One of the best hotels in Burma’s former capital Yangon, the Governor’s Residence provides a quiet oasis of restored colonial charm from which to explore the city, says Kevin Revolinski
Governor’s Residence is a slice of luxury life right in the middle of Yangon. Governor’s Residence was exactly that, the former Yangon home of a governor of the state of Kaya. It was a 1920s teak house but has now been converted to a collection of rooms backing the colonial great house up front. The hotel has a certain oasis within an oasis aspect to it. The lush gardens separate it from a neighborhood of embassy houses that are already a little world unto themselves in Yangon. (Check availability online at Agoda.com).
The fellows in the car port strike a gong as you arrive and the staff will be waiting at the end of a short covered walkway. To the left is a free form pool which is god awful inviting in the heat. To the right are decorative ponds and manicured lawn. At night the dining room staff moves tables onto the grass for romantic dinners.
Rooms, decorated with touches of silk, are very spacious and the dark teak wood creaks underfoot. All have fine-tuned climate control (not a struggling ceiling unit), expansive bathrooms with separate rain showers, writing desks, and sitting areas with day beds. The hotel’s generator guarantees that the air con will work around the clock. (Some hotels can’t make that claim; even those with generators might only provide enough juice for a fan in your room.) Expect turndown service each night and fresh fruit on arrival. A hook in the ceiling above the bed is for a potential mosquito net though it wasn’t at all necessary when I was there. But as the windows, with their warped leaden panes, can be opened, one could conceivably seek shelter under a net while enjoying fresh air and the sounds of the night.
Breakfast is primarily Western choices and done very well with eggs to order, fresh bakery goods, and a nice buffet spread. Dinners are a la carte and a far cry from local pricing, as expected. At night dinner is served out on the lawn at white linen tables lit by candles and giant red parasols backlit and reposed along the yard’s perimeter.
WiFi is available close to the main hall (I could snatch a weak signal from my window only) and a chilly library offers a lone Internet-ready computer and some reading materials. Be aware that Internet in Myanmar is 1990s-dialup slow when it works, and without some web proxy program tricks many of the sites are restricted, including Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, and Yahoo Mail.
Guests lounge by the shallow pool or seek shade under the ceiling fans of the veranda and its bar overlooking the grounds. As I read in a wicker chair – a sweating gin and tonic at the ready — I caught strains of opera drifting up under the hip roof and all that was lacking was the scratching of a gramophone. The property is very relaxing and some may be tempted to never leave the front gate. (Don’t make that mistake.)
The hotel arranges drivers and guided tours with an outside company, which can get you to the city’s Chinatown and other markets. The one must-see attraction is the magnificent Shwedagon Pagoda, the gold-covered beauty at the heart of Yangon. If you’re OK with the heat, it is a moderate walking distance from the hotel (2 to 3 km). Venture there close to dusk to watch the embers of the sun do extraordinary things to the structure.
Book the Governor’s Residence Yangon online at Agoda.com