Ceylon Tea Trails | Bogawantalawa | Sri Lanka



“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 {en: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, {en: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.

In central Sri Lanka, just 4 hours from Colombo by car is the Castlereagh Lake, which lies amidst 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 is located 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 standard rooms, luxury rooms and suites in all bungalows.

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 cashew nuts. Watch the lake and study the garden bees, while reading Somerset Maugham.

You set your own pace while at Tea Trails. Unwind in the 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 a magical world of Ceylon tea.


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 bungalows 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. Go trekking and picnic at spectacular locations each day in the cool comforting and super fresh mountain air. These four bungalows realise your dreams in a “non-hotel” atmosphere. Heritage in a contemporary style is the hallmark of the Tea Trails experience.

Spacious bedrooms make up your private space to unwind after a long trek. The rooms are all 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 a unique style, ranging from neo-colonial to classic English.

Master Suites have their own separate living rooms, Garden Suites with verandahs leading on to private gardens and Luxury Rooms of great character. Ensuite bathrooms of exquisite old world English elegance offer occupants a chance to travel back in time to the days of the {en:British Raj}. This place is truly 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.


The cuisine at Ceylon Tea Trails takes its cue from the long tradition of dining well at the tea planter’s table: nostalgic flavours of Europe and a tradition of service and pampering unique to British colonial times.

Tea Trails is all about the time-honoured planters’ traditions: Roaring fires and the comfort of a single malt whiskey while the mists roll in, or a stiff gin and tonic after a long day’s walk in the tea gardens accompanied by the spicy flavours of Sri Lankan nibbles to stimulate the appetite. Scrumptious afternoon high teas in gardens curiously English and exotic at the same time. A four-course dinner that is at once contemporary and colonial with its garden-fresh ingredients married with good wines, best shared in good company. Or a fabulously aromatic, authentic Sri Lankan rice and curry for lunch — a definite harbinger of the afternoon siesta.

The day at Tea Trails starts with that wonderful colonial institution, Bed Tea. Served by your butler as part of a gentle wake-up call, this must be the most civilized way to start the day. An early morning walk followed by an English breakfast-with-everything is a must at least once during your sojourn at Tea Trails. A perfectly brewed cup of tea accompanies eggs, bacon, sausages, mushrooms, grilled tomatoes, marmalade, butter, toast, freshly squeezed juice… and anything else you may care to add.

A unique aspect of Tea Trails’ cuisine is the use of fresh, home grown vegetables, herbs and teas from the surrounding gardens. Crunchy baby carrots, luscious purple beetroot, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, deep red cherry tomatoes, green and yellow zucchini, celery, crisp cucumbers, radish, rhubarb and red, green and yellow peppers. Salad greens – iceberg lettuce, roquette and local red and green varieties — are freshly picked from the bungalow gardens.

Fresh home-grown herbs such as basil, rosemary, thyme, tarragon, sage, parsley and mint inspire and enliven the chef’s menus every day: Broccoli with roasted almond soup with blue cheese. Keemun tea and fresh tarragon infused roasted chicken with braised curly cabbage and baby carrot. Oyster mushroom soup with garden fresh basil pesto. Moroccan mint tea crusted lamb rump steak with grilled herb polenta and roasted peppers in tamarind sauce. Zucchini and pumpkin frittata with rocket and pine nut salad.

Desserts are unashamedly luscious: Orange and lime cheese cake with cinnamon rhubarb. Apple tart with Assam tea cream anglaise. Cinnamon tea poached pears with butter scotch ice cream. Passion fruit pannacotta with minted citrus fruit salad. Banana and sultana compote served with Hibiscus sorbet.

Traditional English afternoon tea is an intrinsic part of plantation life, a much-appreciated ritual served on the bungalow lawns by immaculately sarong clad “apoos.” High Tea comes replete with a traditional tea service, dainty cucumber sandwiches, scones, fresh cream and strawberry jam.


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.

Check-in/Check-out: Normal Check-in is 12.00 noon and Check-Out is 11.00am. Earlier Check-in or later Check-out time can be requested on a case by case basis and the hotel may agree depending on availability.

Address: Bogawantalawa, Sri Lanka
Airport: Colombo International


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2 comments on “Ceylon Tea Trails | Bogawantalawa | Sri Lanka
  1. Eric Hundin says:

    I found your blog on MSN Search. Nice writing. I will check back to read more.

    Eric Hundin

  2. graziana says:

    vivo in sri lanka da un anno e mezzo. adoro le case in stile duch per non parlare dei resort sempre sullo stesso stile fresco, confortevole, riposante. i mobili in stile coloniale credo inglese. be! ce’della vera bellezza. poi immagino di andare indietro nel tempo e di vedere come le signore vestite in mussolina bianca con larghi copri capo con il velo spiovente a coprire il viso e i locali servitori per eccellenza a piedi nudi con passi ovattati che percorrono pavimenti lucidissimi in legno e il profumo della buona cera che sprigiona dai mobili. be! lo sri lanka e’meraviglioso, ma cosa e’cambiato per essere ora cosi’piagata dalla poveta’in mezzo a tanto splendore? da graziana

3 Pings/Trackbacks for "Ceylon Tea Trails | Bogawantalawa | Sri Lanka"
  1. […] says: ‘If you stay in one place when in Sri Lanka, make sure this is it!’ Ceylon Tea Trails comprises four colonial tea planters’ bungalows, set among lush Ceylon tea estates, and […]

  2. Tea Chef says:

    antique tea…

    Tea Chef…

  3. […] close on the heels of the two awards won in 2009, Ceylon Tea Trails has won three Travellers’ Choice Awards in 2010 from TripAdvisor Honours World’s Top […]