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“excellent”
Review of Ceylon Tea Trails

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Ceylon Tea Trails
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Hatton
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed April 26, 2011

We’ve just returned from a trip to Sri Lanka which included, perhaps somewhat unusually, spending 2 weeks in the Ceylon Tea Trails Bungalows. Spending this amount of time there and staying in each of the four bungalows gave us what we hope might be interesting and helpful insights for other prospective guests.
Firstly, we would agree wholeheartedly with the reviewers below in recommending Tea Trails. The quality of the accommodation, service, food, gardens, views, location and interior design are all exceptional and there is very little one could possibly criticise. OK, it’s expensive, but once you’re there it’s all inclusive and there are very little if any extra charges (e.g. guides if needed). The only other major problem is the potential to gain a lot of weight!
In terms of activities, we’d recommend the self-guided walks, of which there are 2 or 3 very well signposted routes from each bungalow offering the opportunity to see tea picking in action, meet locals, and enjoy some great views. We also enjoyed taking the bikes (very basic if you’re into bikes) on the quiet roads to visit Christ Church. All of the bungalows have croquet lawns & equipment. The tea factory tour with Andrew Taylor was a highlight. He is so incredibly enthusiastic, probably because he enjoys what he does so much. The tour was enjoyable almost entirely because of his passion. Andrew lives at Summerville and we enjoyed further chats and learnt more about tea and Sri Lanka from him while we stayed there.
We noticed that Castlereagh and Norwood were the most popular bungalows. As a result they can be the hardest to book into. However, each of the four bungalows has its own individual charm and guests will have individual preferences & tastes. There are however some points to consider when choosing where to stay.
Tientsin bungalow is the largest (6 bedrooms), oldest (1888) and sits at the highest altitude. It has perhaps the best preserved colonial features including a marvellous lounge and lovely colonnaded dining terrace and, with Castlereagh, probably has the best ‘Colonial English House’ feel. The altitude meant that during our visit in March/ April gas heaters were in use when dining on the terrace in the evenings. The altitude however has the advantage of the absence of mosquitoes, which can be a minor annoyance in the lower bungalows. Tientsin has perhaps the best pool – long, bold, contemporary with an ‘infinity’ design overlooking tea plantations. Definitely a proper ‘swimming’ rather than dipping pool. The only potential drawback with Tientsin was that the views from the terrace aren’t as quite good as from the other bungalows. Tientsin is however, the only bungalow with a tennis court (clay) and has the best night sky for star gazers. There are two good walks up into the tea hills
Norwood bungalow is a large & spacious 1950’s replacement of an existing manager’s bungalow and thus has the most modern styling of the properties. It sits high on a plateau surrounded on all sides by tea hills. The views are wonderful and you feel like you’re right in the middle of the tea picking action. But the payback of the location is that it can catch a lot of wind. To combat this, its extensive gardens are surrounded by mature trees. The swimming pool is amazing, at about 25m length and with giant bamboo at the end of it. Norwood tea factory sits just below the bungalow which is handy for the factory tours. There is one short (but steep) and one longer walk from the bungalow. Norwood is a popular bungalow with many guests staying for short periods and seemed popular with tour operators. The service is excellent and it can thus have the feel of an efficient, well-oiled, fast turnover machine. The walk between Norwood and Tientsin passes through estates not owned by Dilmah, is therefore not waymarked and requires a guide to take guests (at a charge).
Castlereagh, like Norwood, is a popular bungalow, probably because of its great lake views and grand feel. The views are arguably not as dramatic however, as those from Summerville. These two lakeside bungalows were built in the 1920’s and thus feel a little more modern in style than Tientsin. It’s a large, picturesque bungalow with 5 bedrooms, 2 sitting rooms and beautiful, manicured gardens, which seem somewhat safer for children than the other bungalows (see below). The pool is most definitely of the ‘dipping’ type; 2 strokes and you’re at the other end and it’s therefore not the best bungalow for keen swimmers. Its lakeside situation makes its two summerhouses great places to sit and read but means that mosquitoes can be a minor problem. It’s also surrounded by a village so isn’t as isolated in feel as Norwood or Castlereagh. There are two 6km walking trails from Castlereagh.
Summerville is the smallest (4 bedrooms) and quietest of the bungalows. It’s more a cosy cottage than a grand bungalow and has a different atmosphere with fewer guests (there were only ever 2 rooms occupied while we were there), a consequent high staff/ guest ratio, and a laid back, friendly, homely feel. The guest turnover seemed lower than other bungalows with people seeming to choose longer stays. It’s the only bungalow that doesn’t have a pool. It does however, have stunning views of Castlereagh lake and is the best bungalow for keen walkers with the most (3) and longest (9km) trails up into the tea hills behind. The master suite and Garnet both have lovely private gardens that must have previously had dramatic lake views. Growth of some giant bamboo have obscured the views but the gardens remain a great place to while away the afternoons between lunch and tea. The staff were probably the most friendly and attentive of the bungalows. Like Castlereagh which it faces over the lake mosquitoes were a minor annoyance after 5pm.
If you plan on walking between bungalows it’s worth knowing that the route Tientsin-Norwood- Castlereagh is predominantly downhill
Two points worth bearing in mind if you plan to bring children to Tea trails: most importantly, the gardens in all of the bungalows are terraced and offer no protection from falling onto lower levels. Young children would therefore need constant supervision when in the grounds. As might be expected, most guests don’t bring children and it wouldn’t surprise me if some objected to any disturbance.

  • Stayed: April 2011, traveled as a couple
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11  Thank Ellingham
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed April 21, 2011

There are so many glowing reviews it is difficult to know what to add; I agree with all of the positive things people have said. It's a wonderful place with lovely staff and a genuine discreet quality experience. There is no a/c but the temperature drops enough in the evening so that a ceiling fan is fine. We stayed in the Norwood bungalow which I would certainly recommend. It is high up and has extensive views. We also walked to Castlereagh which was also beautiful, lower and near the lake. I think Norwood is probably the most private of the 4 properties, with more space around it and not being close to any villages or roads. I think there was quite a price premium for the Garden Suite over the Superior room (ie the standard room). I'm not sure there was any material difference in size, the only apparent difference being that our room had doors leading straight out into the garden, unlike the superior room. I don't think this really adds much to the enjoyment of the bungalow, so I would not pay that premium again. When planning your tour, bear in mind that it does take about 5 hours to get here from (in our case) the Wallawwa near the airport; also if planning to go onto Yala after Tea Trails, that takes at least 6 hours to the gate of the park.

  • Stayed: March 2011, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank Musician101
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 20, 2011

If you appreciate the very best that a sybarite should appreciate, just make your booking at any one of the Ceylon Tea Trails bungalows and let your highly professional hosts work their magic. If you have the time, stay at two or more bungalows. Each one is different, but equally wonderful. One part of the fun is being with a handful of other guests who are as charmed and bedazzled as you are.

Room Tip: You need not have a care or concern. Just book it!
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  • Stayed: April 2011, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank Kenmujan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 14, 2011

Tea Trails Castlereigh is very special - the staff are really helpful, the food and drink are great and the rooms are beautiful. A very tranquil/relaxing setting especially after lots of early morning safaris and hectic sightseeing trips.

  • Stayed: March 2011, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank casablancaSriLanka
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 12, 2011

My husband and I spent three nights in the Castlereagh lodge in the Baker room, The room was fabulous. It was in the back corner with a huge private yard with lounge chairs under a covered patio so you could hang out there even when it was raining. Our friends had the room at the end (Palmer) which had a great view of the lake but didn't have a covered outside area. Both rooms were great but I preferred ours because it was larger, had an awesome bathroom, and was very Private.

I spent so much time on the rooms because everything else was top notch that you have to go and I think the Castlereagh bungalow is the best.

Sadly I can't eat spicy food and the staff was fabulous in accommodating special dietary constraints. The food,staff and accommodations were fabulous. I would go back in a heart beat. I would recommend, at a minimum, two nights and very glad we spent three nights.

  • Stayed: March 2011, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank franztini
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 7, 2011

A trip to Sri Lanka is not complete without a stay in the Tea Country. Though it isn't cheap, Ceylon Tea Trails is a wonderful, unforgettable experience. We stayed in two of the four tea planter bungalows during a three night stay. Castlereagh was our favourite. Set in breathtaking countryside, it's relaxed and informal. The staff are attentive but unobtrusive and the food a delight. Quite simply, it's as good as anywhere I've stayed and that's saying something.

  • Stayed: March 2011
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1  Thank Jonesrhodes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 2, 2011

We had the absolute good fortune to stay at the marvelous Castlereigh bungalow. Just have to concur with all the positive reviews--fabulous rooms, great service, outstanding location, excellent food. And given that the rates include all meals (including "bed tea" in the morning and totally superfluous but delicious afternoon tea) and a good selection of wine and liquor, we felt it was totally worth the price--would be at least double that in other parts of the world. If you go to Sri Lanka, and you should, this is a welcome respite from the crazy traffic and hectic pace.

Room Tip: Palmer Garden suite has the best views of the lak.
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  • Stayed: March 2011, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank Scubalo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Ceylon Tea Trails

Address: Dunkeld Estate, Hatton 22000, Sri Lanka
Location: Sri Lanka > Central Province > Hatton
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Hatton
Price Range: $908 - $954 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Ceylon Tea Trails 5*
Number of rooms: 27
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Ceylon Tea Trails, Sri Lanka's first Relais & Chateaux resort, is a collection of five colonial era tea planters' bungalows restored to impeccable style, offering a taste of gracious living in 27 suites and rooms, with butler service and original furnishings, accompanied by gourmet meals. Walking trails connect the bungalows which are from 2km to 15km apart. Follow the Tea Trail from one unique bungalow to the next, staying a night or two at each or just laze in one. Rates are fully inclusive of gourmet meals and drinks, including spirits and wines. Even service charges, taxes and laundry are included. We won't bother you with bills. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Ceylon Tea Trails Hatton
Ceylon Tea Trails Sri Lanka/Hatton

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