Six of the best: Yangon colonial hotels

FIONA CARRUTHERS
Last updated 13:22 30/01/2014
GOVERNOR'S RESIDENCE

JEWEL OF THE ORIENT: Governor's Residence has 48 suites, lotus ponds, a fan-shaped swimming pool, banyan trees, foreign diplomats on tap, and whirring ceiling fans.

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Take a look at six of the best classic hotels to be found in Myanmar's largest city.

GOVERNOR'S RESIDENCE

Built in the 1920s, this beauty features the grandest sweeping staircase, the shiniest parquetry; the largest king-sized beds, alarmingly decadent thread counts - and surely the highest ratio of rattan furnishings and potted palms per square inch of any Yangon hotel.

Operated by Orient Express, Governor's Residence has 48 suites, lotus ponds, a fan-shaped swimming pool, banyan trees, foreign diplomats on tap, and whirring ceiling fans. Indulge in your own Somerset Maugham fantasy fuelled by a Pegu Club Cocktail.

Orient Express's other jewels are river cruiser Road to Mandalay and its new sister ship, Orcaella. Cabins on a seven-night cruise start at US$5140 ($6210) a person. Rooms at the Governor's Residence from US$261 ($315) a night.

See orient-express.com.

THE SAVOY

A four-star boutique gem with the other-worldly feel of staying in your imaginary well-heeled British aunt's creaky colonial mansion in a fashionable district on the edge of town. With 24 deluxe rooms (45 square metres from US$236/NZ$285 a night) and six suites (85 square metres from US$330/NZ$399), the vibe is cosy.

Rooms are clean and comfortable with teak furniture - and many overlook the pool and terrace dining area. Enjoy watching the smart Euro set loll around, sipping (excellent) espressos, whiling away humid days with a book under the palms. Other rooms look out over the nearby "twinkling wonder" - the Shwedagon Pagoda. Breakfast is a treat with amazing fresh fruit juices.

See savoy-myanmar.com.

THE STRAND

The imposing Strand has played host to a who's who of 19th and 20th century literary stars, including Rudyard Kipling, George Orwell, Noel Coward and Somerset Maugham. In 1911, it was branded "the finest hostelry East of Suez" by John Murray in one of his many handbooks for travellers.

Built by the Sarkies Brothers (of Singapore's Raffles Hotel fame), it is the full colonial catastrophe with deep soak bathtubs, twin vanities, fresh cut flowers and 24-hour butler service. Take away the iPhones and it could still be 1901 - the year this three-storey Victorian grand dame was built.

There's no pool and not much garden but the Strand is brilliantly located near the Yangon River, the commercial and diplomatic hubs. This history-rich beauty has 32 suites, starting with superior suites from about $406 a night.

See hotelthestrand.com.

KANDAWGYI PALACE HOTEL

Does it get any more dapper than the Yangon Rowing Club, chaps? The Kandawgyi Palace Hotel opened in 1934 as just this.

Located on the shores of the artificially made Kandawgyi Lake (formerly the Royal Lake), rooms here start at US$245 ($296). Its sweet spot is the magnificent views of the floating Royal Palace and the Shwedagon Pagoda.

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A boardwalk spans the lake, and access (for a small fee) is through the park just minutes away. A word of warning, this hotel can be noisy in terms of corridor conversation; shutting of doors. Ask for a room with a lake view at the end of a corridor.

See kandawgyipalace-hotel.com.

TRADERS HOTEL

One of the most popular places to stay in Yangon, Traders Hotel - located near the main railway station and that shoppers' mecca, Scott Markets (also known as Bogyoke Aung San Market) - is still the place to stay when in Yangon on business.

Like the Chatrium Hotel, we're talking more "colonial feel" in the bustling lobby of Traders Hotel. Part of the Shangri La chain, with more than 300 rooms starting from US$291 ($351.6) a night, Traders is clean, efficient and absolutely everyone in town knows this landmark hotel.

Even if you don't stay, go sit in the lobby and order tea as you sit and admire your (quite possibly fake) Burmese ruby just purchased for a song at Scott Market.

See shangri-la.com.

CHATRIUM HOTEL ROYAL LAKE

Designed as an "urban resort", the colonial-style Chatrium Hotel caters to business and leisure travellers and is a popular conference spot.

Comprising 303 spacious rooms (including 37 suites), prices start at about US$185 ($223.5) - less for senior citizens, who often score a discount. Until her release from house arrest in November 2010, Aung San Suu Kyi's crumbling old mansion on upmarket University Avenue was only visible to the world from across Lake Inya.

Many people would look for her lakeside house from waterside hotels such as Chatrium.

See chatrium.com.

The writer travelled to Myanmar as a guest of Orient Express and Singapore Airlines.

- FFX Aus

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