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“Fantastic Experience”
Review of Ceylon Tea Trails

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Ceylon Tea Trails
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Hatton
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 2 May 2014

We spent four days at Tientsin Bungalow and had the most fantastic experience. Within minutes of arriving in this beautiful location we'd moved into relaxation mode and felt completely at home. The bungalow was simply stunning and very homely.

We stayed in the Bretherton garden room, which was large, beautifully decorated and the outside terrace provided a great place to sit and relax. The bathroom was also large and if I had one criticism it would be that the shower over the bath leaked water all over the bathroom floor. But that really would be a bit picky - because the room was stunning. Initially, my husband was a bit surprised and distressed that there was not television in the room, but this really wasn't an issue as we had so much to do and it actually would have spoilt the ambience.

The food was also incredible - each meal was different, tasted completely fresh and healthy. The wine was also very generous. And the service was impeccable - attentive but not overbearing - and the staff were genuinely friendly.

We went for a number of walks in the tea plantations around the villa - which were well signed and simply beautiful. On one day we walked to Norwood Bungalow with a guide, who was very helpful as were all of the staff that we met during our holiday. The tea factory tour was also really interesting (if a little long).

We can't wait for our next trip to this hotel - although we will seriously consider getting there by helicopter as the trip from the airport is very long.

  • Stayed: March 2014, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Brit-abroad-in-Asia
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 2 May 2014

We had 1 night at Tientsin and 2 nights at Norwood.
For people not wanting to read my long winded write up please note that I would recommend Tientsin to anyone, all rooms are gorgeous and I would also recommend Castlereagh (I did not see Summerville); I did not feel Norwood was on par with Tientsin, but for younger kids Norwood has a pool table and a lot more grass area.

As a lot of comments mention we had a very long drive from Bentota and then to top it off our driver went to Castlereagh instead of Tientsin, because he had been there before and did not want to look at the map which was offered by Tea Trails. So by the time we arrived with two young kids we were not in a great mood. But this changed within seconds of meeting the staff and being shown to our amazing room.
If you like old world charm then this is the place; if you have kids then stay here in the family room, it is beyond spacious and the separate room for the kids is just as big as ours and both have fire places. The beds were fantastic and we all slept very soundly, with no problems of noise from the town as others have mentioned.
Then there is the staff, we will not forget Ajid because he could not do enough for us, he had the afternoon tea scones lined up for my son and the drinks on hand after a tough afternoon sitting by the pool. We played tennis on the clay court which was a blast for the kids and we biked on the trails which was great fun; try the 1.5hr walking trail it should not be missed and my wife and I loved this walk together.
The food was fantastic and it was great to sort this out with the chef before each meal, my son wanted the Sri Lankan curry (which is great at the tea trails) for every meal but we were happy to try a bit more western; the steak was as good as back in Australia.

Now to Norwood, unfortunately this was not up to the same standard as Tientsin; the rooms much smaller, the service not quite the same and the food also not quite what Tientsin was. This is still a gorgeous location and the view maybe more amazing if that is possible, also we met another family there which made it a lot more fun for the kids. The outside fireplace was a big hit, it was too warm for one inside and we really wanted to sit by a fire. The living area is a newer style with glass all around so it is much lighter the Tientsin, so if you prefer the light to an original interior then this may suit you better. I also have to mention that the staff here did an amazing job to actually make chocolate eggs for the kids for easter and put them in little baskets, it was pretty fantastic and they organised hard boiled eggs to paint at breakfast time.

Finally Ajid at Tientsin recommended us to take the train from Hatton to Kandy, we were going to drive. We decided at the last minute to give this a go and the staff at Norwood did a great job in getting tickets. This trip was fantastic and highly recommended. We were in 3rd class booths and we chatted along to local families and watch the beautiful countryside pass by; the guard even took my son to the drivers cabin for a bit. My only downside is that we did not take the train up and back from Colombo. Make sure you bring some food and water, the toilet was ok.

I would highly recommend the Ceylon Tea Trail experience, just prepare yourself for the car journey, but it is well worth the trip.

Room Tip: All rooms at Tientsin look gorgeous.
See more room tips
  • Stayed: April 2014, travelled with family
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2  Thank theworldismyoyster1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 May 2014 via mobile

We stayed at the Norwood estate in the room Andrews.

The stay was amazing. The estate is away from the city and on top of a hill.

The chef discusses the menu with you before every meal and you really feel like a plantation owner. The entire staff feels like they are there for you. The number of rooms in every estate is 5, so it feels very private.

The food was great.
The facility is amazing with pool and hillsides.
The hotel feels like a home.
You will truly enjoy your stay.
Everything is included in the stay - laundry, meals, drinks etc.

The only negative point was that a nearby village played loud music all day long.
Otherwise, the place is perfect.

Totally recommended.

Stayed: April 2014, travelled as a couple
1  Thank Mohit S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 April 2014

We have been lucky enough to travel the world for 30+ years with our jobs and think we have a decent understanding of quality..."Ceylon Tea Trails" is as good as it gets, anywhere in the world. The bungalows are stunning and you live like you are in a bygone era...we stayed in the Palmer Suite of the "Castlereagh Bungalow" and enjoyed every minute of it...the food is wonderful, the staff are superb and the setting is magnificent. We decided to do the Norwood Tea Factory tour which sounds a tad "touristy", but it was brilliant thanks to Andrew Taylor who is a retired tea planter and a wonderful character. Overall, "Ceylon Tea Trails" is boutique hospitality at its very, very best...BRILLIANT!!!

  • Stayed: April 2014, travelled as a couple
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Thank dspencerstripe
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 April 2014

Light and airy Norwood is furnished in plain 1950's style, very evocative of my long-distant childhood. It appears to have been recently refurbished; everything was immaculate including the glorious gardens, full of flowers. Views and climate are wonderful; peace reigns. It is the perfect place to sit in the sun with a book.

We were told to treat the place as our own (even bedroom keys are not issued unless requested) and it is amazing how quickly that feels just right. I don't think I have ever been so relaxed in my life.

Our room was Jeffery. Not huge but perfectly fine, dark red furnishings very 1950's, and we loved the plain white bathroom with a big tub (shower over) and pair of washbasins. Safe, hairdryer, no TV, no airco (not needed at that altitude), instead a big fan which we also did not need. As usual in Sri Lanka, no tea/ coffee facilities but a morning tray was brought in.

Drinks (hot/ cold/ alcoholic, all inclusive) available pretty much any time. An orange juice took rather long to arrive but only because it was being freshly-squeezed.

All inclusive deal even included free same-day laundry service (no dry-cleaning) which was very useful mid-tour.

There is a pool table, plenty of books and magazines and there are quiet places to sit or sprawl, inside and out. My husband took the full-morning tour of the Norwood tea factory, with very knowledgeable guide, and was well impressed. There are marked walking routes in the area, which I would guess are wonderful for the able-bodied.

Unfortunately the beautiful pool was really cold; unavoidable no doubt; I love to swim but I couldn't stay in long.

Food was plentiful, well-flavoured and beautifully presented, including wonderful afternoon tea.. My one criticism would be that meat, both pork and chicken, seemed to have been incorrectly cooked (dry-roated to death I think) - rather dry and hard. The Caesar salad with prawns was lovely.

Much is made of the chef approaching to discuss the menu but it is really only to inform what is being served; I did not have the impression there was a choice available though no doubt if you object something else can be arranged. I did appreciate being asked on arrival whether we had specific dietary requirements - we don't but good to know that those who do are catered for.

Service throughout was excellent.

As I mentioned, we were happy with our room though not the biggest at the property. However, we did talk to other guests who said they were unhappy with theirs, due to small size, few windows and sleep disruption due to location next to the kitchen.

  • Stayed: March 2014, travelled as a couple
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Thank Trisha K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 April 2014

Somewhere along the way my $200 headphones went missing :o(. We arrived at Summerville after a tedious 5 hour taxi ride from Colombo airport. Beautiful place, great room, immaculate service. We only stayed one night and then moved onto Tientsin. Another beautiful bungalow although unfortunately there was some celebration happening in a nearby village so the lovely peace & quiet was continuously interrupted throughout the day and night by loudspeaker wailing.

Food was amazing in both bungalows although a bit hit & miss with the daily ritual of choosing a menu with the chef! Personally we like to choose from a written menu and it gets a bit embarrassing when the chef offers two starters that neither of us fancy (& we are definitely NOT fussy eaters!). It ended up like a guessing game. By day 3 we just wanted tomato soup & pasta! Loved high tea & the sausages at breakfast were amazing. Special Sri Lankan curry made for my partners birthday and birthday cake brought out by all the staff singing happy birthday - nice touch.

Went on the tea factory tour one day. Not sure about the hygiene or safety standards there - birds flying around, guys standing on tables fixing lights/machinery - got the distinct impression you get the party line we were given doesn't reflect the reality.

So, back to the headphones..... these were dutifully packed into the rucksack from the plane upon our arrival at Colombo airport. We never used them or even took them out of the bag during our stay at the bungalows and didn't even realise they were missing until we got on the train at Hatton heading back to Colombo. We emailed Tientsin immediately as that was our last port if call - we didn't receive a reply. I emailed head office when we got home & received a bog standard 'we don't have them' reply - have never heard anything since.

All in all the holiday was great. We loved the bungalows, we loved the tea trails, we loved the food, the atmosphere & all in all ambience. You really are looked after, just make sure u utilise the safe for everything u can get in them.

  • Stayed: March 2014, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank Hufflepuff33
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 21 April 2014

We stayed here for three nights and would say that, without a doubt, this is one of the best hotels we have ever stayed in. The quality of the location, the service, the food, the accommodation is absolutely unbeatable - all served up with the charm of a bygone era. We cannot hesitate to recommend this highly enough.

  • Stayed: April 2014, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank Jackie B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Ceylon Tea Trails

Address: Dunkeld Estate, Hatton 22000, Sri Lanka
Region: Sri Lanka > Central Province > Hatton
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Hatton
Price Range: £679 - £756 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Ceylon Tea Trails 5*
Number of rooms: 27
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Ceylon Tea Trails, Sri Lanka's first Relais & Chateaux resort, is a collection of five colonial era tea planters' bungalows restored to impeccable style, offering a taste of gracious living in 27 suites and rooms, with butler service and original furnishings, accompanied by gourmet meals. Walking trails connect the bungalows which are from 2km to 15km apart. Follow the Tea Trail from one unique bungalow to the next, staying a night or two at each or just laze in one. Rates are fully inclusive of gourmet meals and drinks, including spirits and wines. Even service charges, taxes and laundry are included. We won't bother you with bills. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Ceylon Tea Trails Hatton
Ceylon Tea Trails Sri Lanka/Hatton

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