Photos by Patrick Goh. Please click on photo for captions.
Cameron Highlands has long been a favourite getaway for harassed city folks. They are drawn to it for its cool, fresh air, abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, beautiful flowers and perfect weather for golf, among other things.
haven recently drove up to the highlands, taking in the sights and sounds and enjoying scones and tea at Cameron Highlands Resort and The Smokehouse Hotel, although scones are now offered at almost every tea shop, hotel and cafe in Cameron Highlands, with prices at some of these places touching RM30. Both the hotels we visited were among the first few to be built in Cameron Highlands and boast English-inspired architecture.
Cameron Highlands Resort, previously the Merlin Inn Resort, is beautiful and faces the only golf course up in the highlands. It oozes exclusivity and personal attention right from its entrance and features 56 spacious suites, a spa and a Jim Thompson boutique.
The name “Jim Thompson” is often heard in the Cameron Highlands.
He was an American who went missing one afternoon in 1967 while holidaying there. Thompson, who was based in Thailand, had established Thai Silk Co Ltd in 1948.
In fact, Cameron Highlands Resort offers guests a two-hour Jim Thompson walk every day where guests are taken along the same trail the man allegedly took when he went missing.
But we were there on a “tea” mission. Tea at the resort is served every day from 3pm to 6pm and we had the Jim Th ompson tea set while lounging in the Jim Thompson tea room with its elegant Jim Thompson textured fabric cushions and planter’s chairs. The atmosphere was perfect for a cuppa: the room was spacious, a cool breeze was blowing in through the windows and the seats comfortable.
Just as we had imagined, we were served a three-tiered set of scones, fresh salmon, cucumber and egg sandwiches as well as an assortment of cakes along with two pots of tea. The cream for the delicious scones was even imported from Devonshire, the UK. And yes, the special tea set came at a price: RM110++ for two people.
So, if you desire an exclusive tea experience in an elegant setting, you know where to go.
Our mission next took us to The Smokehouse Hotel. Established in 1937, Ye Olde Smokehouse Inn, as it was known then, was built in traditional Tudor-style with only six rooms, mainly for homesick British expatriates who, in those days, only returned home once in eight years. Today, the hotel offers 13 suites, with prices ranging from RM345 to RM690 per night. Perhaps one of the most famous landmarks in Cameron Highlands, The Smokehouse Hotel oozes old world charm, from its architecture to the antique furniture and decorative items displayed throughout the establishment.
The antique copper bed warmers on the walls and copper pots and pans on the shelves of the many sitting areas in the hotel transport you to another world. The step back into the past is further enhanced by room names like Squire (a honeymoon suite), Hazelwell and Gwenlaura.
We sampled The Smokehouse’s special tea set indoors as it was the early part of afternoon then and too sunny to sit in the garden. Nevertheless, after taking a leisurely walk in the well-manicured English garden, we could imagine what it would be like to sip tea and eat cake amongst the beautiful flowers and plants. The garden was lush and came complete with a swing. There was also an English phone booth (flown in from England) opposite the garden, we were told. Clearly, the owners went to great lengths to preserve the hotel’s originality, which is definitely its biggest charm.
The special set was just like the hotel — unpretentious and original.
There were two scones, fruitcake and a pot of tea for RM33++ per person. The scones were served with homemade strawberry preserve and cream, a perfect combination as it was not too sweet. If we had not taken some time to snap pictures, we could have eaten the scones hot and fresh from the oven. Hmmm, heavenly.
Although simple, The Smokehouse’s special tea set is worth stopping by the iconic landmark.
No doubt, there are other places that serve perfect scones and tea, but for now, we are content with our choices and look forward to returning for more.
This article first appeared in the October + November 2009 issue of haven, a bi-monthly ID and garden magazine published by The Edge
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