Nuwara Eliya, the country’s principal hill station, lies at the heart of an extensive and commercially important tea-growing region – an area of verdant valleys and slopes contoured by the mosaic-like swirls of countless plantations. The best way to reach it is aboard the charming highland railway from Kandy, which still feels much like a Raj-era toy train – craning out of the observation car’s windows, you might well decide the tracks were laid back in the 1880s as much for pleasure as for practicality.
The legacy of British times endures here in numerous ways. Horse racing, flower shows and hotels with names like The Grand, Windsor and St Andrew’s are still going strong. Nuwara Eliya is the sort of place you almost feel obliged to take lashings of marmalade at breakfast, cake at tea time and hearty puddings smothered in custard for supper. Visitors who venture up here straight from sea level, however, should come prepared for cooler weather. In January and February, you’ll need a couple of extra blankets on the bed at night, and maybe even a hot water bottle!