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Hidden gems in South India: The best plantation holidays to book right away

There are two things everyone wants from their holidays: cut the city noise and slow down the pace of life where good food is a bonus. On a plantation holiday, you get all this plus the best cup of coffee or tea you’ve ever tasted.

On this holiday, you follow meandering trails through the plantation, look out for rare and endemic birds, observe how life at a plantation unfolds, and enjoy the delicious local cuisine. Most plantations sell their estate’s single-origin coffee or hand-plucked tea, so you can bring home the aroma of your holiday as souvenirs. Sounds perfect, eh? Pack books you’ve been meaning to read and choose your slice of heaven from this list of plantation holidays in India.

Primrose Villas, Chikmagalur

The best plantation holidays in India

Chikmagalur is the birthplace of coffee in India. This is where Baba Budan first planted coffee seeds (that he had smuggled from Mecca) over 350 years ago, which eventually led to the flourishing coffee plantations in the country. Located on the 125-year-old Baganeheddal coffee estate, Primrose Villas is a beautiful small hotel. The villas are over 1,000 sq ft and built to offer stunning views of the Western Ghats from your private garden or the floor-to-ceiling windows. Their USP is fabulous food and service. From fluffy omelettes to local curries with akki roti to barbequed meats and Chinese favourites, every single thing is delicious. The service is attentive and personalised, and you can even ask for your favourite dishes (just don’t expect sushi).

Evolve Back, Coorg

The best plantation holidays in India. Evolve Back

The grand dame of plantation hotels in Coorg. This is one of the earliest luxury stay options in the district that opened 24 years ago as Orange County. Renovated extensively in 2017, it is now called Evolve Back, which is not just the name but also the resort’s new concept and theme. Live the life of the gentleman planter, lounging in an easy chair by the private pool in your 4,400 sq ft Heritage Pool Villa, as you sip on your own estate’s coffee. Eat Anglo-Indian or Kodava dishes like lamb chops or pandi curry, go on bird walks in the 300-acre coffee and pepper plantation, and heal sore muscles at the Vaidyasala spa. A highlight here is a newly opened coffee museum where you can also attend a coffee tasting session every evening.

Banasura, Wayanad

The best plantation holidays in India. Banasura Wayanand

It’s always time for a hot cuppa at Wayanad, especially so at Banasura Hill Resort, located at an altitude of 3,500 ft in the Western Ghats. Taking its name from the Banasura Hill that forms the resort’s backdrop, this eco-resort is a 35-acre farm in the middle of a forest. Coffee, tea, cashew, and pepper grow at the farm, and the surrounding forest is full of birdsong and waterfalls which you can explore on your nature walks. The biggest pull at this resort is its environment-friendly locally inspired architecture, which uses mud for walls, elephant grass for the thatched roofs, and bamboo for the lovely furniture. The romantic Log Huts are located within thick greenery and come with a private sit-out facing a pond. The best thing is that you come away knowing that you weren’t a burden on the precious biodiversity during your holiday.

Talayar Valley, Munnar

The best plantation holidays in India. Talayar Valley, Munnar

Old world and dreamy, the four suites at the Talayar Valley bungalow will charm anyone who has grown up on a healthy dose of English literature. An estate house decorated elaborately in florals and chintz, the Rose Suite here is a delightful space with large windows and muted creamy tones. The highlight of the hotel, however, is the tea-making workshop held at the mini tea factory within the complex where you can learn about how to make the right brew. They have a coffee plantation as well.

La Maison, Kotagiri

La Maison

A heritage tea estate bungalow from the late 19th century, it was renovated by Frenchman Benoit Siat from 2007 to 2009 when it opened as a homestay. The four rooms are decorated in French interior style and the bungalow is full of little sunny nooks for you to curl up with a book and tea. Located at the top of the Hadathorai Hill, La Maison’s biggest USP is the wonderful views of the tea gardens in the Nilgiris but the food – a mix of Indian, French, and European dishes.

All images: Courtesy hotels

Hidden gems in South India: The best plantation holidays to book right away

Apart from travel, Kalyani Prasher writes on food and culture, edits manuscripts and helps execute long-format events.

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