May 31 – June 2, 2017
Room Rate: $234/night (including breakfast)
When I started planning this trip, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to make a stop in Yangon, but at the recommendation of a friend, I added it on to the itinerary. I was choosing between the Belmond Governor’s Residence and the Strand, but found the charm of the former to enough to push me to book at the property.
Belmond Governor’s Residence
Neighborhood: Embassy Quarter
Bar and Restaurant On-Property: Yes
Room Rate Range: $200-450 USD
Our flight from Bagan got in about 30 minutes early, so we arrived at the Belmond Governor’s Residence. Since I tend to frequent Starwood hotels, I wasn’t too sure if they would be able to accommodate us early when we arrived since I didn’t have status or anything of the like (not that there was status to be had).
Even so, we pulled up in our Uber (yes, that’s a thing in Yangon now!) and were warmly welcomed by the staff, who assisted us with our bags and brought us to the sitting area.
There were two sitting areas, both identical in large wooden chairs that faced each other. We made our way to the one in the back, nestled in a small nook, offering a sense of privacy. As we got comfortable, one of the front desk associates brought us some juice – I don’t know what it was exactly, though it tasted citrus-y. Brian found it to be too sweet, though I found the sweet, cold beverage to hit the spot in this mid-day Myanmar heat. Another front desk associate came by to confirm our details and inform us that not only did they upgrade us to a garden view room, our room was ready for us! After two days of pagoda hopping in Bagan, I was thrilled to be able to check in and relax.
And with that, one of the desk staff hit the welcome gong (yes, REALLY!), which Brian was pretty thrilled about, and the bellhop led us to our room for our stay.
The property grounds aren’t immensely large, though we walked through most of it as we made our way to our room. From the lobby area, we passed some greenery and the pool, before walking through the main building, which housed the hotel restaurant, Mandalay (where breakfast is served), a bar located on the second level, and store that sold local trinkets.
A small grassy area separated the main building from the rooms. Our building was just over a small moat, which our first floor room looked over. Now, I’m usually not one for first floor rooms (in fact, when I was at a hotel Mexico City, I asked to be moved from the first floor)
The room had a small entryway, with a hook to hang our room key on (that’s right, a physical key), a bench, and some decorative accessories to dress up the space.
The entryway lead to the main area – a largely comfortable space, with plenty of room to lounge around in. One could book this room for up to three people, and I assume a third person could have comfortably slept on one of the couches.
The bed was neatly draped with what turned out to be a very functional mosquito net. Though the room seemed enclosed, we did have find ourselves with a few insect bites while in the room, so we unraveled the mosquito net each night, and it seemed quite effective.
Though the bed was comfortable (we slept exceptionally well during our stay), the pillows were a little too soft for my liking. The room was blasting with air conditioning during with our stay, and the comforter kept us amply warm.
The bedside tables didn’t have any fancy upgrades – just held a lamp and an analogue clock. Each side of the bed had two outlets (though one was occupied by the lamp), which we were able to use to plug in our devices to charge.
Next to each side of the bed were a pair of slippers – one pair for a man and one for a woman (I could tell because Brian and I had each bought a similar pair in Bagan – the women’s version had a thinner material to it). A nice touch for use in the room (even though we had our own).
The minibar area held the standard minibar items – a fridge with sodas and beer (plus two chilled complimentary bottles of water, which I loved!), wine, snacks, and tea. It also had a safe, which was easy and straightforward to use. Inside the closet hung two thin bathrobes, material like a thin water-absorbent fabric rather than thick like a towel. The closet also held a proper laundry basket (not just a disposable bag like most hotels might have). There was also a small woven basket for use when heading to the pool, as the little sign attached on it said. The room had lots of thoughtful touches, which I appreciated.
There was a small desk area in the living room space, which held a welcome letter from management, welcoming us to the property and informing us of the on-site dining options and other things to help make our stay more comfortable. On the desk was also an activity schedule for the hotel – every night there was a different event, from a cocktail hour at the garden to complimentary yoga in the lounge to a stroll through downtown Yangon’s night market on Strand road. If we stayed longer, we would have certainly partaken in one of the events!
The sink area held plenty of toiletries – shampoo, conditioner, body wash, lotion (two of each!), plus a vanity kit, dental kit, comb, and shower cap. These were refreshed every day we were here; we were never at a shortage. The sink also held two bottles of water for use when brushing one’s teeth, as tap water is not recommended. A hair dryer and a spare roll of toilet paper was tucked into one of the sink drawers. As with the rest of the room, everything was well-stocked and ensured we were never left in need of more items.
The toilet room was just wide enough to house the toilet, but was notably deep. At the end of the room were two hooks – admittedly an odd place to hang towels, though I often find hotel bathrooms don’t have any hooks, so I was glad to have these at all.
The tub and shower were tucked behind the bathroom door. The tub was large, and though there was no shower curtain, the water only minimally splashed outside of the area. The rainforest shower head had moderate water pressure, with a long arm that extended the head to the center of the tub. I particularly liked this detail, as most rainforest shower heads are positioned closer to the shower handles, forcing you to stand on one side, and unable to enjoy the entire length of the space.
The property had bits of upgraded parts, like the pool, though everything was designed to match the mansion’s style and typical Myanmar design. A bonus? Guests will be able to wander the property with a couple of geese and peacocks.
Breakfast was included in our rate, and was it quite the spread. The buffet was spread out in three areas – two rooms and the outside area in between the two.
The first room held pastries, dairy (yogurt and cheese), charcuterie, cereal, and fruit.
A cooled table sat in one side of the room, which included an assortment of cheeses, including blue cheese, cardamom, and manchego. Complimentary to the cheese were meats and fish – salami, ham, mortadella, smoked salmon, and smoked butterfish. A number of yogurt flavors were offered – plain, coffee, ginger, and honey. Some chilled desserts (creme brule!) were offered here as well.
The other side of the room was lined with pastries, desserts, fruit, and bread. The pastry selection was full of some of my favorites – croissants, danishes, and apple tart. All were incredibly tasty. The cereal selection included a number of western options like cocoa puffs and corn flakes, as well as preserved fruit and nuts. The fruit options were plentiful of perfectly ripe and sweet fruit including seedless watermelon, pomelo, pineapple, and mango. There was a variety of bread available as well, including gluten free bread. Everything was fantastic and the amount of care taken in the preparation was evident in the quality and presentation.
The next room offered a variety of drinks. Fresh pressed juice was available made to order, or guests were welcome to pick up a prepared glass. Cold bottles of sparkling wine were offered as well – Francois Montand Brut, which retails for about $12 a bottle in the United States. Mix the two together? The freshest mimosa ever.
The rest of the food was laid out outside – mostly hot items. The offering was a mix of western and local dishes, which struck a nice balance. I’m always a fan of trying local food whenever I travel, but it’s always nice to have some items that I recognize. Breakfast included the standard waffles, pancakes, French toast, plus a range of proteins like bacon, eggs, and sausages. Asian dishes like black sticky rice and bean buns were not to be missed.
My favorite item was a station with a mix of ingredients that went with noodles and soup– from roast chicken, herbs, crunchy items – all of which you put together to build your bowl of soup (think: Myanmar ramen-type dish). One of the attendants saw me staring at the lineup and asked me if I’d be interested in trying the local dish. She helped me put a bowl together and I have to admit – it was one of my favorite things I had out of the buffet!
The hotel is located in what the website describes as “Embassy Quarter” – not sure if that’s the formal name, but it’s surrounded by a number of embassies in every direction. The immediate area feels mostly residential, and it makes sense – the property, built in the 1920s, once served as the official home of governor of Colonial Burma. The look and feel of the building today remains true to its colonial beginnings, with its airy walkways, teak armchairs, and lotus pools.
A few blocks away is the famed Shwedagon Pagoda, the pagoda to visit when in Yangon, as well as the picturesque Kandawgyi Park. A quick taxi ride away is downtown Yangon, where you can observe the city’s transformation – a mix of colonial era buildings sprinkled in with Myanmar-style edifices. If you’re so inclined, Yangon Central Station is located near the downtown area, where the circle train line has become a bit of a tourist attraction. Whether you decide to ride the train, you’ll have to admit – the train station is tastefully designed in classic Myanmar style.
Overall, I was a big fan of our stay here. The staff was helpful, our room was comfortable, and the food at the restaurant was fantastic. Would absolutely stay here again on our next visit to Yangon.
Hotel Appearance: 9/10 – Beautiful hotel, well maintained, and stays true to the look and history of the building.
Room: 10/10 – Loved my room – had lots of thoughtful aspects to it – from a tote to take to the pool to a mosquito netting. Everything was tastefully designed. Would have appreciated a few more outlets, but otherwise, everything was fantastic.
Staff: 10/10 – Everyone was so fantastic, caring, and incredibly helpful. Really went above and beyond for any of our needs or inquiries.
Location: 8/10 – Located in a reasonable distance in relation to lots of things you’d want to see, the immediate area doesn’t have a ton of things to do. In fact, every cab we hopped into didn’t seem to know exactly where this property was.
On-Site Amenities & Hospitality Services: 10/10 – Again, really fantastic. From the beautiful pool to the availability of the on-site spa, to scheduled nightly activities, everything was great. To reiterate, the staff was really helpful regarding any of our inquiries – from asking about the train schedule (which they had on hand), to providing us information about where to go to pick up some local souveneirs.
Overall Rating: 47/50 (94%) ★★★★★