[Ed Note: Jetwing Lighthouse Club is now a part of Jetwing Lighthouse and is not a separate hotel anymore. Jetwing Lighthouse Club is now the spa wing at Jetwing Lighthouse and Nihal’s is a restaurant outlet at Jetwing Lighthouse.]
Driving down to Galle in the midst of the raging monsoon, we battled overcast skies and steel grey walls of cloud to check into Jetwing's Lighthouse Club. Heartened by our welcome with a 15-minute complimentary massage and a glass of bubbly, we settled into the brand new property and tried to get dry.
If you're wondering what the difference between Jetwing Lighthouse and Lighthouse Club are, the easiest way would be to describe Club as a fancier, more luxe version of its adjoining sister hotel. You can expect a whole set of additional perks, like dining at the swish Nihal's (Executive Chef Nihal Senanayake's eponymous restaurant, which we'll review separately), a happy hour featuring free sunset drinks, a 24/7 butler on call, and well-appointed suites and club rooms.
While the hotel has its own pool and restaurant, you're also free to use the facilities at the Lighthouse as you please.
Ambience & Suites
Fringing the rocky Galle shore, the hotel's sprawling lawns make way for a large pool and plenty of al fresco dining areas. It's barely a month or two old, so it still has that new car feel to it. All the suites that we came across had a lovely view of both the manicured grounds and the sea.
Here's a mid-lightning flash photo I managed to click at dinner. Intense.
The neutral colours and simple furniture employed seem intentional to complement and not supercede the natural views. The rain and gloom did dampen our views considerably as we couldn't waltz around the grounds or use the oversized pool as much as we wanted to, which was a pity.
We ended up holing up in the room like bears hibernating for the winter, which wasn't as bad as it sounds. We had a club room, which apart from having a large balcony and beautiful view (20% lawns and pool, 30% sea, 50% sky), was also pretty large in itself. The king-sized bed was teamed with an assortment of unbelievably comfortable pillows (there was also an additional pillow menu), which meant waking up was a real challenge. There was also plenty of seating and natural light, which when added to the coffee machine, fruit, and a bottle of wine, didn't really give us much incentive to leave the room.
The partitions between the foyer, bedroom, and bathroom made for an additionally private experience. Everything we could have asked for was provided, from a fully stocked glassware drawer, to an Illy espresso machine, to earbuds, bath salts, flip flops and bath robes.
As is usual form for Jetwing properties, the bathroom was spacious and well lit. It also had both a shower and a bath, both trimmed with high-quality fittings and shower amenities. The only issue we had was with the sliding door, which was made out of a heavy carved wood, and took two of us to open and close. So either you leave it open and get to know your co-habitant a lot better, or you plan your bathroom activities well in advance so you can plan a joint door operation. We chose the latter.
Drinks & Dining
The food was brilliant, some of the best hotel fare we've had in the South. It was extremely personalised, and used a lot of fresh, local produce paired with some lovely imported additions like cheese and wine. We'll go into more detail about our 7 course degustation menu at Nihal's, but for now we'll focus on our breakfast and nibbles.
There's an hour long happy hour featuring free drinks, both local and imported, and cocktails. We decided to opt for the inventive cocktails. My favourite was the Galle Fort Breeze. I won't give away any trade secrets, but go try it out!
They also plied us with heaps of nibbles as we drank, which made dinner a tough ask afterward!
Our breakfast presented a large variety of options, of which we chose individualised twists on your classic Continental spread. I got a delicious prawn omelette paired with cheese, mushrooms, hash brown, bacon, and sausages.
This came with a fresh assorted bread basket that smelled like joy itself, as well as a couple of glasses of bubbly again. We topped our glasses off with some fresh watermelon juice to convince ourselves we were being healthy (we were not).
Everything tasted impeccable. Who knew prawn and cheese and egg came together so well? Apart from just being delicious, the plating made everything extra palatable.
There was also an additional buffet spread that was open to us, with a selection of condiments, expensive imported cheeses, cereal, fruit, etc. Given the sheer quality and quantity of the options and execution, we'd strongly recommend dropping by for a breakfast if you're in the vicinity.
The service was a key part of the experience. With a warm and efficient welcome, we were confirmed and checked in within barely 2 minutes of parking. The massage and bubbly definitely helped too. There was always someone on call whenever we needed something, be it wine glasses, or ice, or information. The staff has clearly been highly trained, as the level of smooth efficiency was impressive. We kind of wish we met our butler, but we never actually needed him at any point. We imagined he would have been named Jeeves. Or at least Jeevaka.
Despite the weather literally raining on our parade and negating the sunny beach holiday experience a bit, we were lucky to be set with the staff and suite we had. We literally wanted for nothing indoors, and had a superbly relaxing weekend lazing about, eating, reading, and gazing at the storm. We didn't have the time, but we'd also be sure to check out the popular Lighthouse spa the next time around.