The Enchanting Tea Country – Ceylon Tea Trails 3 Hospitality

This is the third and final instalment of my trip memoirs to the Sri Lankan Tea Country and staying at Ceylon Tea Trails . The other two blog articles can be read here and here, where I talked about winning the Sri Lanka in Style prize, the wonderful Castlereagh Lake area (near Hatton) where we stayed and the breathtaking scenery and flora. Now I’ll be waxing lyrical about the beautiful Castlereagh Bungalow property, the exceptional hospitality and how well we were looked after from the minute we arrived to the second we (sadly) departed.

We were just time for that great tradition “high tea” on our arrival and that certainly did not disappoint…with delicately scented Orange Pekoe tea (adding milk is a crime! We were however only to find this out on our second day!), chocolate cake slices, mini lemon meringue pies, mini carrot cake pieces, delectable home-made scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam to mini cucumber, egg & cress and cheese salad sandwiches…we didn’t even have time to explore our home for the next 2 days before tucking in!

High tea at Ceylon Tea Trails

High tea at Ceylon Tea Trails

After being rejuvenated it was time to explore the bungalow.  Dating back around 90 years, the lodge, or bungalow, nestles in a leafy forest glen, with the appearance of a charming single-storey colonial house. It wasn’t grand, as that would look out-of-place; it was more quaint and cabin-chic; wooden panel floors, with cream walls, a green corrugated iron roof and many picture-frame windows, all wide-open, with a ‘country-chintz’ style of décor (as Luxury Explorer so brilliantly puts it).

From the main (road side) you enter a welcoming reception room which doubles as reading room with an open hearth.

Castereagh Bungalow Reception & Reading Room

Castereagh Bungalow Reception & Reading Room

Lovely antiques and decor in the Castlereagh Bungalow Reception room

Lovely antiques and decor in the Castlereagh Bungalow Reception room

The individual guestrooms are to the right and the sitting room and  dining rooms are to the left which both lead to the veranda which overlooks the pool which in turn looks out over Castlereagh Lake.

The sitting room is extremely homely and it is easy to spend a lot of time here reading your favourite book and drinking your preferred pre-dinner (or post-dinner 😉 ) drink…

Castlereagh Bungalow Sitting Room

Castlereagh Bungalow Sitting Room

Serve yourself to drinks; a pre-dinner aperitif or a brandy to heat you up over a rainy night playing boardgames in front of the fire

Serve yourself to drinks; a pre-dinner aperitif or a brandy to heat you up over a rainy night playing boardgames in front of the fire

The Castlereagh Bungalow has 5 guestrooms and although we were in the smallest (The Tate Room) it was still enormous. The bedroom boasts a four poster bed  which would accommodate two of the tallest North Europeans with ease. The bed had so many pillows and cushions I lost count before falling asleep. There is also a huge wardrobe and a large writing desk overlooking the lake, should you feel inclined to do any work at all and a comfortable chaise longue to generally do very little in.

The best bit, however, was the bathroom…

Tate Room bathroom - Castlereagh Bungalow

Tate Room bathroom – Castlereagh Bungalow

It’s the little touches that makes this place so special…

Complimentary Tea Toiletries

Complimentary Tea Toiletries

Once cleaned up after the dusty train journey it was time for drinks and dinner. Both were served on the veranda because of the warm weather! It was still cooler than down in the Low South West and much more bearable. We did not need jackets nor the fires lighting (which I privately thought was a shame!) .

Private table set at dusk

Private table set at dusk

Just what the doctor ordered

Just what the doctor ordered

Although fairly informal (thankfully with no dress code), the first dinner was a grand five course affair:

Cream of Asparagus soup with truffle oil (with a selection of home-made brown and white crusty rolls)

Apricot and rocket salad with mandarin pieces and a blue cheese and walnut dressing (this was beautiful!!)

Second course

Second course

Then we had deep-fried cheese (I think Brie or Camembert) with a berry coulis/compot type-thing…excuse me for not remembering exactly – I was enjoying myself too much!!

For mains – a fillet steak (mine medium rare) in a red wine & taragon jus with roasted vegetables and potatoes dauphinoise…BY FAR the best steak  I have ever  had in Sri Lanka!

Main course

Main course

All I remember  is that the desert was more-ish (something with chocolate, fruits & tea!) – I was so full by this point I couldn’t eat another thing. Talk about being spoilt. There’s me looking like the cat who got the cream:

Happy and stuffed

Happy and stuffed

With such an enormous amount of food in me and exhausted from travelling there was nothing more to do than retire to the most comfortable bed complete with Egyptian cotton sheets for the night (ah bliss).

Breakfast the next day was equally scrumptious. Gallons of tea followed by a fruit plate so well-presented  you almost felt ashamed to eat it.

Tropical Fruit Plate

Tropical Fruit Plate

This was followed by a full English, which I could not finish (I would like to see somebody try!!):

  • 2 eggs cooked how you like
  • 3 rashers of bacon (cooked crispy…they ask)
  • 1 huge herby sausage (I gave half mine away…it was massive!)
  • 1 crispy potato cake with herbs

AND all this came with croissants, rolls (white, brown, crusty & soft and some sweet pastries)

Obviously if you can only stomach cornflakes in the morning they will cater for you too 😉

You need some exercise after that  so we went for a long walk only to find that on our return they had laid out the tables for lunch (!!)

Lunch table

Lunch table

With a glass of crisp Pinot Grigio on offer and three courses:

  • Cauliflower and cheese cream soup
  • Grilled garlic jumbo prawns with a salad of iceberg, rocket and tri-coloured peppers
  • Apple crumble with home-made vanilla ice cream

Who was I to refuse??

I am quite embarrassed to admit that our high tea on that day was served at 5.30pm instead of 4pm and our Sri Lankan Rice & Curry at 9.30pm instead of 8.30pm 😀

More food??

More food??

All this was accommodated with a smile – hospitality at it’s best! I WILL return.

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12 Comments

Filed under Salad recipes, Sandwiches, Sri Lankan life

12 responses to “The Enchanting Tea Country – Ceylon Tea Trails 3 Hospitality

  1. Pingback: The Enchanting Tea Country – Ceylon Tea Trails 2 | ankie renique's blog

  2. Pingback: The Enchanting Tea Country – Ceylon Tea Trails 1 | ankie renique's blog

  3. Nice post. Its actually the Castlereagh reservoir, not a lake. Its part of a Laxapana hydroelectric power system, the dam creates the resrvoir.

    http://www.ceb.lk/sub/knowledge/hydropower.html

    • Hi Jack – Thanks for reading my blog. Yep you are right…and thanks for pointing out this fact. The locals do refer to it as the lake though, as does Google Maps…do you know when it was first built? We asked and got conflicting answers! Also one tuk tuk driver said it was built by the Japanese and another by Germany, so would love to hear the exact story. Ankie

  4. I think it was one of the older projects. Did some saerching on the web, see if you can follow the link at the bottom; it seems that it was initiated in 1924. The plant was commissioned in stages from 1950-1958. Details of that are here:

    http://globalenergyobservatory.org/geoid/40511

    An interesting history here:
    http://infolanka.asia/science-and-environment/energy/wimalasurendra-stone-age-energy-pundits-and-the-future-of-solar-power

    http://sundaytimes.lk/080817/FunDay/fundaytimes_2.html

    • That is interesting – thanks!!

      • My father was the Superintendent of Lethenty, across the water. Our bungalow was high on the hill to the left of Castlereagh, with a long verandah tight across the length of the house, facing the lake and with lots of gables. I don;t know if you remember seeing it. My family moved into the district just before the completion of the project and I was born in 1958, so it was finished by then. My mother remembers the elephants doing the heavy lifting being brought up to the house, and being made to gently “ask” her if they could have one of her trees for lunch. Not to throw a wobbler, but In my day the lake/reservoir was always known as the Castlereagh Dam. We had family friends who ran Castlereagh estate and visited the bungalow often. Tried to learn to swim in the pool but never succeeded. But I must say from your wonderful pictures that the bungalow has been transformed almost out of recognition. It never looked as good as it does now. The estate was then owned by a miserly proprietary planter, who would not allow any money to be spent on “luxuries”, so I am afraid the house and decor suffered.

      • Hi James,

        THANK YOU for your lovely comment and great insight into the past of the gorgeous Castlereagh Bungalow. I think I may have seen your old bungalow as I remember a long verandah and bungalow just across from us. There is so much much fascinating history the in tea country (not to mention the rest of Sri Lanka) so if you can remember anything else I would love to hear it and would happily pen another blog post or you could guest write one if you prefer. Are you still in Sri Lanka now? Thanks again.

  5. Nice post & nice pictures, thank you! I am planning a holiday to Sir Lanka, probably will stay 3 nights at Ceylon Tea Trails, all the Bungalow / Suite are lovely, very difficult to make the decision.

    • Thanks for reading! All the bungalows are equally gorgeous – unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to explore much but I have heard they are all beautiful. We were in the smallest room at the Castlereagh bungalow which was still enormous and lovely with great lake views. Summerville is currently closed for refurbishment. Good luck with your decision! 🙂

  6. zarook shah

    very nice post and fine details.I have heard so much about the property and always wanted to go there.Reading your blog wants me to go more.

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