Ceylon Tea Trails
PRICE: Worth maxing out for
We adore Ceylon Tea Trails. There’s no getting away from it. In fact, on every visit to Sri Lanka, we have to go back to remind ourselves exactly how perfect Ceylon Tea Trails is. Five plantations houses spread across the Bogawantalawa valley in Tea Country, accessed by narrow single track roads, have been converted into a first-class hotel accommodation. In fact, it’s Sri Lanka’s only Relais & Chateaux property. The concept is simple in its perfection: elegant colonial charm combined with modern luxuries.
Each Ceylon Tea Trails bungalow is unique, both architecturally and in its position. Each is decorated in a unique style, ranging from neo-colonial to classic English.But they are all unified by exceptional service, exquisite food and views to die for.
You’ll have your own butler who will attend to your every need (including those you didn’t even know you had!) and the chef will have a chat to you about your likes and dislikes before offering you a delicious and bespoke range of options.
The rooms are timelessly elegant, offering a taste of colonial-era luxury with solid teak furnishings, antique touches and plush beds. Relax in immense four-poster beds, with crisp white sheets.
The common spaces hark back to a bygone era, with open fires lit on cool evenings and butlers serving pre dinner aperitifs. Being surrounded by black and white photographs, the occasional antique gadget such as a old bell telephone and a coffee table full of captivating history books, leaves you totally immersed in the moment.
But do not make the mistake of thinking Ceylon Tea Trails is somehow a stuffy or pompous affair. On the contrary, it is totally relaxed and intimate.
Dining is a delight. The cuisine uses fresh, home-grown vegetables, herbs and teas from the surrounding estates. Basil, rosemary, thyme, tarragon, sage, parsley and mint inspire and enliven the chef’s menus every day. There are scrumptious afternoon high teas in gardens curiously both English and exotic at the same time. Or four-course dinners that are both contemporary and colonial. Or aromatic, authentic Sri Lankan rice and curry for lunch – before retiring for an afternoon siesta.
Later, perhaps, you might choose to luxuriate in a spa treatment in the privacy and comfort of your room, blissfully soothing away any aches and pains from your morning’s explorations.
A two-night stay is mandatory, a three-night stay is a luxury you really do deserve, after all. Our favourite is to combine a stay in two different bungalows, usually Norwood and Castlereagh, for the ultimate experience between being high in the hills and then down on the shores of Castlereagh lake.
The atmosphere is so relaxed here it almost feels like home from home. Except, unlike at home, when your cup of perfectly-blended Bed Tea is brought to you in the morning, the curtain are drawn on another perfect day in paradise, and your aromatic bath is being run (choose from cinnamon spice, green tea, black pepper & orange, jasmine or bergamot & geranium).
For us, Ceylon Tea Trails is the ultimate experience in Sri Lanka. You’ll never want to leave. And, like us, you will return whenever you can.
One of the best experiences is walking through the tea plantations between the bungalows. Plan it the day before and you can arrange to have lunch on arrival at your destination house, followed by a lazy swim and then a car transfer back home.
On your doorstep
The tea factory tour starts around 9am so could be an earlyish start to get to the Dunkeld factory. It is without doubt the best tea experience we’ve had.