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High above the plains of southeast Sri Lanka, Thotalagala balances on the edge of an escarpment on the Dambatenne tea estate bought and planted by Sir Thomas Lipton, one of the towering figures in the history of Ceylon’s tea industry. Thotalagala is a beacon of beauty and a feat of restoration, a colonial tea planter’s bungalow returned to glory in one of the finest tea-growing regions in the world.
The house has seven suites, each dedicated to the memory of those who played an integral role in the development of the province - from James Taylor, credited with introducing tea plantation to British Ceylon, to John Duncan, who played an important role in the extension of the railway. No matter which suite, guests will enjoy the epitome of colonial luxury in spaces that serve as opulent tributes to the designs, hues, shapes, and concepts that typified colonial Sri Lanka.
There is no menu, but the butler proposes dishes to suit guests’ tastes, and you dine at a communal table.
Outside the elegant estate, are sweeping vistas across the Haputale hills and a wealth of adventures to discover. Drive through lush mountains to the jungles of Yala and Udawalawe. Visit the ancient capital of Kandy or wildlife parks and beaches nearby. Find peace in a Benedictine monastery or gain exclusive access to the Dambatenne factory, where Lipton’s Tea was founded and sold its first pound of tea. Enjoy high tea at Lipton’s bungalow, served by your butler for your stay. Step back in time to the tea days of the colonial era, immersed in elegance, comfort, and luxury.
Location & Getting There
Thotalagala lies in the heart of the Uva Province, high above the plains of southeast Sri Lanka, on the edge of the Haputale Escarpment on a tea estate nearly 150 years old. Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport is two and a half hours by car.
The seven suites of Thotalagala are the epitome of colonial luxury. Each room is dedicated to a historical figure who played an integral role in the development of the Uva Province.
There is James Taylor, whose floral tribute honors the man credited with introducing tea plantation to British Ceylon. John Duncan features a collection of images from rail travel, celebrating Duncan’s role in the extension of the railway. Sir Thomas Lipton takes its inspiration from the merchant and yachtsman. And the George Pilkington pays homage to an intrepid young man who found himself captured by Ceylon’s lush beauty. Together with the Rev. Walter Senior, Major Rogers, and Sam Popham, these form curated spaces outfitted in the finest materials and finishes, providing comfort and serenity to guests.
When you find yourself in the mood to venture out and explore, Haputale and its surrounding areas have an array of activities to offer that run the gamut from historical interest to phenomenal natural beauty. Take a factory tour at the site where Lipton’s Tea was founded and sold its first pound of tea. Learn the intricate processes involved in the fermentation, rolling, drying, cutting, sieving, and grading of these fine leaves, and indulge in a traditional afternoon tea tasting experience. Hike to the top of the Poonagala hill and take in sweeping views of lakes and mountain ranges all the way to the Hambanthota harbor on the southern coast. Stroll through the English gardens of a Benedictine monastery. Spot leopard on a mystical plateau over 2000m high. Activities are thoughtfully curated, designed to delight both your sense of adventure and your taste for luxury at once.
Thotalagala welcomes guests over 3 years of age. Babysitting services are available upon request.
Located near Dambatenne in Sri Lanka, one of the only estates in the world where Sir Thomas Lipton planted himself, the term 'Ceylon Tea' was coined here. This bungalow boasts an infinity pool that gives you - no exaggeration - one of the best views in the world. However, if it's views you’re after, wake up around 5 AM and head towards Lipton’s seat for sunrise. You may be lucky to see Uda Walave National Park at a distance on a clear day.
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