The Bungalow – Galle Fort’s Dazzling Design | Daily News

The Bungalow – Galle Fort’s Dazzling Design

Juliet Coombe talks to the interior designer, Minha Musheen, owner of the recently opened The Bungalow Hotel in Galle Fort, to find out why her love of old-world charm, and rich history drew her to this ancient citadel.

Minha an artist and designer, whose spirit is very much of a merchant of the golden age of trade, named the historic house she lovingly restored, ‘The Bungalow’ as she felt it evoked memories of a gentler time; of a colonial past where the pace of life was much slower and less stressful. Minha and her business partner Rob wanted to reinforce that same feeling for their guests through chic vintage design combined with modern amenities and great service that reflects their passion for the area. Trip Advisor reports show they have more than achieved this in everything from the personalised hotel service to thoughtful daily touches by the staff. When talking about her visionary business partner Minha explains, “We both like colonial style but love our modern comforts. Hence, the modern bits with old-school vintage charm.”

Sri Lanka is known for its hospitality and tropical beauty, wealth of history and doing things differently. However Minha goes on to say they looked further beyond the usual high standards the country is known for, “Rob and I have taken our travels around the world as our guide and based our hospitality on the things we would like to see if we were guests at The Bungalow.” Robert comes from a hospitality/service related background, having worked for the national carrier as well as an international airline for a few years, and so has the necessary people-skills to make The Bungalow sing as a hospitality hot spot. He, having had the opportunity to travel and visit some of the most beautiful places in the world, always wanted to be a part of something that would create fantastic memories and leave a lasting impression. Hence, The Bungalow project.

One of Minha’s dreams was, like Robert, to operate a BnB within the Galle Fort, but as she went through a long drawn out restoration project of this wonderful historic 17th century property, with each step she found the building revealed its former glory in amazing and different ways. Minha says, “It’s fair to say we found joy within The Bungalow inside this rich historic four-hundred-year-old walled city.” However, there were many challenges along the way, “As a heritage site, everything needs to be preserved, right down to each bit of coral or brick, from the Dutch and British era. They have to be preserved, no doubt, but there needs to be a degree of flexibility or it might end up being a museum and not a living city,” says Minha.

Minha goes on further to explain that people are fascinated by a living city of the arts, with ancestors of the rich merchant trade of colonial times and how it is amazingly unchanged owing to the city walls blocking out the rest of the world. “As a UNESCO heritage site that has been continuously lived in, through three different colonial masters, spanning over three centuries, through epidemics, through a 30-year civil war and sporadic acts of violence, this Fort is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit, to overcome odds and to stand strong. The buildings enclosed within the walls have endured change, the passing of time and the seasons, making it a very inspiring place to live and work.”

The Bungalow is now one of the top places recommended by travellers on Trip Advisor, owing to its mix of old-world pieces of charming antique furniture combined with custom built new furniture, inspired by old colonial time designs, but with a modern twist, making it appealing and practical for today. Minha hopes to have a few ‘Bungalows’ around the island, which would focus on the locality and will carry her signature design, style and service. Robert, her business partner, is quite keen on a ‘The Bungalow Yala’, next as he loves the wild.

Minha says, “We love how warm and welcoming most people have been, and how some have been gladly willing to guide us with the do’s and don’ts. We love how there’s a feeling of community amongst all the hoteliers.” Minha, who left Sri Lanka at age 19, studied art and design in Beirut, Lebanon and went on to achieve a degree in Interior Design, says, “I have always been drawn to anything and everything creative, from a very young age, and painting has been a passion of mine since I was a little kid, which led to having several art exhibitions overseas as an adult. I followed my love of Art for a while and went on to become an art teacher and get a postgraduate certificate in teaching, from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. After living abroad for 16 years, I returned to make Sri Lanka my home again in 2014. I always wanted to end up designing interiors and have a hand in the hospitality industry, so it’s safe to say I’m living the dream!” It is also safe to say, for those who want a dream holiday, that this is a place that delivers every time and Minha and Rob look forward to welcoming you to their first dream hotel project at number 5 Church Cross Street, Fort Galle.


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