Tim Foolery

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Sule Shangri-La Hotel – Yangon Myanmar (Rangoon, Burma)

While in Yangon  (Rangoon), Myanmar we decided to stay at the Sule Shangri-La Hotel. We chose to stay here early in our trip planning process. Coordinating a trip to and around Myanmar isn’t easy on your own. We initially didn’t want to hire a tour company but you can’t really book many of your excursions, internal flights, or some hotels online. One way around this is to use a local travel agent – after doing some research, we found that the Travel Desk at the Sule Shangri-La was very helpful for people in this predicament.

After booking, we decided it would be better for us to book with a separate agency not affiliated with the hotel. We didn’t cancel our booking even though we could have saved money by booking another hotel. Our rate of about 150USD/night was high for the city but the cost / benefit still made sense to us.

We had the opportunity to book an airport/hotel transfer directly from the hotel for a whopping 40USD (for a Toyota or 50USD for a Mercedes). A taxi had a flat rate of 8,000 kyats (or 5.33USD). Included in our tour was all airport pick ups and drop offs.

The trip from the airport to the hotel took about 35 minutes with moderate traffic.  We pulled into the hotel and we’re greeted by several front door employees who welcomed us and took our luggage.

This is the first hotel I’ve ever stayed where you go through a security screening before being allowed into the lobby. This didn’t concern me at all, just a new experience for me. Bags had to be x-rayed and guests had to go through a metal detector. This is rally just Security Theater – as each time I set off the metal detector, I just told them it was my belt and they let me through without further screening.

Check-in was quick. I have no status with Shangri-La Hotels and I booked a cheap room without club access, so they didn’t have much to explain to me. We were told where the pool was located and a bit of info on the spa, which we had no plan on using (the spa that is).

We were given a room on the 8th Floor. This standard king room was just that standard. Our view was not the fancy view shown on the website – but as I always say, it isn’t often I care what the view from the hotel looks like, and this is a time where I couldn’t care less.

As you enter the room, the closet is on your right and the bathroom on your left. The closet has a standard hotel safe and two bathrobes. I don’t use bathrobes in hotels, and if you want to know why, I can tell you about my gross friend Jeff.

The bathroom was also a pretty standard three-piece setup.  Single vanity, a toilet (not in a separate WC) and a shower/tub combination.  We didn’t have shampoo in our room – we had to ask…twice…before they actually delivered it.  I never travel with shampoo as every hotel room provides it and it is just extra weight in your suitcase. We took multiple showers a day while at this hotel and we had consistent water pressure and temperature.  The towels weren’t plentiful, but they were soft and luxurious.

Single Vanity – all other toiletries were here, except the shampoo.

The tub/shower combo – loved that the shower head was high enough – I hate crouching while bathing.

Toilet with the AAA required telephone within easy reach.

The room itself was appointed with a king bed, a chaise lounge (which was very comfortable for a quick afternoon nap), a desk and a small table for your suitcases.  The power outlets were universal outlets where you could plug in US, UK and standard European plugs — plus the room had outlets on each side of the bed.  God I hate when hotels don’t have outlets near the bed.

The bed was pretty comfortable and each night turn down service was offered where the staff would close the curtains, remove the decorative items from the bed (shams, etc) and leave us a small milk chocolate.  Yes, I do prefer dark chocolate, but I still ate it.

The bed and chaise were great – sitting on the chaise sent me into immediate nap mode.

The king bed had some very bright and locally themed art above.

We had a few drinks at the bar – usually while we waited for dinner or regrouped and discussed our days activities.  The bar itself was comfortable although a little dated.  The service was spot on, when you arrived, you were greeted and given a menu…then it took a while for them to return to take your order and God forbid you wanted a second round or to pay the check — you couldn’t find a staffer if your life depended on it.

The main bar at the hotel – a little dated, but comfortable nonetheless.

The lobby bar had plenty of seating when we were there – never needed to wait…except for service.

I didn’t visit the spa or the gym on property, but I did spend a couple hours at the pool one day.  After a relaxed day of site seeing, we ended up back at the hotel around 16h00 and I popped down to the pool.  The sun had already moved behind the buildings, so there wasn’t much direct sunlight, but it was still warm with a warm breeze.  The pool itself was surprisingly cold – it was quite a shock when hopping into the water.  Not many people were hanging around by the pool, but they did have a life guard who made you sign a liability waiver upon arrival and also delivered and setup your towels.  There was no bar at the pool area and people were smoking just around the corner from the pool – even though they were close, I only smelled the smoke once, not a deal breaker for me, but if there were more smokers out there it may be problematic.

Much needed pool time – sun was gone for the day and the water was very cool, but it was a great way to close out the day.

Everyone we encountered at the Sule Shangri-La spoke near perfect English and greeted you with a warm smile.  If I had the need to return to Yangon I would definitely consider the Sule Shangri-La again.  It was a comfortable hotel with nice amenities and staff.  I wouldn’t consider this a destination hotel, but if the price is right, I would recommend it.  I would recommend checking out the prices at the Strand Hotel, a beautifully restored colonial era property near the river.  We had drinks there (get the Pegu Club) and really enjoyed the space and the service team.

Where did you stay in Yangon?  Do you prefer the larger hotels like the Shangri-La or the Strand, or do you prefer smaller mom-and-pop type establishments?   What is a deal breaker hotel amenity for you — do you need a nice pool, a spa, a world class bar?

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