“Four luxurious tea plantation houses set in stunning hill country, all with impeccable service and fine cuisine, linked by walking and cycling trails”
Surrounded by manicured gardens, the 4 bungalows have been elegantly refurbished by interior designer Deirdre Renniers to showcase their colonial architecture. Colours are creamy and warm; beds are large and deliciously comfortable; furniture is tastefully modern yet in harmony with the bungalows' heritage. Victorian features meet the 21st century: you get old-fashioned rolltops baths (no separate showers), as well as internet connections.
Each bungalow has a choice of 3 room types: the Luxury Rooms are the simplest (though still very comfy), the Garden Suites have verandas onto the garden and the Master Suites have a separate living room. You are normally assigned to whichever bungalow has space for your chosen dates, but if you have a preference you can but ask.
The Castlereagh bungalow is an imposing century-old house overlooking the reservoir, which has 3 superb garden suites and 2 luxury rooms. It features beautiful parquet floors, summer houses, a library, a swimming pool and open fireplaces in the dining and living rooms.
Summerville is 4 km away across Castlereagh reservoir and is more of a traditional cottage. Here you can book the Master Suite, 2 Garden Suites and 1 Luxury Room separately or together. Some suites have private gardens; all have easy access to the cosy living room with a fireplace and picture windows. High above the reservoir lake with views of the hills, it also has an infinity edge swimming pool, a summer house and a sunbathing deck.
Norwood is at the eastern end of the valley, 12 km from Castlereagh (15 minutes by car). This newer house (it was rebuilt in the 1940s) is set away from the lake in the heart of the Norwood tea estate and is sheltered by bamboo stands. The 5 suites and rooms, some with four-poster beds, are accompanied by a library, veranda, summer house, large swimming pool, sun deck, croquet lawn, imposing colonial furniture and elegant bathrooms. There are polished stone floors throughout and lovely black and white photographs adorn the walls.
Tientsin is 15 km upriver from Norwood and is named after the Chinese village from where the original tea came. One of the first houses to be built in the tea country, its magnificent gardens pay tribute to the English tea planters' wives who created 'a little bit of home' by planting glorious roses and arbours. Six airy suites and rooms, wonderful polished wooden floors, high ceilings, log fires, four-poster beds, an infinity pool, a sun deck and a tennis court contribute to Tientsin's delightful ambience.
Each bungalow has its own chef and staff. Meals are cooked to order using fresh produce, with dishes ranging from western fare to tea-infused creations and Sri Lankan classics. Choice is the watchword here - you arrange with the chef when, what and where you want to eat.
Wake up to a full English or a traditional Sri Lankan breakfast along with a fruit platter and toast. Picnic lunch baskets are provided for those on expeditions - perhaps cold roast beef sandwiches with a delicious salad - and for those who'd rather savour the views back at the house, there's soup and a range of curries. Just make sure you return by 5pm when a full English afternoon tea is served.
Sundowners can be taken on the terrace or in the garden - there is a cocktail of the day. Dinner usually has four courses - lamb with an Earl Grey tea crust followed by chocolate mousse cake, for example - and you can select your favourite tipple from the Australian wines and spirits on the drinks list. You can dine on the terrace (overlooking the pool if in Castlereagh), in the dining room, in your suite, on the veranda or in one of the summer houses in the garden (weather permitting).
Children of all ages are welcome and cots are provided free of charge. Two children up to the age of 12 can share their parents' room and extra beds can be provided for a fee.
There are lots of fun activities for kids, including swimming in the lakes and exploring the grounds, as well as boating, cycling and nature trails for the whole family. There is even a Junior Tea Experience especially for children.
Note that Ceylon Tea Trails is primarily set up for couples and an older clientele, they try not to have several families staying at the same time.
Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)
Cots Available, Extra Beds Available
Baby cots available on request
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
Swimming, tennis, croquet and cycling
Nature trails, boating and the Junior Tea Experience