Hotels – Tea Trails

In central Sri Lanka, just 4 hours from Colombo by car to the Castlereagh Lake, lies the Bogawantalawa Valley, known as the Golden Valley of Tea and home to old Ceylon, replete with rolling green hills, plantation bungalows, high tea and exquisite service.

Here in solitude, at an elevation of 4000 feet above sea level, lies Ceylon Tea Trails, 4 classic colonial bungalows built for British tea estate managers in the days of the Raj. These historic houses have been restored by Dilmah Tea with the co-operation of Bogawantalawa Tea Estates, to offer guests the unique experience of life on a working tea estate. Bungalow sizes range from 4 to 6 rooms; 20 luxurious rooms and suites in all.

You set your own pace while at Tea Trails. Unwind in our beautiful gardens, visit a factory for a gentle education in the art of Ceylon Tea or spend an adventure-filled day biking, trekking and white-water rafting. We promise you an unforgettable holiday that will rejuvenate your spirit in the heart of the magical world of Ceylon tea.

Tea Country

“Not often is it that men have heart when their one great industry is withered, to rear up in a few years another as rich to take its place, and the tea fields of Ceylon are as true a monument to courage as is the lion at Waterloo”
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes

Conan Doyle refers to the heroics of the early Ceylon planters and the disasters they overcame to mould the present tea industry. In 1865 the coffee plantations were devastated by blight. The plucky planters fought back and planted tea. The reversal was dramatic as the extract relates. From utter despair and penury to endless green acres.

Over 200,000 hectares of rolling tea carpeted hills make Sri Lanka the world’s largest exporter. Nimble pluckers still handpick “two leaves and a bud”. Tea from Sri Lanka is still known by the country’s former name of Ceylon, a name synonymous with the finest tea.

The Tea Country is the most scenic part of Sri Lanka with breathtaking views of mountain ranges and ravines, of winding roads and waterfalls. It is home to one of the most significant landmarks in the country, Adam’s Peak, the second highest peak at 7360 feet but second to none in its cultural importance. The holy mountain holds significance to Buddhists, Muslims and Christians alike. Almost daily, hundreds of devotees make the six hour trek to the peak, climbing thousands of steps to welcome the dawn – one of the most spectacular sights in Sri Lanka .


Each of the four bungalows is different. Summerville with an air of a country cottage, Castlereagh with an eclectic style of its own, the high colonial Tientsin; one of the first planter’s residences to be built in Ceylon and the more modern Norwood; abounding with 60’s character. Summerville and Castlereagh are situated opposite each other on the shores of the Castlereagh lake, Norwood is at the other end of the valley about 15 minutes away by car and Tientsin is about 30 minutes away in the next valley.

Each house comes with its own manager, chef, butler and houseboys and from 4 to 6 luxurious Master Suites, Garden Suites and Luxury Rooms. You can book a room or the entire bungalow.

Follow the Tea Trail from one unique bungalow to the next, staying a night or two at each or just laze in one. Trek and picnic at spectacular locations each day in cool comfort. These four bungalows realise your dreams in a “non-hotel” atmosphere. Heritage with a contemporary style is the hallmark of the Tea Trails experience.


Life in all its variety is played out in the living rooms. Pale tones and natural wood create equilibrium in the midst of a hectic life. Each bungalow has many sitting areas, old wooden desks to write postcards with real stamps and not just email. Silk cushions, regency stripped footstools, huge spaces warmed by roaring log fires. Mulled wine or the finest spirits, a drink that thrills the heart. Old books, old prints, antique maps, rooms filled with flowers in vibrant colours.

Wide verandahs. Time for relaxing on cushioned cane chairs, waited on hand and foot by the discreet butler. Long expanses of slate to spend long afternoons, with a gimlet, white wine and cucumber sandwiches or fresh roasted cashews. Watch the lake and study the garden bees, while reading Somerset Maugham.


Spacious bedrooms, a private space, to unwind after a long trek. Rooms with a view, letting the sunlight in, smooth weathered teak floors, warm clay tiles. Relax in immense four-poster beds, crisp white sheets. Twenty elegant and charming rooms and suites decorated each in an unique style, ranging from neo-colonial to classic English.

Master Suites with a separate living room, Garden Suites with verandahs to private gardens and Luxury Rooms of great character. Ensuite Bathrooms of exquisite English elegance for a cool shower or a warm tropical flower bath. A personal oasis in the heart of the hill country. Wake up to the sound of bird calls and watch the mist rise over the lake, while shafts of sunlight streak through – it’s a new day.


Long teak tables and chairs in old gold. Moonlight through the window gently glows in the room, filled with the light of candles. Fine cuisine. Tea infused dishes. Sri Lankan classics. Seafood grills, fresh tropical fruit, rich chocolate cakes, the finest wines and vegetables from organic plots around the estate. A formal dinner or a simple alfresco lunch. Meals, wines and spirits included in your rate, no bills to sign. A butler at your beck and call.


Sweeping lawns and swimming pools. English gardens filled with roses, dew-filled agapanthus and spring crocus. Tea on the lawn, with Dundee cake, scones, strawberries and cream or lunch alfresco by the pool, a 180-degree view of the viridian lake and mountains behind, a summerhouse to meditate in or watch the forest wagtail flit from tree to tree. A range of pampering in-room spa treatments by expert therapists trained at our own Spa Academy. Tennis, swimming, croquet and indoor board games all come together for a leisurely lifestyle.


First the “Tea Experience” with our Planter in Residence. Follow the trail of the planters of old Ceylon, as they trekked through the dense jungle looking for the best slopes on which to plant tea. Then on to watch the tea pluckers pick two leaves and a bud with deft hands. A tea factory visit is a must to see the care with which the leaves are dried and processed for the “single origin tea” that Dilmah is famed for. Follow the scratch marks of the Gallus Lafayetii the endemic jungle fowl on a bird watching expedition. Kayaking, rafting on the white water or boating on the lake. A dawn expedition to climb the famed “ Adams Peak ” mountain nearby. Golfing, biking and trekking are some of the exhilarating sports on offer. Trek through some of the most beautiful and scenic country in the island. Tea Trails provides many activities for the adventurous.



Tea Trails is ideally suited for a small wedding party of up to 25 guests. The nearby Warleigh Church is ideal for the marriage ceremony. Built in 1878 by early British planters out of granite and imported teak, it has beautiful stained glass windows. Situated on top of a tea covered hill overlooking the Castlereagh lake, it is the most stunning location for a wedding in Sri Lanka . A little cemetery surrounds this church where British planters and their loved ones are buried, a reverent reminder to their pioneering spirit.

Honeymoons & Anniversaries

The privacy and solitude at Tea Trails is perfectly suited for a blissful honeymoon. Long walks through beautiful tea country, evenings sipping wine in front of a log fire and being pampered by the staff, in room Spa treatments and private dining underneath the stars will make for a memorable honeymoon.


Brainstormings and board meetings in total seclusion on a working tea estate, far from the distractions of the city or beach resort. The atmosphere and climate is perfectly suited for crystal clear thinking. Outdoor bonding/team activities can be arranged. Depending on the size of the group one or more of the bungalows can be booked in its entirety. The nearby 100-year old Darrawela Planter’s Club also offers facilities for small conferences as well as the usual club facilities such as tennis, snooker, pool, a well stocked bar, badminton as well as Cricket and Rugby grounds. For small resident groups Tea Trails is the premier location for out-of-the-box thinking.



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