May 28 – 31, 2017
Room Rate: $162 USD (includes breakfast)
After a few days of travel, we had made it to Bagan! The temples and pagodas of this ancient capital had long been on my bucket list, and finally, we had made it! Our first -checking into the Aureum Palace Bagan hotel.
Aureum Palace Bagan
Bar and Restaurant On-Property: Yes
Room Rate Range: $150-$350 USD
We arrived at the hotel at around 6pm. The property was a quick 10-15 minute drive from the airport. As we drove in through the long roads that lead to the property, we passed a number of small temples and stupas – if we weren’t sure we were in Bagan before, we certainly were now. By the time we pulled up to the main building, we were taken away by the way the whole property looked. The main building was designed in style that was complimentary to the nearby temples – it didn’t seem out of place. We were welcomed at the entrance by one of the hotel staff, who helped us with our bags, but tucked them to the side and instructed us to head up the stairs to the lobby.
As we approached the front desk, one of the associates greeted us and invited us to sit while they prepared our paperwork for check in. As we waited, we were brought welcome drinks – a sweet tea – to sip on.
We were initially assigned a room with two bed, but requested a room with a king sized bed, and they were able to switch us after a few minutes. Once we finished our paperwork, we were provided our room key (and i do mean key! Not a key card), as well as two passes to visit the tower on-site which offers great views of Bagan. We headed back to the entrance of the lobby building, where a golf cart was waiting for us.
Our golf cart driver and bellhop escorted us to show us to our room, which was located in the middle of the building. The hallway was in the backside of the building, the rooms lined up on one side, and the hallway was open to the great outdoors on the other side. During our stay, we encountered a few bugs and lizards in our walk to our room.
The room was notably dim when we walked in – there wasn’t a ton of natural light and there weren’t too many lights in the room. The room itself was large, separated into two areas – the bedroom area and the living area – by two steps.
We entered the room through a short entryway, where there was a small bench, a shoe horn, and two slippers for our use in the room. The bench doubled as a luggage rack while we were there. The entryway also housed the closet, which held a couple robes.
The bed was moderately comfortable, although I have a bad back and had a bit of trouble sleeping on it. The pillows were a perfect mix of soft but firm.
While the bathroom had a regular door, it also featured a sliding door (window?) which allowed you to open up the space to the bedroom. While we never needed it per se, it was nice to be able to open up the doors in the day to allow the shower area to dry up. The bathroom didn’t feel so stuffy as a result (though I think its intended purpose was much… less practical?).
The bathroom was split up into three areas, the main room, which had the sink and the tub, the toilet room, and the shower room. The sink area had a couple bottles of water (recommended that you brush your teeth using these rather than using tap water), and vanity items – a comb, tooth brushes, cotton buds, shower cap, and body lotion.
The tub was large and modern looking – it looked upgraded compared to the look of the room. A great touch to the room, for those who’ll spend more time in Bagan – surely a treat after a long day of temple-hopping.
The toilet room came with a piece of paper wrapped around the toilet lid to note they had cleaned the toilet before we arrived. The room came equipped with a handheld bidet. The door was a wooden and similar to an airplane lavatory door – you pushed it and it would fold into itself. It didn’t feel particularly sturdy, but the separation of the toilet from the rest of the bathroom meant that two people could easily use it. Big plus.
The shower room was fairly large – large enough to have a towel rack in the room that didn’t get drenched from the shower. Speaking of the shower, it had both a rainforest head and a handheld shower head – my favorite combination for hotel showers. The water pressure for the rainforest shower was not particularly good (it rarely ever is) but the handheld was much better. The shower room came stocked with the standard shampoo, conditioner, body gel, and hand soap.
The living room area had a desk (with a brief guide on tourism 101 in Myanmar) and a small minibar area. There were two complimentary bottles of water, which was refreshed every day by housekeeping. While Myanmar is not particularly expensive, the price of the minibar items were more expensive than I expected – $4 for sodas and beer in cans.
The sitting area had a few wooden seats – not cushy by western standards, but matched the overall aesthetic of the hotel. The large carved piece of artwork on the wall also doubled as a (dim) room light, as it lit up from behind. The piece seemed off center in relation to the seats – it appeared as though it was centered to something that had previously been there but hadn’t been moved since.
Since we were on the first floor, our room had a small enclosed outdoor lounge area that overlooked the pool.
As we began to unpack, there was a knock on the door. It was housekeeping with bug spray! They came back every day in the late afternoon/early evening to offer to spray the room down and ask if we needed help with anything in the room.
Hotel Appearance & Amenities
The look and feel of the hotel was very much in line with that of Bagan – lots of wood and stone and other natural material. The property had two main pools – one in the area where our room was, and one in the main building – which had stunning views of the temples. The main room had some use while we were there, but the pool by our room seemed fairly untouched during our stay.
But like I said, the pool in the main building was the real winner here. On a clear day, you could see a slew of temples on the horizon – including Ananda Temple and Dhammayangyi Temple. There were plenty of lounge chairs to (well) lounge around in, and a bar, which was unattended when I stopped by unfortunately.
The hotel had a few on-site conveniences, including a gift shop, a business center, and the ATM. The ATM in particular was the most useful thing – I hadn’t withdrawn enough cash (and there were plenty of cash-only establishments in Bagan) so I was a somewhat regular visitor to the ATM during our visit. Do note it has a fee to use (though my debit card reimburses all fees).
The property also had a spa on-site, though we didn’t have the time to indulge ourselves with a treatment.
The staff was very accommodating while we were there and prior to our arrival. Any request we had, they tended to with care and urgency. I emailed the concierge to request assistance with connecting with a tour guide and driver. They quoted us $50/day for the tour guide, which I thought was steep considering the tour guides charged $30 in Cambodia (when working with them directly, not when hiring them through a hotel). I found a tour guide on my own, who charged me $35/day – a far more average price.
Wifi was complimentary at the hotel. During our stay however, heavy rain and winds caused an internet outage at the property. Without a local simcard, we were out of luck and disconnected from the world wide web for almost two days. It’s at no fault of the hotel of course – they had little control over the internet.
Breakfast was included in our rate (this seemed to be a norm for Myanmar hotels since you can’t just pop outside and grab breakfast somewhere nearby). It was served at the restaurant in the main building, Xanadu, and was pretty fantastic considering we didn’t pay extra for it. There were plenty of choices – though mostly western, and not too many local items (though I’m sure this has been tried and tested in the past).
There was a selection of fruit juice, including watermelon (my favorite! It was freshly pressed), apple, and orange juice. The buffet included a limited amount of cereal options, and a decent selection of fruit that was regularly refreshed.
At the center of the restaurant was a set up that looked like a pot or vase – it held a variety of breads, pastries, cheese, and charcuterie.
The back area held hot items – steamed rice with beans, freshly made pancakes and waffles, standard breakfast meat (bacon, sausage, and the like), and made to order eggs.
We never ended up having room service during our stay, but we did peruse the menu, which was priced fairly in comparison to American hotels, though pricey for Myanmar.
The property has another restaurant on-site, located a quick 5 minute walk from the main building. It’s one of the taller buildings in the area, and visible from other parts of Bagan. When we checked in, we received free passes to head up to take in the view, though you can head up there and enjoy the restaurant (at no charge, I assume). According to the front desk, it’s got great views of Bagan, especially around sunset.
The hotel is located in the Nyaung U area, which is located close to the airport, though further away from the majority of the popular temples, which is closer to the Old Bagan area. That being said, it would be a bit effort to venture out on your own on an e-bike (a popular means of getting around for tourists) without knowing where you’re going.
Nyaung U is not without its charm of course – it does have its own little downtown area, chock full of restaurants and a few shops, located a quick 10 minute drive from the hotel. The hotel charges $30 USD to have a taxi drop you off and pick you up. It’s no doubt an extreme upcharge from the actual cost. Our tour guide connected us with with a driver who charged us $10 both ways.
Oh hey, and the view of Bagan from the hotel isn’t half bad.
We had a really great stay at the property – the staff was wonderful, the room was large and well-appointed, and the property was beautiful. Would highly recommend to anyone else. The only downside I’d say is the price – our rate was very good since we visited during the off-season, but peak season rooms are easily upwards of $300 – an insane price when you consider the cost of living in the area. Additionally, the cost for anything additional (taxi rides, tour guides) was pricey since the hotel was adding an additional fee to the price. Even so, it’s a very nice property and we enjoyed our stay.
Hotel Appearance: 8.5/10 – Lovely property and well maintained. The tower restaurant was a bit of an eyesore though.
Room: 9/10 – The room had basic western amenities that one might expect, though in terms of western luxury it was a little bit lacking (though excellent when comparing to properties in the area).
Staff: 10/10 – Very helpful provided excellent service.
Location: 8/10 – Located near to the Nyaung U downtown area, but further away from old Bagan – could pose a bit of a challenge for those trying to venture out on their own, due to the distance.
On-Site Amenities & Hospitality Services: 8/10 – Plenty of conveniences and amenities on-site to ensure a smooth and easy stay in Bagan, from a spa, to the ATM (I used this almost every day!)
Overall Rating: 43.5/100 (87%) ★★★★★