Keeping tradition alive
Despite being one of South east Asia’s largest countries, little is known about Myanmar, due to its military dictatorship. The good news is, the country is slowly opening up to visitors. While many hotels have sprung up in the last five years, our preferred choice remains Belmond Govenor’s Residence.
The colonial-styled mansion is rich with heritage and has stayed true to its architecture since it was built in the 1920s. Today, the garden residence is home to just 49 rooms, and offers respite from the busy city centre. And while there’s no skipping a visit to the famed Shwedagon Pagoda, an elevated temple village, we’ve rounded up five handy tips that’ll make your trip to Yangon and Belmond Govenor’s Residence all the more enjoyable.
It wasn’t always the official residence of the governor of Myanmar
Sure, that’s where the hotel’s name came from. But prior to that, it used to be a simple mansion. The mansion was built in the 1920s by Armenian brothers, and then sold it in 1952 to house the heads of the Karenni state as a governor’s residence. In the 1990s, the government shifted their operations, and the residence was converted into a luxury hotel, with the addition of garden wings to its main building. Until today, the discreet driveway hides the immense size of the hotel from prying eyes.
The mansion is crafted entirely in teakwood
Take a look at the main building, where the welcome lounge, restaurants, gift shop and bar sit. The structural beams, stairs and railings are all crafted in teak. While minor restoration has been carried out, a bulk of the residence remains what it used to be in its heyday.
Wildlife is aplenty on the grounds
While you’re sipping tea by the verandah, don’t be surprised if a peacock or peahen a make an appearance. They’re the hotel’s resident birds, and are looked after by the residence’s chief gardener. You’ll also meet two geese going about their day on the lawn. And you’ll soon forget that you’re right smack in the city, for you’ll wake up to songs by chirping birds instead.
The residence is an advocate of art
The hotel may not shout it out loud, but take a closer look and you’ll notice numerous art pieces. The hotel has also kept its intricate gingerbread-style trim in the architecture, adding much character to the premises. In June, Belmond Governor’s Residence also invited local artists to paint on bamboo and other mediums as part of an art installation
The best local food is just a 10-minute walk away
The hotel’s Burmese Curry Table serves a mean variety of local curries and salads, but should you have time to spare, I’d recommend heading to Feel Myanmar Food. The local restaurant serves authentic Myanmar cuisine such as Mohinga, rice noodles in a clear fish broth; Burmese curries; a wide variety of Burmese salads including those made with banana flower and picked tea leaves. Feel operates 18 restaurants throughout the country, and we’d recommend visiting at least one of the outlets. Drinks wise, head to the residence’s Kipling bar, where award-winning mixologist Min Hein Khant concqots a potent Picturesque Paddy cocktail, including, a vodka-based cocktail mixed with hints of coconut, pandan, lime and rice.