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“Chokanad - a lovely colonial fossil”
Review of The Tea Sanctuary

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The Tea Sanctuary
Ranked #62 of 97 Hotels in Munnar
Gloucester, United Kingdom
Level 5 Contributor
81 reviews
40 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 52 helpful votes
“Chokanad - a lovely colonial fossil”
Reviewed February 22, 2013

The Tea Sanctury bungalows must be the best places to stay in Munnar if you want beautiful views of the plantations and personal service. Booking is easy with the very helpful Mr. Dharmaraj. Four of us had Chokanad to ourselves for 3 glorious days relaxing in the lovely garden and walking in the plantation. Eighty year old caretaker and chef Mani worked as a teenager for the British owners. Best to have a driver on hand and Mani will arrange. True the plumbing, electrical wiring and furniture are all showing their age, but this all added to the unique atmosphere of the place. Not to be missed

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
2 Thank ansbnks2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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43 reviews from our community

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English first
Helsinki, Finland
Level 4 Contributor
21 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
Reviewed January 18, 2013

First the booking, I booked the Tea Sanctuary at the last minute through phonw when my other booking at Munnar fell through. The manager Mr. Dharmaraj was very helpful and though I had only a confirmation sms from him, we kept in touch via phone, and when we reached the bungalow the caretaker and his helper were already waiting for us.

We stayed at the Chokanad Bungalow for 3 nights, in the middle of the Chokanad Tea Estate. It is set far back from Munnar town, at mid elevation with beautiful views into the valley below and the mountains above. Away from the din,clutter and crowds of Munnar, we had the whole bungalow, the tea estate and even a herd of migratrory wild elephants all to ourselves. We had a lot of fun walking around the hills of the estate, watching out for wildlife and clicking photos of birds we had never seen before and meeting the plantation workers.

The bungalow itself is an erstwhile tea planter's bungalow, well aged over a century with some antique furniture. Most of the rooms have their own fireplace, which can be lit upon request. We had all meals at the bungalow, they were healthy (low fat), locally grown, hygenic, and very tasty.

The caretaker and his helper were like family. The whole ambience was very homely unlike the commercial atmosphere of a hotel, and you are transported back in time to a way of life that does not exist in urban India. You need to carry your own evening entertainment, we had carried our own board games. Also carry some warm clothes for the nights.

The add on attractions advertised on the website, such as the angling and golf, need prior arrangements/permits/fees. If interested in these, inquire and book well in advance.

Staying at Chokanad bungalow, we felt much more connected to authentic Munnar, to its nature and its people. We would like to make this an annual trip to Munnar.

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled with family
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Helpful?
1 Thank Zarina-Summer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New Delhi
Level 4 Contributor
42 reviews
20 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 35 helpful votes
Reviewed January 18, 2013

I visited Munnar in the first week of January 2013, and the experience was breathtaking. No, I dont mean the drive from Ernakulam, that is an incredibly slow 5 hour ordeal over narrow bad roads. And not Munnar town either that is full of smoky noisy vehicles. I mean The Tea Sanctuary in the middle of a tea estate owned by the Kannan Devan Hills Plantations Private Limited.

This appropriately named place, a bungalow with three large rooms and attached bathrooms, is in the middle of rolling tea gardens interspersed with trees. It is 3 km from the main road into the hills where the tea bushes grow. There is nothing, I mean nothing, else around save the tea estate, trees and birds. There are two caretakers - Raj the cook and Selvaraj the odd jobs man. That's it. Both are attentive and available, but never intrusive.

The colonial era bungalow of indeterminate age is a large sprawling structure with well tended gardens on two sides and a large drive in front. On one side, the lawn falls away into a valley that has magical early morning views; it is mist filled and looks ethereal when illuminated by the early morning sun. On the other, a wide variety of flowers add a riot of colour to the front of the bungalow.

January is the coldest it gets, which by Delhi standards is pleasant. You need light woolens in the morning and evening. I took the room that opens on the lawn with the valley view, so the sun streamed in at 645 and drew me to the magical vista. Raj brought tea promptly and the morning was complete. There is a TV should you want to catch up with the news, but I decided against it. I drank my tea in silence, listening to bird-song.

He makes great meals, Raj does, and at Rs 250 a head, they are reasonable. Order in advance, and you get an unlimited menu. If you want booze, there is a well stocked shop in town about 5 km away. After a nice breakfast - dosa on one day, upama on another and idli sambar on the third - I strolled down the long and winding road to the town. The walk till the highway is wonderful, quiet for the most part. There are streams trickling down amidst the tea bushes. Flowering shrubs and trees. Birds. There is the occasional discordant note of an auto-rickshaw but the silence quickly swallows that too. Once on the highway, it is a cacophony of horns and engines that envelop you along with dust and smoke. From sensory deprivation to overload.

The bathrooms are large. My one had a tub but the others dont. There is hot and cold running water. Power goes in the day, when you are out, and at night when you are in and its annoying but there is a generator. One evening Selvaraj made a fire in the sitting room that was really welcome. The climate is cool and moist in the bungalow, getting somewhat warmer in town.

I would highly recommend this place. As there are only 3 rooms, call and book in advance. I had to secure my room with an advance payment. It cost Rs 4800 for three people, including an extra mattress. If you want peace, quiet and a lovely place to stay, go to The Tea Sanctuary. You can get their numbers and rates from the website, www.theteasanctuary.com.

The company is largely owned by its workers and the Tatas have a minority stake. They bought it off the Tatas a while ago, and now are proud shareholders. This information only adds to the charm of the place.

Room Tip: Ask for the one that has the valley view. They are all well appointed and comfy but this is the only...
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  • Stayed January 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank Nitya J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bengaluru, India
Level 2 Contributor
8 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed January 8, 2013

We have experienced staying at 2 bungalows of Tea Sanctuary - Chokanad Bungalow & Silent Valley Bungalow (called Manager's bungalow). This review is for Chokanad Bungalow only. Our experience here was very good. Food was very good. The hosts - caretaker & his helper were really very good people and took very good care of us. The food prepared was very tasty all the time. The helper took us for an early morning tour of the estate, explaining the details of the how the tea collection operated, history behind it, and the fact that he was the 3rd generation in his family who was working in those estates :) We named him Hasmukh Rai, as he always smiled :) Overall a very good experience staying in a tea estate. What i would like doing the next time is to be awake in the night to see the elephants cross via the tea estate roads (which is normal there).

The only suggestions i have for KDHP are:
- The package should include visit to their factory or tea museum, which could be the key attraction for these bungalows.
- Stay at these bungalows should be made more reasonable price wise.

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank avnishbm
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed December 28, 2012

We enjoyed a two nights stay in KDHP R&D bungalow which is one of the few 2 bedroom bungalows here in tea plantation. This was just right for a party of 4 instead of opting for a room bungalow and having to share the bungalow with strangers. First the pros -

- The location. Dont even bother to stay in any hotels located close to Munnar town. During peak season esp the traffic and din is almost unbearable. This place however is located about 14 kms from Munnar town and nestled among the tea plantation hills - heavenly is the word.

- The views are fantastic. Get here and you are done. You can just spent the entire day outside the bungalow (or curled up inside it) taking nice long walks and being wowed by the flora around you.

- The food. Every bungalow comes with a few caretakers who are your hosts and prepare all your meals. Their hospitality is quite overwhelming and they ensure that you will leave here with lot of reluctance having enjoyed some of the best (local) home cooked dishes. They pro-actively recommend dishes for every meal of the day and you will never have the same dish twice unless you require.

- Attractions like mettupatty dam, elephant rides and echo point are a short drive away from this bungLow. Actually the metuppaty dam can be cleraly seen from the R&D bungalow as well.

Now for the Cons (relatively speaking but they are not cons imo) :

- The rooms were really cold when were there last week and since the bungalows are old, the insulation was not that great. The bedroom had heater though and they also provided blankets that kept you warm.

- If you are looking for 5 star comfort, this is NOT the place for you. The rooms are quite basic meaning there is no decor to cater to your taste but then you knew what you were getting into Come here for fantastic views and healthy/tasty local food.

- The road that gets you to these bungalows is not all great and could give you problems esp if you have motion sickness.

Overall though, our family including a 3yr old thoroughly enjoyed our stay and we highly recommend it.

  • Stayed December 2012
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank thegogetter
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Moscow, Russia
Level 3 Contributor
10 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed November 12, 2012

It is a luxury to stay in these bunglows. We stayed at Sevenmallay bunglow. Raja was our man there and he took great care of us. Excellent tea he served and the food was amazing too. There is no comparison to any of the available resorts in Munnar. Imagine staying in a tea estate with the whole area for yourself. No money can buy this. Simply superb. We had a really relaxed holiday. Could jog in the morning, do yoga on the lawn. Went to Tea Museum, Top Hill etc and could spot a herd of elephants on the way. Overall we would recommend this to anybody. It is not usual hotel and if you are looking for a typical hotel room setting, this is not for you

Room Tip: There are 18 bunglows and you have to pick your bunglow based on availability. All of them are grea...
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  • Stayed October 2012, traveled with friends
    • Value
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Helpful?
3 Thank TRAVEL T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chennai (Madras), India
Level 3 Contributor
13 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
Reviewed November 7, 2012

such a nice place to stay in munnar , and the food served by them also excellent taste, the view of the idly hills also amazing ,

very nice garden view and the tea plantation in calm area, they are maintain the cooking area very clean

  • Stayed October 2012, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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Helpful?
4 Thank mohan14
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about The Tea Sanctuary

Property: The Tea Sanctuary
Address: KDHP House,, Munnar 685612, India
Location: India > Kerala > Idukki District > Munnar
Amenities:
Restaurant Room Service Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #62 of 97 Hotels in Munnar
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 30
Also Known As:
The Tea Sanctuary Hotel Munnar

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