Wedding Anniversary Holiday

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“We visited Glenburn 4th – 10th March 2018 for part of our Ruby Wedding Anniversary holiday. You are picked from Bagdogra Airport by a private car for the 4 hour trip to Glenburn (and have a picnic at a scenic point to break the journey). The last 40 mins or so is down a very steep and rough track which is the only way into Glenburn. The hotel is run by Graeme, Jennifer, Angela and Ranjan and on arrival we were personally greeted by Graeme & Angela with scarves (Indian tradition) & drinks and shown to our room – The Simbong Butterfly Room. This is the smallest room but was more than adequate for us and the website pictures accurately reflect the room. There was limited hanging space for clothes but you can easily use the bathroom (bath & separate shower) for extra space. The room and bathroom were immaculately clean and thoroughly serviced everyday.
The best way to describe the rooms and the bungalows is that they reflect how I think a colonial tea plantation would be. That is to say they are not precise, uniform, identical (as say a Dubai hotel would be) but are well appointed, a little eclectic and homely.
The tradition at Glenburn is for guests to meet at 7pm for drinks on the verandah and the culture is that new guests are welcomed by existing guests as well as by Graeme & Jennifer. In turn, you automatically tend to welcome new guests yourself. There is a collective dinner for all guests whereby you sit at an allocated seat (with your partner) which is moved every night so as you can mix with all the other guests.
The food is excellent and varied every night. Most drinks, wine, beer & spirits are available (but are at a reasonable extra cost). Breakfast and lunch are served on terraces with stunning views of the hills. At any time during the day you can ask for drinks and snacks / cakes which are included in the tariff.
The views are breathtaking although in early March there is a lot of mist which blocks some of the vistas. However, an early morning knock on the door from Graeme revealed a stunning view of the Himalayas – and Kanchenjunga (3rd highest mountain in the world).
The are many activities to do. We visited the tea factory and Ranjan explained the end to end process, the different types of Darjeeling tea (all from the same bushes!) and invited us to a tea tasting session with ~ 8 or 9 teas. Subsequently we watched the leaves being picked at close hand and heard how the plants are pruned and maintained.
We undertook 2 hikes, firstly to the Glenburn campsite and subsequently the suspension bridge to Sikkim and then a second through the plantation to the River Rung Dung. Both walks are down hill but you can walk part of the way, get a lift the rest of the way and a lift back if you wish – but the jeep tracks are really, really rough so it might actually be easier to walk back (uphill!). On all the walks you are accompanied by a guide and if you elect to walk back, the guide will stay with you. For both walks, there is a barbeque lunch at the river which is amazing. Should you just wish to wander around the plantation yourself then you are free to do so – but it is really hilly (I did try going for a run but it ended up as running down slopes and walking back up).
One morning we visited the one of the 3 local primary schools in time for assembly. Glenburn supports the schools who are very pleased to have visitors and it is a really moving experience to see the little ones and the efforts being made around education in a poor community. If you thought your primary school had poor facilities, have a look at these.
For the last 2 days, we just stayed around the bungalows as the atmosphere is calm and relaxing, the views are fantastic and you can just chill or read a book. My wife rates the full body massage as the best she has had. There is also a small shop selling teas, gifts and clothes.
Whilst everyone normally has dinner together, as it was our Wedding Anniversary we asked if we could dine separately one night and Jennifer kindly laid on a private candlelit table for us and added a complimentary bottle of bubbly and anniversary cake.
Overall, the service is attentive and friendly without being intrusive. Everyone from the management, guides, waiters, cleaners etc all act as one team. This is a relaxing, retreat style hotel with a few activities so anyone looking for a pool, lots of nightlife, music etc will be disappointed. There are 2 or 3 flights of steps to the lower bungalow so people with mobility issues need to consider this or ask to stay at the main bungalow, but breakfasts, lunches can be provided at the main bungalow if requested.
You are driven back to Bagdogra airport (with a packed lunch) to finish the stay (and the track / road is marginally better going back uphill!).
If I were to say anything less than positive, it is probably Graeme (Aussie) reminding me on more than one occasion that the Ashes are back in Oz – but that reflects the homely atmosphere of Glenburn and the friendly banter is a part of it.”