The Glenburn Tea Estate ranks as one of the best places we have stayed at, ever. And this is not praise we give lightly!
We were collected from the airport and taken on the 3 hour drive to Glenburn by one of their staff. Although the road is steep and narrow, the driver was extremely proficient and competent. He stopped halfway, and proceeded to get out a picnic of homemade sandwiches and cake, as well as Glenburn tea, which was poured into china cups on a wicker tray!
When we arrived, we were greeted with cold lemonade, and taken to our room - the Singalila Suite in the Water Lily Bungalow. This MUST rate as the best room in the Estate. Through the big picture windows were wonderful views of the Himalayas, and Kangchenjunga. There was a large, comfortable 4 poster bed in a huge colonial style room. The bathroom was spacious with a roll top bath.
Afternoon tea is served on the veranda in the main bungalow; followed by pre dinner drinks (either by a big bonfire or on the veranda). Although drinks are extra, it was a nominal charge - about 200 rupees or £2.50 for a gin and tonic. Dinner is served in the main dining room around a communal table. The food was absolutely excellent and it was lovely meeting the other guests - from the US, Canada, Australia and France, whilst we were there. The hotel is more than willing to serve you a private dinner, if you're not up to socialising.
Every evening they ask you at what time you would like 'bed tea', which is where they bring you tea to your room in the morning. We always asked for it very early, so we could sit in our room, with a wonderful pot of Glenburn tea and cookies, watching dawn break over the mountains. I get goose bumps just thinking about it!
Sanjay, the tea plantation manager, joined us most nights for dinner, and we all stayed on the veranda until late, drinking wine and setting the world to rights. You honestly felt more like honoured family guests than 'hotel clients'.
All excursions are included. Glenburn provide a list of suggestions in your room, ranging from a 2 1/2 hour hike down to the river (within their grounds), to full days out visiting Darjeeling, or a day visiting their tea plantation/factory and local village/school.
On the first day we took the hike to the river. All trips are guided; the staff that work in the hotel, share guiding duties. Halfway down to the river, our young guide removed a flask from her rucksack and proceeded to pour us homemade lemonade into glasses, which she presented on a tray! We had opted to have lunch down by the river. When we arrived, a beautiful table was set up with fresh salads, and we were waited on wonderfully!
I could rave on about the 4 nights we stayed there, but I'm hoping that this will suffice. Our 4 nights were no where near enough - we'd have like to stay a week at least! Throughout the rest of our tour of India, we would keep saying...'If we were at Glenburn.....' ie on the early morning river trip in Varanasi; 'If this was organised by Glenburn, we'd have been offered a lovely cup of monsoon tea by now in a china cup....'.
If you stay in Calcutta beforehand, do take advantage of Glenburn's guided package there. It was an excellent day; if you're lucky you'll be looked after by Bompti....
A fabulous stay, without exception. We SO hope to come back and stay again.
- Also Known As:
- Glenburn Tea Estate Hotel Darjeeling
- Glenburn Tea Estate West Bengal