Glenburn Tea Estate, a luxury hotel in West Bengal, suits travellers to a 'tea' (chortle…). With eight rooms in two historic bungalows, on a plantation in the Himalayas, the hotel takes a quantum leap into India's colonial past (with a steamer full of luxury extras, of course). Original plantation buildings – formerly workers' huts – have been scrubbed, varnished, and furnished with antiques; however, the views of emerald hills are evergreen in their beauty. Outdoor pursuits require more effort than putting a kettle on, with Himalayan hikes and fishing in a nearby river, but it's worth working up an appetite: a reward of exceptional Indian food awaits. After dinner sip a cup of house-grown tea on the veranda, gazing out at the far-off mountain peaks.
Anytime before 11pm, the hotel are very flexible, subject to guests’ transfer times. Earliest check-in, 6am.
Double rooms from £364.33 (INR35,067), including tax at 6.75 per cent.
Rates include all meals and transportation in a chauffeured car.
Take advantage of your tea-centric surroundings with the hotel's full-day Tea Experience, which includes a lengthy walk to the tea factory, a tasting and a tour through the plantation, stopping for lunch by the nearby river.
At the hotel
Gardens, library, spa, valet parking, and free WiFi throughout. In rooms: free bottled water, Glenburn Therapy by Mountain Valley Springs bath products.
Our favourite rooms
Each room is decorated around a unique theme (birds, butterflies, and local flora and fauna) and opens out to a veranda. Overlooking its namesake mountain range, the Singalila Suite has two private balconies for double the views, and a four-poster bed, positioned so couples can watch the sunrise over the peaks beyond the tea fields.
The Glenburn Therapy Mini Spa offers massages in one treatment room using green-tea-infused house oils. Guests can get mini shoulder or foot massages on the verandas or out in the gardens.
Comfortable walking shoes are practically mandatory for exploring the vast gardens and grounds.
Three rooms in the Burra Bungalow can accommodate wheelchairs; the bungalow has two entry steps, but staff are happy to assist.
All ages are welcome. The expansive grounds and gardens are ideal for playtime. Cribs and highchairs are available for little ones.
The hotel is a member of the Rainforest Alliance, committed to protecting local forests and wildlife. Food in the restaurant is grown on-site or locally, where possible, using organic, seasonal, fair-trade and free-range ingredients. The hotel also composts, recycles and reuses.
Take a table under the pomelo tree for the most fragrant and peaceful setting.
Perky floral patterns and billowing blouses are best for this classically decorated, English-inspired space.
There’s no dedicated restaurant, but the hotel serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, using freshly gathered ingredients from the hotel gardens. In lieu of a menu, the kitchen tailors dishes to guests’ desires. Local specialties are served alongside Southeast Asian favorites and some Continental options, as well as Tibetan dishes like momos (dumplings). Meals are served in several romance-laden settings, such as the gardens, veranda and the candlelit Dining Room.
There is no bar, but drinks are served before dinner, wherever guests congregate. Opt for a classic cocktail or a tea-inspired drink made with oolong-infused vodka.
Breakfast is typically served from 7am to 11am and dinner from 7:30pm to 9:30pm, but the team is flexible.
A vast array of hot dishes, baked goods and sandwiches are available from 6am until 11pm.
Glenburn Tea Estate & Boutique Hotel
Glenburn Tea Estate is in the northernmost part of West Bengal, set high on a leafy hilltop, due south of ruggedly beautiful state Sikkim.
Bagdogra Airport, a four-hour drive away, is the nearest to the hotel. Fly to New Delhi (Virgin Atlantic and British Airways fly direct from the UK; Air India and United from the US) or Kolkata; from there Spice Jet and Jet Airways run frequent flights to Bagdogra (around a two-hour journey). Transfers from here to the hotel are included at no additional cost.
New Jalpaiguri railway station in Siliguri is a four-hour drive from the hotel, offering connections to New Delhi and Kolkata. The hotel provides free transfers.
The road to Glenburn can be bumpy and stressful, so driving is not advised. Luckily, the hotel offers unlimited chauffeuring to ease the stress on travellers.
Helicopter charters are available on request.
Worth getting out of bed for
Learn the basics (and some of the less-basic bits) of Bengali cuisine from the talented kitchen crew in a cooking class. Private lessons can be arranged on request. Surrounded by gardens, farmland and forest, Glenburn Tea Estate has plenty of greenery for guests to explore and a resident naturalist to accompany guests on hikes, identifying new and noteworthy plants and critters. The Glenburn Campsite, by the River Rangeet, is the ideal setting for fishing, bird-watching and picnics. Up to four hours away by foot, the campsite is the ideal spot for a day trip, and the hotel can arrange overnight stays at a secluded log cabin on-site – staff will even spark up a toasty bonfire for you.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this country hotel amid lush plantations in West Bengal’s hills, unpacked their loose-leaf teas and put the kettle on, a full account of their Himalayan break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Glenburn Tea Estate in India…
There’s rarely been an afternoon-tea setting so scenic as luxury hotel Glenburn Tea Estate’s veranda. It serves as a viewing platform for the residence’s 600 hectares of tea fields and rolling hills. Glenburn is a serene escape from busier pockets of India; located an hour from Darjeeling, within view of the Himalayas, the hotel introduces guests to historic Sikkim. Each of the eight rooms, including seven suites, is uniquely decorated, with local art and textiles, and mountain views. Though guests could spend a month exploring the hotel grounds and studying the tea-making process, Glenburn is perfectly positioned to take advantage of the natural attractions of Northern India. The staff source local ingredients and pick home-grown vegetables to use in Southeast Asian curries and more in the house restaurant. Activities tend towards the adrenaline-fuelled: vertiginous treks and climbs; fishing in a Himalayan-fed river nearby… But, if you'd rather knock boots than hike in them, a secluded cabin by a riverbank can be booked for romantic overnight stays. After a day spent walking, settle in on the veranda gazing out at the mighty snow-capped peaks and toast the tranquility with mug of home-grown Darjeeling.