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Situated between Kalimpong and Darjeeling – but nearer to the latter – Glenburn sits remote among the tea bushes. A slow and bumpy track leads down to the estate. Upon arrival “silver tips” tea is served in porcelain by staff whose overarching ambition is for guests to leave happy. Each room has been exquisitely designed in its own unique style. Glenburn is worth every jolt in the road.
FLASH POINT: Stay at Glenburn for Christmas. Each guest receives their own present and the fire roars from the grate long into the night.
Husna-Tara met her husband when backpacking around India. In 1998 she married into his tea-planting family and in 2001 first set her eyes on Glenburn Tea Estate. Manicured tea gardens, dense forest, an emerald green river and the peak of Kanchenjunga in the distance.
“When we saw Glenburn, we thought, ‘Oh my gosh, this is like a piece of heaven!’”
Along with interior designer Bronwyn Latif, Husna-Tara set to work renovating the tea planter’s bungalow that was falling apart. The idea was that if it worked as a hotel, great. If it didn’t work, at least the family would have a lovely home.
Turns out, the hotel worked.
Each room at Glenburn is unique. Each room has its own thematic purity. In the Rose Suite, depictions of the eponymous flower creep over the furniture, the paintings and the bed sheets. There is an adjoining chamber for a third person and a connecting “sit-out” with view over the garden. The Planters’ Suite boasts a turn of the century four poster bed made of Spanish mahogany. Camellia is the only twin room, with views out over the Sikkim Hills. The Rangeet, Rung Dung, Singalila and other rooms are similarly exquisite in their idiosyncrasy. All feature hand-embroidered bed linens, fresh flowers, bathrooms with running hot and cold water with complimentary Darjeeling Green Tea toiletries. There are overhead fans and the beds are fitted with electrical bed warmers.
The gastronomy at Glenburn comprises a range of cuisines, from traditional Indian to exotic South-East Asian. Glenburn family recipes include Tea-Leaf Pakoras and Burmese Khow Suey. As much as possible, ingredients are sourced from the estate. They bake their own bread and make their own marmalade. Glenburn tea, South Indian coffee, a range of teas, nimboo pani lemonade and freshly-squeezed juice are available at any time. With a bit of notice, they can even whip up some ice cream. Breakfast is served at your convenience between 7 and 11 AM. Dinner is a usual a sit-down meal in the candle-lit intimacy of The Dining Room, along with your hosts and any other guests in residence.
The Glenburn Welfare Programme strives to bring up the standard of the three government-run schools on the Estate. Under the Welfare Programme is a team of teaching volunteers who are funded by the Glenburn Workers’ Welfare Trust. These volunteers help in the local government primary schools in the morning and run libraries in the villages in the afternoon. Glenburn has also been active in raising-awareness about the endangered golden mahseer. The fish, immortalised by Rudyard Kipling, has long been regarded as a prize catch for anglers. The Glenburn Camp has hosted catch-and-release events with “lively debates” and workshops as part of their drive to protect the mahseer.
Perhaps what we love most about Glenburn Tea Estate is the personalised care that each guest receives. Andrew and Rudolph are your hosts at Glenburn and their sole responsibility is to pamper. Keeping guests happy with a steady flow of good food and fine tea, and catering to any other whim or fancy. Christmas celebrations include a Christmas tree and a grand celebration on the 25th with presents for everyone under the tree. There is also carol singing by the local school children and a four-course, sit-down dinner with complimentary wine. Glenburn are ready to go the extra-mile for their guests, even to the extent of embroidering initials onto pillowcases for honeymooners – which they are then presented with on departure.
In the heart of Kolkata, this is an escape from the city … and a love-letter to it.
Set amongst the pine trees since 1903, with a bold “Green Vision” for the future.