Jetwing Lighthouse – hotel review

Set in the genteel former Dutch colony of Galle, visitors can unwind in the laid-back charms of this Sri Lankan beach resort on the south coast

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The old town of Galle has plenty of little hotels sprinkled around in its narrow streets, but if you’re looking for a quiet spot with sea views and the comfort of a resort-style hotel (with two swimming pools) the Jetwing Lighthouse on the outskirts of town should fit the bill. 

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The Lighthouse is one of several hotels designed by respected Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa, known for his ‘tropical modernist’ style. But compared to the most iconic of his 60 or more creations (including a plant covered tropical hideaway overlooking the Kandalama Reservoir and the current development of the U.N. Headquarters in Male), we have to admit, were expecting a little more. Although there are still design flourishes here that stand out, in particular the spectacular entrance staircase, dominated by artist Laki Senanayake’s wrought iron characters wielding weapons – depicting the battle of Randeniya.

Shown to our room, a standard double, the décor is plain and tastefully simple – painted white, with natural wood features and a terrace from which to watch the sun set over the sea. The bathrooms, however, are worth the hype. A separate bath, monsoon shower, smoky mirrors and plenty of dark marble garnish the room, and toiletries come in reusable ceramic containers to combat waste.

While it’s fashionable these days for brands to trumpet their environmental credentials, Jetwing seem to take these commitments very seriously. Guests are given a sustainability booklet covering everything from pollution to energy conservation, they employ a resident naturalist who is on hand to answer questions and lead guided nature walks and the landscaped gardens are designed to preserve biodiversity (and judging by the size of the lizards, it’s working well!).

Next month a new wing is set to open that will add 20 new ‘super deluxe’ rooms, apparently larger and more modern than the present 60 rooms, as well as an additional two suites. We hope they keep up the invaluable eco touches.

Food and Drink: The on-site buffet offers every breakfast dish imaginable – including a traditional fry up, local Sri Lankan dishes and seaweed porridge! For lunch and dinner, guests have casual and fine dining options with both the Cardamom Cafe and the more formal Cinnamon Room serving Sri Lankan and European dishes, as well as a poolside grill and cosy saloon bar, and a new bar and restaurant will open next month as part of the expansion. Or it’s an easy ride into town via tuk tuk.

Price: Double room with breakfast from £188 per night. Suites £312. From December 2013, super deluxe rooms (with breakfast) £219.

Address: Dadella, Galle, Sri Lanka, +94 91 2223744, www.jetwinghotels.com

Radio Times Travel Rating: 7/10 Well designed and comfortable with full marks for sustainability, but lacking in personal touches.  

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