, birdsong and hammocks are nice places to lounge. The stunning pool surrounded by coconut palms and frangipani trees is difficult to drag yourself away from. The hotel’s tuk-tuks, however, are available free of charge to nearby Wijaya Beach. Whilst it’s a crowded scene, it’s home to a popular pizza restaurant – a nice spot to enjoy a sunset bite.
But the food at Why House shouldn’t be missed. Henrietta is cordon-bleu trained and the food is a mix of Western, Lebanese and Sri Lankan. The curries here have a noticeable Indian influence, which Henrietta explained is due to her preference for curries from this region. But the fusion of the two flavours work very well: we enjoyed an excellent brinjal moju, alongside two other curries of green beans and okra, as well as red rice, cucumber gotukola salad, daal and not to forget a mellow sweet banana chutney. Sadly, hoppers are only available once a week but can be found in the nearby town of Unawatuna at street prices.
Alternatively, if you’re inside the Fort, not to miss is first rate and innovative Hoppa, an excellent little spot for hoppers, creating modern takes of the dish. Though the hoppers are crispy, they’re incredibly reasonable, are served with all the chutneys/sambals you need and the mixture is seasoned very well.
The breakfast at Why House is probably the star. A buffet of fresh fruit, curd, kithul treacle and jaggery granola is laid out, and guests are also able to choose a breakfast main (Sri Lankan/Indian (dosa!) or Western). But that’s difficult to do once you’ve filled up on their excellent spread of jams, together with their freshly baked bread, including the most cakey and moreish vegan freshly baked oat loaf. I lathered slices of the stuff with totally unique spreads: one of beetroot, coconut and jaggery, and another of pineapple and passion fruit. The colours are as beautiful as the flavours.
Like Galle Fort, Why House has a colonial vibe – indeed, nearly all of the guests on my stay were from London (South London to be precise!). And in British style, afternoon tea (and a sweet treat) is on offer to all guests daily. Its popularity with Londoners, though, is inevitable in Galle during peak season, when this coastal stretch of Sri Lanka is a magnet for tourists from all over.