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“Breathtaking Beauty, Exquisite Service and Memorable Meals” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Glenburn Tea Estate

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Glenburn Tea Estate
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4.0 of 5 Hotel   |   Dist. and Post Office Darjeeling, Darjeeling 734101, India   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #1 of 80 Hotels in Darjeeling
Atlanta, Georgia
Senior Contributor
22 reviews 22 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
22 helpful votes 22 helpful votes
“Breathtaking Beauty, Exquisite Service and Memorable Meals”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 1, 2011

Once I discovered the Glenburn Tea Estate during research for my trip, I knew that I had to have the experience and it was even more spectacular then I had imagined…and that is saying a lot! I had decided to spend four nights at the estate to acclimate to the time change before I began my business assignment. Soon after arriving at the Bagdogra airport the Glenburn driver had us zooming out of the crowded area and it became a scene from a movie where we were zigzagging in between people, animals, cars and the like and the horn would go off about every minute or two in some sort of morse code the drivers seem to use in India. The first 30 minutes or so the roads were so crowded I kept thinking how exhausting it must be for the driver. It was the picture of India you expect with modest, simple living and lots of crowded spaces.

As we moved higher up the road continued to get narrower and narrower until it looked to the inexperienced eye more like a footpath then a road.

After about 2 hours or so, we stopped at a beautiful lookout point and my driver took out a delightful aqua colored picnic basket---the same color of much of the wicker balcony furniture on the estate--- for afternoon tea, sandwiches, fruit and brownies. It was so perfect. I hadn't eaten since my 8am breakfast and it was now about 5pm, and it was a good bridge before our meal which would be at 9pm that evening.

Upon arrival at the estate, I was greeted with a kelly green silk scarf that was placed around the neck of each guest as they arrived and ice tea by the amazing Najma Ahmed . Najma is like having your own personal fairy godmother, she makes everything happen on the estate for the guests with style and grace....whatever they wish seems to appear or happen instantaneously. She is truly a marvel.

Then I was offered hot tea, after which I was shown to my suite---The Singalila Suite ---in The Water Lily Bungalow perched on the edge of the hill with majestic views of the valleys all around Darjeeling Town and the Kanchenjunga Range. Najma said it was her favorite suite and at first I thought she might be just saying that, but I do believe it just might be the most spectacular one after all with it's glassed in round balcony that was a perfect tea room to enjoy the view of the tea fields, abundant flowers and of course the Himalayas.

In the spacious room I found a gorgeous antique four poster bed, with embroidered bed linens and fresh flower arrangements that would be tended to daily. In the large bathroom, also with a spectacular view, there was both a walk in rain shower and a separate old-fashioned tub.

It was a particularly welcoming introduction in that the morning rain had cleared the haze and we had a beautiful view of the mountains that is rare this time of year.
The owner of the estate, Husna-Tara Prakash, was also there that day (she often resides in Calcutta) so it was fun to meet her and later on her husband. The estate has 1000 acres of private forest land and two rivers. They have their own source of electricity and water so they do not experience the same issues faced by the people in the town of Darjeeling.

After freshening up and changing for dinner, I joined the other guests at a bonfire for cocktails. It was so reminiscent of my safari experience.. ...meeting interesting people from other parts of the world.....a gentlemen from the US Embassy with the FDA assigned to monitor the Indian Agricultural Industry accompanied by his father, a couple from the UK where he is a judge and she is a midwife, another couple also from the UK where he is a high school teacher and she does marketing and a gentlemen from South Africa who was there on a hospitality consulting project discussing expansion opportunities. Dinner in the main dining room was lovely and then I retired to my room for an 8 hours of sleep that I sorely needed by that point!
Just before I left to walk down the path to my suite, plans were confirmed for the next days activities....morning tea tour and tasting.....as well as what time I would like my morning tea brought to my room.

I woke up about 5am when I heard soft music rising up from further down the mountain, perhaps morning prayers. It was already light and I took a few moments to look out and snap a few pictures of the mountain that was visible and then headed back to bed for a few more hours sleep before my morning tea at 8am. Breakfast was a buffet served on the outdoor terrace a few steps away from our building. I had poached eggs with a design of a flower made of herbs and red pepper strips on top of it, a tender very buttery croissant, fresh juice, broiled tomatoes and tea. We were treated to a large eagle circling overhead just as we finished up breakfast.

Next it was time for the tea tour with Kumar. I would be touring with just two other people so it was a nice small tour that made it easy to ask questions and go at the pace that was comfortable for all. First we were shown the two different types of plants on the estate, the Darjeeling variety and the Assam. The smaller leaf Darjeeling came from seed and later cuttings from China while the much larger leaf Assam was found growing wild in the forest. Tea Gardening as an occupation is handed down through the generations. It appeared that all of the gardeners were of Nepal ancestry. I just loved their happy spirits. I asked one of the drivers one day if everyone really is as happy as they seem and he laughed and said yes. They all work very, very hard, incredible long hours, but always with such a pleasant disposition. After the tour we had our tea tasting. I decided I liked the second flush best.

Often following the tea experience, people go down to the river for a 3 hour hike. One of the other guests had twisted his ankle the day before on this hike and others had described it as challenging. I thought better of it knowing I didn’t need to try and maneuver the rest of my travels with a foot problem…or a bug bite. There is a long list of things you can do on the estate including bird watching which I would have liked to take in or a local reflexology treatment. Somehow the time just slipped away from me and I didn’t get to all these little additional adventures with the exception of a day trip into Darjeeling. It was nice just to relax and drink in the incredible beauty of the estate and be served tea and wonderful, gourmet, organic meals from produce grown on the estate itself!

That evening new guests arrived, a Swiss couple with three charming children with ages ranging 3 1/2 to 7. They were amazing kids. They had been traveling for 27 hours straight and yet they were sitting like perfect angels waiting for their meal. They were all going on a hiking trip to Bhutan where they were going to hiking up to 5 hours a day! The father was an adventure tour operator and Bhutan was his favorite spot. During my next stay at Glenburn, I hope to follow it up by a trip there.

The other interesting new couple was from the UK, a barrister and his wife a solicitor. They were there taking a holiday with their two high school age daughters that had just graduated and were volunteering in India teaching children in a village during their gap year---the year off between High School and University. That evening we visited over cocktails before dinner in the drawing room.

On the third night our group again met over a bonfire and we were joined by a new arrival, a couple from India where she works in tax for a multinational and he works in advertising for a new family channel being launched in India.

I mention the other guests here because I believe they were a special part of making my experience so memorable. The Glenburn Tea Estate offers a small intimate setting with just 8 suites and most of your meals taken with the other guests, although you can request to dine privately. When the other guests appreciate the beauty, attentive service, the care devoted to all the meals and extraordinary attention to detail overall, than you can experience the same type of magic you find on a safari where everyone is anxious to visit, recount their day’s adventures to the group and collectively share in the wonder of it all.

I have been fortunate enough to have many wonderful travel adventures and I count this enchanting stay as an amazing value and one of the top highlights.

  • Stayed April 2011, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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165 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (47)
Date | Rating
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English first
London, United Kingdom
Senior Contributor
36 reviews 36 reviews
31 hotel reviews
Reviews in 31 cities Reviews in 31 cities
53 helpful votes 53 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 14, 2011

I stayed at Glenburn with my 12 year old son at the start of a 3 week trip to India and Bhutan. We had an excellent stay over 4 nights. The location of Glenburn is stunning. For most days the mountains were clouded over, we did see the Himalayas early one morning and the snow peaks looked surreal gainst the green tea bushes covering the slopes.

The hotel has an old time feel, with it's colonial photographs, corrugated iron roof and the formal dinners. The food was good, with Indian and Burmese dishes and I found if I could talk to the cook ahead of dinner time, I could get my son's food likes and dislikes catered to, despite the fixed menu. The Planter's Suite where we slept had a small side room with a seperate bed for my son, ideal for our stay.

We went hiking for a day down to the river side lodge (that looked a little too rustic and buggy for my tastes). We visited Darjeeling for a day including the Toy Train and went river rafting (a little tame perhaps). There is a lot to see and do. We went around the rea factory and my son is now very clear on his preference for Darjeeling Tea.

If I had to single out one positive it would be the sheer friendliness of the staff. The Tea Estate Manager went out at night to pick Fresh Strawberries for dinner and the Hostess got up at 3.45 am to make sure we got our jeep to Bagdroga to catch a flight to Bhutan. Nothing was too much trouble.

The one negative comes with the location: endless bumpy windy roads to get anywhere. It takes 3.5 hours to get there and it is the same bumpy roads to go anywhere else. I would bear this in mind both when you plan how long you stay here and how many non hiking activities you want to do.

  • Stayed April 2011, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
sotogrande
Senior Contributor
39 reviews 39 reviews
32 hotel reviews
Reviews in 33 cities Reviews in 33 cities
34 helpful votes 34 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 3, 2011

The place is truly beautiful, the setting, the view, the bungalow and the flowers. The breakfasts and lunches are just great, the picnic lunch by the river is sumptuous, beautifully prepared and presented, but personally I did not enjoy the dinners, the hostess is charming but the food is too complicated and when the place is full there are, for my taste, too many people, and when the estate manager is there, sitting at the end of the table, not eating, only drinking whisky and talking very loudly it becomes tiresome to say the least !!!! The excursion programme is very good and we had the most charming and knowledgeable guide. The rooms are nice, very fresh, beautiful linen, nice, comfortable bed, good shower, but not heating in the bathroom, can be a little bit chilly at times. Early morning tea of course. And beautiful bouqets in the bathroom and in the bedroom and everywhere in the property all done with taste and talent.

  • Stayed March 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kolkata (Calcutta), India
1 review
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed April 27, 2011

Pathetic food and overbearing and interferring hostess.Very very bad food and inandequate arrangements at the Hotel..... Very Infalted prices for a very ordinary and rundown hotel property.

The only redeeming feature of the hotel is the location of the property which is very picturesque

  • Stayed October 2010, traveled with family
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Mumbai
Senior Contributor
38 reviews 38 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 23 cities Reviews in 23 cities
36 helpful votes 36 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 25, 2011

The Glenburn experience is truly unique.. It's not a five star hotel.. There is no menu for food - there is set menu every day.. there are no TV or house phones in the room.. and why Glenburn is unique is because you don't miss these things.. The Glenburn experience is more than any five star stay.. lavishly done up rooms (towel racks are heated), scrumptious set meals and nice service.. We will cherish our holidays at Glenburn for long.. The place is serene and peaceful.. May be that's why families with toddlers and younger kids might want to wait a bit before they visit.. You may not appreciate the noise and tantrums your little one creates when everyone else wants to enjoy a quite time.. Also, you may not want to hear in detail when the hostess Najma tells you how quite and peaceful were the three kids of a British family who visited them a week before and so on and so forth.. Otherwise its a must experience for those who don't mind the paying USD 500 for a night..

Room Tip: Rungdung and rungeet suite offer privacy with view
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  • Stayed April 2011, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London
Senior Contributor
34 reviews 34 reviews
25 hotel reviews
Reviews in 26 cities Reviews in 26 cities
35 helpful votes 35 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 24, 2011

Glenburn is quite simply stunning. We suspected from their website that we were in for a special experience but our 4 nights there were out of this world. It's a boutique hotel with eight suites which are located on a working tea plantation with 360 degree views of amazing countryside. If you're looking for a big glossy hotel with all the mod cons then Glenburn isn't for you but if you fancy stepping back in time in beautiful surroundings with exceptionally personal service, then look no further.

The eight suites are located in two separate buildings, with four in each. I made the mistake of assuming that the four suites in the 'new' building would not be as special. I was wrong. The 'new' building has been beautifully done with seamless integration with the original bungalow. Every suite is glorious in its own way and equally large with the exception of the Simbong Butterfly suite which is ideal for a single person.

Breakfast is served on a terrace between the two buildings and again, the views are magnificent. Dinners are a communal affair in a lovely traditional dining room and each evening feels like a private dinner party. For those that want dinner a deux that's fine too - typical of the Glenburn philosophy of ensuring that each and every guest feels pampered and special.

There's no pool or gym or games room but there's a host of wonderful ways to spend your days. Your own private car with driver and guide are at your disposal for trips to Darjeeling or Kalimpong or wherever you want to go. There are glorious walks all around the tea estate and if you're not a fan of uphill walking they'll send a car to pick you up! Then there's the option of staying a night down at the camp right next to the river with a full team of staff to cater for your every need. We arrived at Glenburn with a suitcase full of laundry which was magically washed and ironed within 24 hrs (all free of charge). Literally everything (except alcohol) is included in your nightly rate and it was so refreshing not to sign a single bill in our four days there.

The owners decided to turn Glenburn into a boutique hotel just eight years ago. All the furnishings, fabrics and decor have been painstakingly selected and the attention to detail is evident. A host of wonderfully trained staff are permanently but unobtrusively on hand to anticipate your every need - they seemed to know I wanted a drink before I did.

We couldn't fault the place. We've been lucky enough to stay in hotels and b&b's all over the world but our Glenburn experience was so so special. If you're heading to that part of India, you'd be mad to stay anywhere else and don't think about booking for anything less than 3 nights because you'll regret it.

  • Stayed April 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bangkok
Contributor
17 reviews 17 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
25 helpful votes 25 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 23, 2011

The colonial bungalow dates back to 1859, re-done recently to is former splendor. This was one of the most relaxed and amzing stays that I have been to in a long time. The scenary is breathtaking, the service is calm, relaxed and comforting. It is expensive but worth every penny if you want to be taken back to a time when the British Raj still ruled. A must for a romatic getaway.

  • Stayed March 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Glenburn Tea Estate

Address: Dist. and Post Office Darjeeling, Darjeeling 734101, India
Location: India > West Bengal > Darjeeling
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Restaurant Room Service
Hotel Style:
#1 Romantic Hotel in Darjeeling
#3 Family Hotel in Darjeeling
Hotel Class:4 star — Glenburn Tea Estate 4*
Number of rooms: 8
Also Known As:
Glenburn Tea Estate Hotel Darjeeling
Glenburn Tea Estate West Bengal

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