TRAVEL | 4 NOV 2016 | BY LAUREN HO
Ceylon Tea Trails hotel - Bogawantalawa, Sri Lanka
While Sri Lanka is generally associated with palm trees and endless white sandy beaches, further inland, among the surging mountainous landscape, the temperature cools and a curtain of mist blankets a rolling sweep of emerald tea plantations.
Deep within these hills, set over 2,000 acres, Ceylon Tea Trails comprises five colonial-style bungalows scattered along the banks of Castlereagh Lake and down into the Bogawantalawa valley. Each named after past tea planter occupants, the cottages - which were all originally built between 1888 and 1950 - have all been sympathetically restored to provide a total of 26 plush rooms between them.
First opened in 2005, the latest bungalow to join the fold is Dunkeld. Perched on a promontory, with sweeping vistas of the montane forests and the turquoise waters of the lake below, the four-bedroom house, along with a separate two-room owner’s cottage, imbues the atmosphere of a private club, with parquet flooring, roaring log fires, claw-footed baths and cosy four-poster beds.
Legs wearied after a day of outdoor activities including hikes, white water rafting or - our pick - exploring the tea plantation and factory, head back for a soak in the infinity pool and Jacuzzi with a stiff gin and tonic, made by your personal butler, before tucking into a meal cooked to your specifics by the onsite chef.
Launching soon will be the spruced-up Summerville bungalow, and while Dunkeld is our pick, not least for its panoramic views, each cottage has its own unique characteristics, with Tientsin and its enchanting secret gardens coming in at a close second.