there are plenty of places to stay in galle, both inside and outside the fort walls, ranging from guest houses to homestays to boutique hotels. however, most of those places run to double-occupancy rooms and so are a little expensive, and they can also be isolating. as i was travelling on my own and wanted to meet people, and i also wanted to stay as cheaply as possible, i opted for a hostel.
after some research, i found only two options that looked viable: pedlar’s inn hostel and galle fort hostel. both had good ratings on hostelworld, but there was something about pedlar’s that pulled me in. it looked bright and friendly, and i loved the idea of the little balcony off the 3-bed dorm. i booked myself in for two nights and made my way down there on sunday.
when i found my way to the hostel in the pouring rain, i was welcomed warmly and quickly shown to the 3-bed dorm so i could put down my stuff and dry off. because i was the only person staying in the 3-bed dorm for the first two nights, i had my pick of the beds. opting for one by the balcony doors, i left my bags and was shown around. i noted that the bathrooms were clean and the lockers were spacious, so we were already off to a good start.
i was originally booked to stay for two nights, but i ended up cancelling my trip to kandy [an upcoming post] and stayed on in galle and in pedlar’s for an additional two nights. i was enjoying my time in the fort, and i really liked pedlar’s, so i am happy with my decision.
the staff at pedlar’s were friendly and answered my questions quickly and easily. with its central location right in the middle of the fort, it was easy to learn my way around and also to pop in and out throughout the day if i wanted to change or pick up or drop off anything. the common area has two comfortable couches and a tv, so after returning from dinner i would hang out there for a bit and chat with any other guests who wandered through. i met a few nice girls from the uk, a friendly guy from germany, and two really nice chinese girls. most people stayed for only one or two nights, so staying for four allowed me to meet and chat with a lot of different people.
the rooms were comfortable, and i especially loved the 3-bed dorm with the balcony. although it rained for most of my stay and i didn’t actually get to sit at the picnic table or spend a lot of time on the balcony, the open doors provided a great breeze, and the room stayed bright throughout the day with the natural light – however dim – coming in. and with no one else there for the first two nights, i had the entire room to myself.
two particular things i noted right away that i appreciated were the plug points next to each bed and the reading light above each pillow. it’s been five years since i last stayed in a hostel, but i remember plug points always being sought after because there were never enough. with the rise of digital nomads, travel bloggers, and generally people who work while they travel, people are carting around a lot of items that need charging these days, and it can be frustrating when you cannot find a charging point or have to fight other travellers to use them. so seeing that each bed had its own outlet, in addition to a few in the common area, was impressive to me.
as was the reading lamp. in the past, when i’ve stayed in dorms with upwards of ten people, the light was always an issue. some people would go to bed early so they could catch early morning trains or flights, while others would stay out late enjoying the city, and this leads to fights over the light. but at pedlar’s, with a small reading lamp attached to each bed, you could return at any time and not have to worry about switching on the overhead light and disturbing anyone else in the room. these two touches made a big impression.
i also appreciated the security. you had to walk past the manager to access the rooms, and since it is small he knew everyone who was staying there. if he had to step out for any reason, he would close the door leading to the rooms, and it can only be opened with a smart card that guests are given when checking in. even though most of my things were secured in my assigned locker, it was nice to have that added layer of security — none of the previous hostels i have stayed in had anything like that.
pedlar’s ended up being the perfect location for me, and i’m so glad i found it when i was searching for accommodation inside the galle fort. with its central location, friendly staff, and comfortable accommodations, it is a great place to stay if you are in the area. but book ahead, because the dorms fill up fast!
location: 62-b, lighthouse street. galle – 800000, sri lanka.
contact: +94 91 22 274 43 // email@example.com // book online at hostelworld
room rates: $12 a night for the 4-bed dorm; $15 a night for the 3-bed dorm; the private rooms run $30 and $40 a night, i believe.
amenities: free wifi [it gets slow toward the end of the month]; unlimited coffee and tea available in the kitchen; use of the kitchen; breakfast available [for a fee]; tv in the common area; a deck of cards and a few games are available; lockers in the dorm [with a key provided]; smart key access after 7pm; balcony off the 3-bed dorm; mosquito nets; each dorm bed has a bedside light and a plug point next to it; bicycles for rent by the hour or for the entire day.
nearby attractions: you’re in the heart of the galle fort, so everything is nearby.
distance to galle railway station: 1.2km. it’s an easy walk if the weather is nice.
my tripadvisor rating: 4 out of 5 // it is ranked #89 of 549 specialty lodgings in the southern province // pedlar’s inn hostel has also received a tripadvisor certificate of excellence.
hostelworld rating: 9.0 // superb.
fun facts: because of the high demand, they are currently constructing another 4-bed dorm room. i think it is slated to be ready in early 2016.
to keep in mind: book ahead of time, as it fills up fast [especially the 4-bed dorm]! for dorm residents, breakfast is an additional $2 usd. credit cards are not accepted, so make sure you pay ahead of time or carry cash [sri lankan rupees and us dollars are accepted; not sure about other currencies]. there are also a pedlar’s inn cafe and a pedlar’s inn art gallery around the corner from the hostel, so if you ever get lost and stumble upon one of those, you’ll know you are nearly there.