Live the life of a modern-day tea planter at Camellia Hills, a luxurious five-bedroom boutique bungalow hotel near Dickoya, in Sri Lanka’s crisp hill country.
From its verdant valley-side perch, views of the mirror-still Castlereagh Reservoir and surrounding tea-wrapped hills are spectacular – drink in the panoramas while relaxing on cushy sofas warmed by an open fire, dining in the semi open air or swimming lengths of the refreshing garden pool.
The Castlereagh Valley, near Dickoya, is a country standout for its absorbing scenery – an arresting panorama of rich greens and blues. At its heart is a mirror-still reservoir dotted with islands that floods seven kilometers of a long, deep valley.
Flanking Castlereagh Reservoir on either side are steeply rising hills sporting acres of neatly manicured tea estates topped by thick manes of trees. Whether the sun is shining in a cornflower blue sky or the clouds are descending into the mountains en masse, the views from the bungalow are always dramatic.
The closest town to Camellia Hills is Dickoya, a bustling settlement standing at an elevation of 1,200-metres, notable for its colonial-era clubhouse, the Castlereagh and Dickoya Cricket Club (formerly the Daramulla Club) whose ageing timber-panelled interiors take you back in time.
Enroute to Dickoya is Warleigh Church, a bijou British-era lake-facing chapel whose graveyard is littered with tombstones engraved with European names – testament to the region’s colonial history where European planters crossed oceans to carve out a future in Ceylon Tea.
One of the best ways to travel into and within the Hill Country is by train, and the closest railway station to Camellia Hills is Hatton, a busy provincial town with a lively local market. Alternatively, swoop in on a seaplane, landing in Castlereagh Reservoir, and transported up to the bungalow along the tea lined estate roads.
There are just five very individual timber-floored bedrooms at Camellia Hills. Each gazes through picture windows over the Castlereagh Reservoir or the lush surrounding hills. Bedrooms are all distinct in design and layout yet equally comfortable and luxurious.
The cosiest are our two Camellia Bedrooms while the three roomier Lakeview Bedrooms boast far-reaching views of the entire Castlereagh Valley from private furnished garden terraces.
Bedrooms are usually booked individually, however our boutique bungalow is small enough for groups and families requiring privacy to take the whole house for themselves on an exclusive basis too.
Our two stylishly-furnished Camellia Bedrooms are unique in layout and position, yet promise an indulgent stay in the hills. Both bedrooms are equipped with wardrobes, armchairs, desks and ceiling fans, and have private white-tiled ensuite bathrooms with strong showers.
Norton, to the front of the bungalow, is a Castlereagh Lake-facing room with king-sized four-poster bed, sitting area and ensuite bathroom. Twin-bedded Maskeliya gazes south easterly across a lush jungly hillside, and is an elongated room with a private garden-view terrace.
Our three Lakeview Bedrooms are contemporary in arrangement, and are luxuriously furnished with king-sized beds for indulgently gazing over the Castlereagh Valley and lush tea hills.
Each bedroom is equipped with wardrobes, armchairs, desks, and ensuite bathroom with a powerful shower and twin wash basins. Two of the three bedrooms also come equipped with a bathtub. Lakeview Bedrooms also directly access the garden from their private furnished terrace.
Dickoya is a big family-friendly bedroom bathed in light. It’s ensuite bathroom, with bathtub, connects it with a second single room with pull-out trundle bed, making it suitable for families of four.
Osbourne is unique for its twin aspect mountainside and lake-facing views, and has a private decked terrace and big ensuite bathroom with rain shower and bathtub.
Warleigh, on the lower ground floor, opens directly onto the lawn through three sets of French windows. It’s roomy and secluded, and a favourite with honeymooners.
The Dining Room
Camellia Hills is your home-from-home in Sri Lanka’s emerald hills. Butlers are poised to pamper guests and dining here is relaxed, personalised and atmospheric.
The views take centre stage too; sip sundowners beside the crackling fireplace in the convivial high-ceilinged sitting room while gazing at the far-reaching valley views or feast on delicious contemporary dishes from a curated Sri Lankan and international menu from a breezy lake-facing terrace.
Guests will dine on an All-Inclusive basis which includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, complimentary soft drinks, beer and house wine, alcohol with mixers and tea or coffee throughout the day.
Our curated Castlereagh and Hatton experiences explore the diverse nuances of this culture-rich region characterised by Sri Lanka’s historic tea industry.
The bungalow sits amidst acres of pea-green tea bushes, and a drive through them, along the valley’s edge, to a colonial-era tea factory where you can observe the age-old art of tea production, is included in your stay.
The fresh mountain climate makes venturing outside a breeze. Trails through neighbouring tea estates, patches of dense forest and to gushing waterfalls promise striking panoramas at every turn, and picnics can be packed up for enjoying in many of these drama-fuelled locations.
The islands on the reservoir proffer further picnic potential, and you can island hop by boat, or voyage along the banks of the reservoir to colonial-era Warleigh Church.