A heavenly retreat

Glenburn Tea Estate

Glenburn Tea Estate

Darjeeling
, West Bengal
, India

Glenburn offers stays in plantation bungalows overlooking rolling hills on one side and the Kangchenjunga on the other. The Glenburn experience is all about intimate dining, high teas with freshly baked cakes, picnics by the river, and an inexhaustible fresh mountain air. Completing this very English country ambience are fresh flowers everywhere, four poster beds, hand embroidered linen and wicker chairs.

An exceptional plantation stay near Darjeeling, Glenburn Tea Estate is a complete experience that encompasses landscapes, cuisine, culture and learning. Inspired by the vineyards of Europe, the Prakash’s opened their 1600 acre plantation estate in the beautiful Darjeeling hills to guests in 2002. A fully functional tea estate employing over a 1000 estate workers, Glenburn produces and retails quality Darjeeling tea, which is now a popular brand.

The lingering English cottage feel is everywhere, and integral to the ‘Glenburn Experience’. And mind you this is no promotional cliche;. It is a sentiment attested to by guests. The experience, programmed to extensive detail, begins when you are met at the Bagdogra airport or the arranged pick up point. A soft greeting, a cool towel and a refreshing drink set on a tray and you set off to Glenburn. From Bagdogra, Glenburn is just over 3 hours, in time for the gracious hosts to welcome you.

Our Rating: Luxury
Property Type: Plantation

Destination

Established by Arthur Campbell and Lieutenant Robert Napier, Darjeeling became the formal summer capital of the Bengal Presidency and the summer resort of the British Raj elite in the mid-19th century. Known worldwide for Darjeeling tea that has been given the Geographical Indication (GI) tag, it is also a popular destination to see the third highest mountain in the world, the Kangchenjunga.

Accommodation

Burra Bungalow and Water Lily Bungalow have themed suites, lounge, dining and several outdoor spaces to relax and enjoy the views. Burra Bungalow is the old plantation bungalow that came with the estate when the Prakash’s bought it in 2000. Verandas look out to rolling hills covered with verdant tea shrubs, dotted with quaint gaily coloured villages. Weather and luck permitting, it is just the spot for some of the most magnificent views of the Kanchenjunga – the predominant peak of the Himalayas seen from these parts. Potted plants brimming with seasonal flowers abound in and around the veranda, while trailing vines and fragrant honeysuckle cover walls and adorn the bungalow and the grounds. Four themed suites – the Planter’s suite, Rose suite, Symbong butterfly suite and Kanchenjunga suite, a formal lounge with an adjacent dining room are a part of the Burra Bungalow.

Just a level below Burra Bungalow, with no hindrance to the view, is the Water Lily Bungalow added about a couple of years ago. It straddles two floors and houses four more suites – the Camilla Suite (in honour of the tea plant), the Rung Dung Suite (Rung Dung is one of the rivers that flows within the Glenburn estate), the Singalila suite and the Rangeet (another river on the estate) suite. A shaded outdoor terrace leading to the bungalow with views of the tea gardens and Darjeeling city (that spreads out as a twinkling carpet at night) serves as a breakfast place. A private lounge, a small one-bed spa offering Glenburn tea therapies, another sunny terrace with views, and a couple of alfresco dining options ensure that the Water Lily bungalow is self-contained. It can be booked independently for a family or group of friends travelling together.

Glenburn’s suites are charming and superbly cosy with teak board flooring, antique furniture, hand embroidered linen, bathrooms with stand-alone tubs and modern mixers.

Dining

The service is unobtrusive and impeccable, meal times are a delight – a mix of local Nepali, essential Indian, and continental flavoured with fresh grown herbs from Glenburn’s organic garden. You are also treated to delectable fresh bakes – cookies, cakes, quiches served over tea or picnic lunches.

Experiences

Exploring the 1600 acre tea gardens, nature and bird walks, overnight in the log cabin, and tea tours are some of the exciting activities at Glenburn. Among the other options are: walks to the village Shikari Dura just below Glenburn, the log cabin by the Rangeet river, and the Majhitar bridge. You could also meet for drink at the lounge or the terrace in the evening where a hearty bonfire is set up. None of this is to deter you from doing your own thing have a private meal by yourself, curl up by the veranda and read a book, or request for a spa treatment. It can easily be organised to suit individual needs.

Picnic lunch on the banks of the river Rung Dung is followed by a visit to the factory to see the tea making process, from weighing to sorting. You end the tour with a ceremonious tea tasting to acquaint you with the subtle aromas, taste and colour of various varieties of tea grown on the estate.

Why we love this place

Everything at Glenburn is unhurried and timed to perfection. The attention to detail is impeccable and seen in all aspects of the stay.

About your host

Husna-Tara Prakash grew up with the best of both worlds; born and brought up in England, she spent eight years of her childhood at a boarding school in India. She returned to England at 16 to complete the International Baccalaureate Diploma at Oxford. During a gap-year backpacking expedition around the world, she met Anshuman Prakash, a fourth generation tea planter and six years later after a Natural Science and Post Graduate Certificate of Education degree at the University of Cambridge, she returned to India to marry him. After two years on a tea plantation in Kerala where tourism was growing, Anshuman and Husna-Tara conceived the idea of opening tea estates to visitors, a bit like vineyards do in other parts of the world. In the summer of 2002, Husna-Tara and Bronwyn Latif, a talented designer from Delhi, lovingly restored The Burra Bungalow at Glenburn. Five years later The Tatler Travel Guide included Glenburn in its list of The Best 101 Hotels of the World. A decade later she was able to extend The Glenburn Experience to Kolkata, unravelling the rich colonial history of the city to visitors through cultural and historical walks and tours.

Responsible/Sustainable Tourism

Glenburn Tea Estate is a member of the Rainforest Alliance and is a participant in the Ethical Tea Partnership, a non-profit organisation whose aim is to improve the sustainability of the tea sector and regulate the living and working conditions on tea estates. This boutique hotel has been the recipient of the Gold Award for Responsible Tourism in 2020; and have scored 100% in community relations, and wildlife protection by the Rainforest Alliance.

No Single Use Plastic: Safe filtered drinking water is available in glass bottles. There is minimal use of single use plastic in use and there is focussed attempt to further reduce its usage. Bamboo toiletries that include toothbrushes, pens, razors and straws are available in the bathrooms. Bottles are refilled and recycled and are working towards eco-friendly packaging options, having replaced plastic soap covering with a paper box.

Safe Garbage Disposal: As Glenburn is certified by Rainforest Alliance strict guidelines for waste management are followed. Vermiculture is practiced to create vermicompost and grow organic herbs on plots and many gardens around the hotel.

Waste is separated and recycled, sold, reused or composted as per the material. Waste metal and glass is taken off the property and sold. Bin liners are attached to the bin, and are reused them by transferring the rubbish and not the plastic bag to the larger refuse collection point. Bin liners are not used in guest rooms, instead the inside of the bin is washed and sanitized before the next guest arrives.

Water Conservation: Water recycling measures are in place. Watering holes are maintained to attract barking deer and local animals.

Energy Efficiency: The Glenburn Lodge and Campsite by the river uses lamps instead of electricity. The rooms at the Estate are bright and airy and the weather appropriate thus reducing the need for electrical appliances for cooling.

Nature and Biological Diversity Conservation: Conservation of the 1,600 acres of private forest, tea fields and two rivers that run through our estate is a priority. Sustainable methods of farming are used to protect the tea estate for future generations. The Estate is also working to preserve the Golden Mahseer in the rivers as a structured and official programme with long term goals on increasing numbers for this endangered species which are being threatened by local malpractices of dynamiting, electrocution and poisoning of the rivers.

At the Darjeeling Tea Estate the process to convert to organic production began a few years ago by slowly reducing use of chemical pesticides, as well as adopting organic farming techniques such as the use of vermiculture, organic manure (bought from their workers’ cattle), herbal pesticides, and biofungicides. Every year 2% of tea fields are uprooted and replanted. This helps rehabilitate the soil, and reduce the average age of tea bushes, thus optimizing the crop. The uprooted tea bushes are issued as free firewood by the workers, who use it as cooking fuel in their homes.

Local Community Engagement: Deeply engaged with the local community around, the staff are from the local villages and the tea plantation supports numerous families that live within the Estate. A team of teaching volunteers are funded by the Glenburn Workers’ Welfare Trust to help in the local government primary schools in the morning during school hours and run reading libraries in the villages. in the afternoons. The Glenburn Kalakendra (Music and Dance Academy) helps preserve the local Nepali traditions and supports private education of local children through guest donations.

Light Footprint Tourism: Glenburn locally sources produce; and has its own organic garden for ingredients such as fruit, vegetables, herbs and spices used in jams, preserves, marmalades and cuisine. The menus comprise of interesting local fare and traditional Indian dishes, to exotic South-East Asian delicacies, making full use of the produce.

Sensitive Destination Discovery: Hiking within the 1600 acres of Glenburn Tea Estate, minimizes the use of jeeps and cars within the estate.

Heritage Preservation: The original hotel bungalow at Glenburn Tea Estate is over 100 years old, and is being preserved with sensitive maintenance that preserves its heritage value.

Human Touch: Glenburn supports training and upskilling of its staff and community. Members of the tea estate receive subsidised rations and free medical treatment. The Glenburn Estate Foundation supports the private education of local children as well as provides support for the local government primary schools. Every member of the tea estate receives subsidised rations, free medical treatment, clothing and many other benefits. The hotel indirectly supports the local economy and the financial health of the tea estate and its local community along with their extended family members.

Our Recommendation

The Glenburn Experience is not quite complete without the Glenburn Tea Tour. A full day program, it begins with visits to the tea gardens where plucking is in progress as cheerful women carrying the essential wicker basket on their back chat, sing, giggle while plucking the'two and a bud' with practised ease. The accompanying guide from the estate ' men and women who have grown up in these parts tell you the story of the tea, its variety, plantation, pruning and the essential agronomy.

Can’t find a suitable itinerary that features a destination, experience or accommodation you fancy? All our group tours and holiday ideas can be personalised, or we can create a tailor made itinerary for you.

Our Accommodation Ratings

Opulent: Exceptional, unashamedly the best of sheer luxury. (£££££)

Luxury: Outstanding levels of 5* comfort, hospitality and facilities. (££££)

Premium: Excellent levels of comfort and hospitality and a wide range of facilities. (£££)

Mid-Range: Good levels of comfort and hospitality, with a reasonable range of facilities. (££)

Simple: Clean and simple, no frills. Often in areas of natural beauty or near wildlife reserves. (£)