Ceylon Tea Trails, Sri Lanka

Ceylon Tea Trails, Sri Lanka

up in Bogawantalawa – Sri Lanka‘s Golden Valley of Tea – amid
rolling hills swathed in sheets of mist, sits Ceylon Tea Trails, a collection
of five elegantly restored colonial bungalows, perched overlooking
Castlereagh Reservoir and surrounded by acre upon acre of
bottle-green tea.

This majestic estate, once a treasured haunt of the British
planters, feels entirely removed from the rush and racket of the
modern world. Here, solitude and scenery mingle to send you into a
transcendent state of relaxation. If you ever wanted to live the
life of a tea magnate of yesteryear (with an extra helping of
luxury) this is the place to do it.

The bungalows have manicured gardens bejewelled with roses and
dahlias, and alluring pools fed with water straight
from the mountain spring. If you can pull yourself from your wicker
chair, kayak across the reservoir, enjoy a spot of afternoon
croquet or take a tour of the Dunkeld Tea Factory – an insight into
the production process from picking to packing, which ends with a
tasting that will make you think twice about all that milk and

That said, we found there to be no greater pleasure than simply
walking for miles, getting lost among the winding trails and making
the most of the magnificent views. You’re unlikely to encounter
another soul, and the other bungalows are great stop-off points
should you need a little refreshment. As light begins to fade, wend
your way home, sink back into that chair and soak up the calm of
the evening.


Each of the bungalows have a slightly different feel, reflecting
their individual history. Tientsin, the oldest of the lot, dates
back to 1888, while the more modern Dunkeld comes with a 180 square
metre standalone Owner’s Cottage for those who really want privacy.
Interiors have a nostalgic charm and
a distinctly British feel that chimes with the property’s colonial
character; expect muted colours, grand four-poster beds and rich
Persian rugs. Most rooms have private gardens and some have
fireplaces for the chillier hill-country evenings. Walls are
adorned with antique prints and antiquated maps, while bathrooms feel drawn straight from a
period-drama: sumptuously tiled with double basins and
free-standing baths, perfect to sink into after a long afternoon
hike. Televisions are done away with to enhance the sense that
you’re escaping modern life, but one can be set up if you really
can’t go without.

What’s for breakfast?

Whatever you want. Coffee, freshly squeezed juice, a fruit
platter, homemade pastries and eggs benedict with extra crispy
bacon, sausages and fluffy hash browns should do it. Sri Lankan
breakfasts are superb too, but need to be ordered the night before
so that the chef can prepare your hoppers and curry fresh.

How about lunch and dinner?

During breakfast, the chef will stop by to discuss what you’d
like to eat for the rest of the day. He’ll give you plenty of
options based on what’s fresh from the market – don’t be shy to ask
if there’s something you really fancy. Lunches are three courses
while dinner in a more formal four-course affair. The soups are
outstanding, our rack of lamb melted in the mouth, and if you ask
for curry prepare for a feast. Of course, the chefs like to make
use of what grows locally, so expect plenty of dishes inspired by

Is there a bar?

Yes. Fitting with the bungalows’ homely feel, you’ll find a wide
range of spirits set atop a teak butler’s tray table in the living
room. Help yourself or ask the staff to whip you up a cocktail,
then enjoy on the balcony, poolside or in your own private


Each bungalow comes with its own pool, chef and butler. There’s
also a clay tennis court, croquet lawns and bikes for guests. Food
and drinks – plus a tour of the tea factory – are also

Things you should know…

As you’d expect from a property set adrift from modern life, the
WiFi may be a tad more sluggish than you’re used to at home.

Within a short walk you’ll find…

Tea, tea and more tea. The rolling, green hills are more or less
uninterrupted – you may stumble across the occasional bungalow or
tiny village, but that’s as much life as you’re likely to see.