Need to know
21, including 13 suites.
11am, but a room for late-flight-exits is offered when available. Check-in, 12pm.
Double rooms from $472.44, excluding tax at 27 per cent.
Rates include morning tea, full cooked breakfast, daily three-course lunch (or picnic) and four-course dinner, high tea, pre-dinner cocktails and canapés, all soft drinks and selected alcoholic alcoholic drinks, laundry, taxes and service.
Guests get a free tour of the tea factory and fields with the hotel's resident tea planter, including a tasting session. Between February and mid April, the valleys come alive with the annual Sami Komadu (Hindu temple) festivals: expect to hear drumming, dancing, singing and other sounds.
At the hotel
A butler for each house, library of books and DVDs, free WiFi throughout, gardens, clay tennis court, croquet lawns, guest bikes, picnic baskets to order. In rooms: wood fires, waffle-linen robe and acupressure flip-flops, organic bath unguents including green tea soap.
Our favourite rooms
Ceylon Tea Trails is made up of four colonial-era tea-planters' bungalows, scattered around Castlereagh Lake. Flaunting heritage style, each features graceful top-tier Master Suites, Garden Suites and Luxury Rooms, and comes with its own manager, chef, butler and house boys. Rooms are allocated according to availability, so you can't guarantee your first choice, but the charm of the place means everyone will claim 'their' bungalow is best. Cottage-cosy Summerville (1923) is the quietest, perched above the lake with uninterrupted views of the water and verdant hills. Glamourpuss Castlereagh (1925) is set right on the lake's edge with extensive gardens, two summerhouses and fab views. Closest to the Norwood tea factory, Norwood (1890; rebuilt 1940) feels more modern, with sensational valley vistas. Classic Tientsin (1888) enjoys the highest altitude (4,600ft) and the best pool.
Each of the four bungalows boast refreshingly <i>au naturel</i> outdoor pools: mountain spring-fed and unheated, fringed by cushioned teak loungers aplenty. Breezy Tientsin's stylish infinity pool can be bracing, but is the best of the bunch, set in a clandestine upper-terrace garden for maximum privacy and minimum mozzies. Norwood's pool comes with the most expansive views for sublime swimming. Castlereagh has the smallest pool, flanked by a Scottish 'loch' and tea hills, so suits dilettante dippers who prefer plunging and lounging.
Raincoats are provided but a pashmina will be invaluable for cooler evenings. No need for wellies: in the tropics, the free bathroom flip-flops can substitute. A sketchpad for recording the ravishing vistas won't go amiss.
A peak season supplement of US$200 a room, each night, including tax, is payable direct to the hotel for stays from 20 December–10 January. Alcohol cannot be served on the Poya bank holiday, which occurs once a month during the full moon.
Welcome: up to two under-12s can share their parents' room with an extra bed or baby cots supplied for free (supplement payable for food only). As this is a tranquil hideaway, children are asked to be quiet inside bungalows so as not to disturb guests.
Ceylon Tea Trails has a sedate, tranquil feel, so may not suit a boisterous brood, but children are welcome and will love the country location and sporty activities.
As most guests leave tots at home, well-behaved bookworms over 12 will fit in best, but kids under 12 can share your room for free.
Parents can add one extra bed and a baby cot for two children under-12 to any room at no extra charge (there's just a supplement for food and drink), but Master Suites have their own private living area for added romping space.
Distract the smalls with board games a-plenty, or work off their energy with a game of tennis, croquet or trekking on the many local trails. The over-10s should enjoy the guided mountain bike rides, but whitewater rafting is for over-12s only. Older children may get a kick out of visiting a local tea plantation, and all kids will enjoy the hotel's natural, lakeside setting.
There are no lifeguards at the bungalow pools, so kids will need to be watched.
The kitchen will happily supply meals to suit children's needs.
No need to pack
Baby cots, which are supplied free of charge. Marmite soldiers or pudding!
Families with children will be booked into the same bungalow. Castlereagh has the most child-friendly garden, but kids will need supervising at Summerville and Tientsin where terraced gardens are rife with tempting ledges. Other guests come for solitude and relaxation so may not appreciate noise if they have no children of their own. Ceylon Tea Trails asks parents to ensure kids aren't noisy inside the bungalows, as there are plenty of opportunities for letting off steam outdoors and on the hotel's fun excursions.
There's a strong eco-friendly flavour here, with all three swimming pools fed by mountain springs, and in-room herbal and organic toiletries drawing on teas and essential oils grown in the local hills. Tea is also used in the hotel's cuisine, making the most of its natural antioxidant qualities.