We had the opportunity to stay in several beautiful hotels on our trip through India, but none of them, not a single one, compared to the luxurious experience that was staying at Glenburn Tea Estate. A historic plantation hotel tucked into the Himalayas near Darjeeling, Glenburn Tea Estate is the ultimate relaxing getaway. The hotel is full of old world colonial charm, the service is top notch, the food is outstanding, and the scenery is nothing short of epic. Staying here is truly an experience of a lifetime.
Glenburn Tea Estate has been a working tea plantation since the mid-1800’s and is owned by a family nicknamed the chaiwalas, meaning ‘tea men’. Located on the expansive estate grounds is the Glenburn Tea Factory (which all guests have the opportunity to tour), a large bungalow built in the early 1900’s which now serves as the main bed and breakfast on the plantation, as well as a second bungalow, built more recently, which is used as secondary guest quarters just a short walk away from the main house.
When we arrived at Glenburn Tea Estate, the estate manager, Neilu, and her staff greeted us at the main bungalow with welcome drinks and a green silk scarf for each of us, even the guys. Besides being our main contact during our stay at Glenburn, Neilu also organized all of our excursions and meals (and joined us for many of them) and took extra care to ensure we always had everything we could need or want throughout our stay. In other words, she was like our holiday fairy godmother.
I could go on and on about the beauty of Glenburn for days, but since this is the sort of place you have to see to believe, I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking from here.
GLENBURN TEA ESTATE: BURRA BUNGALOW
The main bungalow at the estate is known as the Burra Bungalow. The Burra Bungalow’s four suites were fully booked when we arrived, but we were still given a tour of the main living areas of the house before we headed to the newly built bungalow where we’d be staying for five incredible nights. The Burra Bungalow is where everyone staying at the plantation gathers for meals and where guests can go throughout the day to borrow a book from the small library, relax on the verandah, or watch a movie on the only TV on the grounds.
The Burra Bungalow has been renovated since it was built, but much of the charm and elegance of the original house has been retained. Windows allow natural light into all of the guest rooms and eating areas. (Breakfast was always served on the veranda pictured above and dinner inside in the dining room.) Each room is exquisitely decorated, but still comfortable enough to relax in. It truly is like something straight out of the pages of a magazine.
GLENBURN TEA ESTATE: WATER LILY BUNGALOW
The Water Lily Bungalow, where we stayed, is newer than the main house, but has been built with reclaimed materials and decorated tastefully with antiques and beautiful fabrics that bring old world charm to new construction. Like the main house, the Water Lily Bungalow has four different guest quarters, two upstairs and two downstairs. All of the suites in the Water Lily Bungalow have large bay windows with a view of the mountains, comfy beds, and bathrooms featuring clawfoot tubs as well as separate rain showers. The main bungalow provides clawfoot tubs in the guest rooms, but no showers, which in my opinion is the single downside to staying at the Burra Bungalow.
Both bungalows, on a cloudless day, provide stunning views of the Himalayas, particularly Mount Kangchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world. The day we arrived was rainy and the mountains stayed cloud-covered except for a few breaks every now and then, but towards the end of our stay the monsoons took a break and we had a lovely view of the foothills of the Himalayas.
RUNG DUNG SUITE
In the Water Lily Bungalow, my parents stayed in a suite upstairs, while my sister and I had the two suites downstairs. The remaining suite upstairs stayed empty during our stay. Besides the four suites, there was also a large living area on both levels of the bungalow, a small kitchen, and a super-sized balcony on the second floor that overlooked the mountains. The suite Cory and I stayed in was called the Rung Dung Suite. Ordinarily, using the word dung to describe somewhere that I’d be sleeping would turn me off, but don’t let the unfortunate English translation of the word scare you – this suite is phenomenal, a Pinterest-worthy place, for sure!
Our suite was the largest I’ve ever seen, much less stayed in. And yet, even with such a large space, it still felt cozy. Our room was designed with a feminine floral theme featuring delicate, hand-embroidered linens, pastel prints on the walls, and simple yet luxurious touches throughout. In addition to the main room, our suite also had a separate section by the bay windows that made the perfect spot for Lexie to sleep. A curtain separated it from the main room giving us all a bit of privacy.
Literally the only thing I can complain about is the bugs. There is no air conditioning in either of the bungalows, so doors and windows are kept open all day. I loved getting all that fresh air inside in the daytime, but at night my fear of creepie crawlies was more than a little distressing. We always closed our windows at night, but anything could have crawled in during the daytime! Anyway, that’s just my personal hang-up. (FYI: In case you were wondering, the temperature at night, even in June, was always perfectly pleasant for sleeping, so no need for AC in that respect.)
AFTERNOON TEA AT GLENBURN TEA ESTATE
At Glenburn Tea Estate, three delicious meals are served every day with snacks available at all times. However, since dinner isn’t served until around 9pm, an afternoon tea is provided, if you want it, every day at 4pm in your bungalow. We weren’t around most days to enjoy this, but on our first day here we had made it to the estate in time for afternoon tea and had it served on the balcony off of my parents’ suite. It was just like a little kid’s tea party complete with biscuits, pound cake, and slightly more unusual – tempura fried tea leaves. Later, we would be served a traditional Tibetan dinner at the main house with the rest of the guests. And like dinner every night, it was the sort of meal you never forget.
Our afternoon tea was the first of many experiences here at Glenburn where we would feel almost overly pampered – waiters stood off to the side as we ate, making sure our tea cups were never less than halfway full and providing us almost instantly with anything we asked for. It took a little getting used to at first, being served so attentively, I mean. But by the end of our stay, I was basking in the thrill that is having someone to attend to your every need. One thing is for certain, if you stay at Glenburn Tea Estate you’ll be treated like royalty. Just don’t get too used to it – once you return home it’ll be a lot harder to convince someone to serve you biscuits and tea in bed every morning!
For a few ways to stay busy while you’re staying at Glenburn Tea Estate, check out these posts:
Rungeet River Hike In Darjeeling, India
A Picnic By The Rungeet River In Darjeeling
Visiting The Tibetan Refugee Center In Darjeeling
Upper And Lower Markets In Darjeeling, India
Visiting Glenburn School in Darjeeling, India
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