A sprawling tea estate in Hill Country dotted with luxurious tea-planter bungalows, decorated in colonial style. Visiting Ceylon Tea Trails is like stepping back in time, with butler service, afternoon tea and lawn croquet juxtaposed with infinity pools and a menu of activities and excursions to choose from.
The five bungalows of Ceylon Tea Trails are scattered among the emerald hillsides of Sri Lanka’s Golden Valley of tea, Bogawantalawa. Around a five-hour drive from Colombo and two hours from Kandy, it is set in the cool, verdant hills so loved by the British during the colonial era, with bungalows dotted around Castlereagh Lake, offering nothing but uninterrupted valley views, absolute quiet and a small local village to visit. The idea is to disconnect and lose yourself in time while enjoying the pristine scenery. Hiking, biking and boat trips are offered in the surrounding area, alongside day excursions to tourist highlights such as Sri Lanka’s highest town, Nuwara Eliya, two hours away.
Style & character
The five tea-planter bungalows date back as far as 1888 and are individually designed to suit their heritage. Think beautiful gardens, lawn croquet and wrap-around terraces where you can easily while away hours enjoying the views from your traditional cane chair. The newest is Dunkeld, perched high above Castlereagh Lake, with a stunning infinity pool that seems to drop right into the lake itself.
The lounge is a delight of dark wood and deep red with a warming log fire and drinks trolley where you can help yourself to a pre-dinner sherry or gin and a post-prandial port. Black and white pictures of Sri Lanka and tea plantations adorn the walls and there is even a billiards room for evening games. Step out onto the veranda with awe-inspiring lake and valley views, while the four suites – and stand-alone Owner’s Cottage – will make you feel like the welcome guest of a very well-to-do friend.
Service & facilities
Ceylon Tea Trails offers Sri Lankan hospitality at its absolute best. Each bungalow has a butler and executive chef who will take care of your every need, discussing the day’s menu and activities available over breakfast.
If you decide to hike or bike between the five bungalows to explore them, a lunch or afternoon tea can be organised at your destination. There are free bikes for guest use and each stay includes a tour of the local tea factory to learn about how Dilmah tea is grown, picked and prepared for sale around the world. All bungalows offer croquet, while Tientsin also has a clay tennis court that can be booked.
Guests looking for relaxation can enjoy an aromatic bath or book a spa treatment in their room, and there are also libraries of books or DVDs that can be watched on the television in the lounges.
- Room service
Grand four-poster beds, teak furniture, roll-top baths and antique accessories throughout Dunkeld rooms and suites ensconce guests in the cosseted life of a colonial-era tea plantation visitor. Each bungalow has a slightly different style, while upholding the colonial ambience. Suites come with their own patio or garden and every guest can enjoy the lazy luxury of bed tea in the morning – a fresh, steaming pot of their tea of choice brought to the room. There are no televisions or sound systems in the rooms to maximise relaxation.
Food & drink
There is no chance you will ever feel a pang of hunger during your stay. Not only is the traditional Sri Lankan food served at the bungalows top quality, it is also abundant. Over a breakfast of hoppers, dhal, coconut roti and fish curry (there are English and continental options, too) the executive chef will visit each table and list options for the three-course lunch and four-course dinner. Dishes range from fresh fish and beef tenderloin with locally-grown vegetables to prawn curry, dahl and curried lamb – you simply choose whatever takes your fancy.
Afternoon tea is a staple, with pots of tea brewed to perfection and accompanied by delicate sandwiches and cakes, and guests can request picnics to take on romantic excursions.
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