(Axel Boer) #1


that means guesthouses and hotels are still
relatively cheap. There’s virtually nil in the way
of fresh new faces, particularly in the budget
and midrange categories, and much of the
city’s budget accommodation is as dank and
dreary as ever.
The prices quoted here are high-season
walk-in rates, but almost all midrange and
top-end hotels off er discounts of up to 50%.
Many of the midrange and top-end hotels
also provide perks such as airport pick-up,
internet access and full-service business cen-
tres, and all provide some form of breakfast.
Only one hotel accepted credit cards at re-
search time and some high-end places also
add a 10% service charge and a 10% govern-
ment tax.
It’s worth noting that all large hotels will
have taken part in some fi nancial agree-
ment with the ruling junta to establish their
business. Some, like the large Traders Ho -
tel (Map p 42 ) in central Yangon, are joint
ventures between foreign companies and
the military. Others, such as the Kandaw-
gyi Palace Hotel (Map p 48 ) or the Central
Hotel (Map p 46 ), are owned outright by the
government or by those with close military
connections. As far as we are aware, those
listed here have a fairly minimal govern-
ment ownership share – if any. See p 21 for
more information.

Strand Hotel BOUTIQUE HOTEL $$$
(Map p 42 ; %243 377; http://www.ghmhotels.com; 92
Strand Rd; ste $550-1100; aiW) The Strand is
a relic of the same colonial-era legacy as the
Oriental in Bangkok, the Raffl es in Singa-
pore and the Eastern & Oriental in George-

town, but boasts what is arguably a more
‘colourful’ history than its peers.
Opened in 1901 by the famed Sarkies
brothers, the hotel in its early years hosted
the likes of Rudyard Kipling, George Orwell
and Somerset Maugham. During WWII, the
Strand was used to house Japanese troops,
and Burmese nationals were allegedly not
allowed to stay in the hotel until 1945. And
from 1962 to 1989, in what was quite pos-
sibly its darkest period (see boxed text) the
hotel was owned and managed by the Bur-
mese government.
The latest incarnation of the Strand dates
to 1995. It’s very much a luxury aff air, with
heaps of charm and history – even the bath-
room fi xtures are vintage – and a high level
of service. But it’s worth mentioning that the
Strand doesn’t have the same modern com-
forts as other hotels of this class (the TVs are
non-fl atscreen and small, internet is avail-
able only in the lobby or business centre, and
don’t even bother looking for an iPod jack).
Note also that, at the time of research, only
cash in US$ dollars was accepted, so book
online or make sure you have a lot of cash.
Even if you can’t aff ord the rent, the
Strand is well worth a visit for a drink in the
bar, high tea ($18; h2.30-5pm) in the lobby
lounge or a splurge lunch at the café.

oMother Land Inn 2 BUDGET HOTEL $
(Map p 42 ; %291 343; http://www.myanmarmother
landinn.com; 433 Lower Pazundaung Rd; dm $8,
r $10-25; ai) Take a pinch of backpacker
bohemia, a dollop of professional service,
a massive portion of cleanliness, mix well
with a generous helping of travel advice


Today, the Strand is easily the most expensive hotel in Yangon. Things were quite diff erent
back in 1979, when Tony Wheeler reviewed the hotel for the fi rst edition of this guidebook:

‘Staying at the Strand is full of amusing little touches – beside the reception desk there
is a glass faced cabinet labelled “lost & found”. Most of the articles were clearly lost half
a century ago, not many ladies carry delicate little folding fans around these days. The
single lift is ancient but smoothly operating. In the restaurant the maitre de is grimly effi -
cient in a crumpled grey suit in which he looks very ill at ease. The waiters call everybody
sir, male or female. Both the bar and restaurant close at 9pm but a small cache of Man-
dalay Beer from the Peoples’ Brewery is kept behind the reception desk should you wish
to continue drinking. By 11pm you are likely to be feeling pretty lonely in the lounge area,
though, just the occasional Strand rat scampering across the fl oor to keep you company.
On the last night of one Burma visit, to my utter amazement hot water came from the
shower when I turned on the tap.’
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