Myanmar, which is also known as Burma, is a country that has always been on my list of places to visit. I decided to take the plunge a couple of months ago to step out of my comfort zone and visit the city of Yangon after hearing so much about it. Singapore Airlines operate a daily flight (SQ998) that connects Singapore to Yangon directly - this was also the flight that I decided to take on a Saturday morning in order to maximise my stay there.
While Myanmar is slowly opening up to more tourists and foreign investments, it is still in its infancy stage of mass tourism so if you are interested to see the city before it evolves into that, it is best to go there by the end of 2017. Located along Sule Pagoda Road lies one of the most luxurious hotels in the city of Yangon - the Sule Shangri-La, Yangon. Following an extensive refurbishment and training for the staff of the property, the Sule Shangri-La, Yangon was rebranded from a Traders Hotel in 2014. I opted for the hotel limousine to take me from the Yangon International Airport to the hotel and similar to an earlier stay at the Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Penang, the limousine came equipped with high-speed WiFi so you can remain connected on the ride to the hotel.
During my visit to Yangon, I stayed in a Horizon Club Room and as a Golden Circle Jade Member, I received all my preferred welcome amenities (well done once again!) on the first day of my stay. If you are looking for a modern and contemporary room, this is definitely not it. What the Sule Shangri-La, Yangon is however is a marriage of Myanmar's colourful history and a superior level of service. While the room is not exactly big (approximately 34 sqm), it had everything I needed for a comfortable stay in the city of Yangon. Apart from the King-size bed, there is also a decent-sized work desk and a sofa by the window (where I ended up doing most of my work from anyway).
Apart from my preferred welcome amenities that I have pre-selected prior to arriving at the Sule Shangri-La, Yangon, the amazing staff at the property have also arranged for me to try some of the local snacks. I love how they have included the native names as well as the English translation in each one of them - having them handwritten on little cards make all the difference too! While I have received many gifts from hotels around the world for being a loyal member, I generally do prefer a localised gift over say a calendar (you would be surprised at how many calendars I have received over the years).
Since travellers are generally advised not to drink directly from the tap, bottled water is provided and replenished daily (or even during turndown) for your convenience. Honestly, the bedroom of the Sule Shangri-La, Yangon reminded me a little of the older Tower Wing in the Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore and while I generally prefer a more contemporary design in the bedrooms, the service and the food (especially during breakfast!) did help make up for it. Do not get me wrong though - the property and room fixtures were all property maintained and this is just a personal preference.
If you are one of those travellers that enjoy unpacking your luggage the moment you get in to your room, there is plenty of space here in the Horizon Club Room. An iron and ironing board are both also provided for your convenience - I generally prefer to have them in the room but I know some high-end properties like the St. Regis Bali Resort (check out my review of the Gardenia Villa here!) does not provide them because the butler is supposed to do it for you.
The bathroom of the Horizon Club Room is pretty typical of a standard business hotel - it also has one of those Shubs (Shower + Tub) which I personally do not like but I guess there is a space constraint and I still prefer a Shub over just a shower. One thing that I thought was inconsistent was the use of the regular in-house Shangri-La amenities - the other club rooms that I have been to uses the more premium L'Occitane en Provence bath amenities (in fact, I got this on one night during turndown) so I am not sure if this is a brand standard or just one that the property adheres to specifically.
Even though my room did not enjoy a view of the Sule Pagoda, I had a pretty impressive view of the surrounding city. You will also notice one of Yangon's rooftop bars directly in front of the hotel - the Yangon Yangon Rooftop which is located on top of Sakura Tower. I did not manage to go check it out myself since I was fairly unmotivated to grab a drink outside the Horizon Club (I did end up at a couple of restaurants though!) but it looks like a pretty cool place to get a bird's eye of the city. Honestly though, if you are staying at the Sule Shangri-La, Yangon, you already have one of the best views of the city.
If you intend to spend some time in the hotel, it is worth investing in a Horizon Club Room (or Suite!) since it gives you access to the exclusive Horizon Club which serves complimentary cocktails and canapes in the evening from 5:30PM to 7:30PM each night. The Horizon Club Rooms are also located on the highest floors on the Sule Shangri-La, Yangon and therefore offers better views of the surrounding city (and even the Pagoda!). If you are here on a business trip, you will also appreciate the complimentary suit-pressing and shoeshine service which is exclusive to Horizon Club guests only.
The Horizon Club is actually quite a big space and it occupies a sizeable corner of level 21 - private check-in and check-out is also available here for Horizon Club guests so you can actually relax over some light snacks and beverages while the lounge staff prepares for your arrival or departure. While I did have access to the Horizon Club throughout the day, I only really visited during the evening cocktail hour from 5:30PM. If you get here early, you can even secure a table by the window towards the end of the lounge that overlooks the majestic Shwedagon Pagoda in the evening. There is also a pretty generous selection of cold and hot food so if you are not exactly hungry, the food is definitely sufficient for a light dinner - otherwise there are a number of restaurants within and around the hotel (within a 10-minute walking radius).
Similar to most international chain hotels, Club Guests will have the option of having a full buffet breakfast at the all-day dining venue (in this case, the Cafe Sule) or a continental with reduced selection in the privacy of the club lounge. I opted for the former option since I have heard quite a bit from travellers who have visited this property - I just had to check it out myself! Located on the street level of the Sule Shangri-La, Yangon, the Cafe Sule serves up buffet breakfast between 6:00AM and 10:00AM daily. Apart from an international selection that one can generally expect to find in a luxury hotel, you will also get to sample some of the local favourites like Mohinga which Burmese favourite that is made with rice noodle and fish soup.
While the international selection at Cafe Sule during breakfast was pretty predictable, they were all done really well - honestly, some of the most legit hashbrowns I have had too in a while (super crispy shell and moist insides!). What really stood out during breakfast apart from the local Burmese selection was the Asian selection - even the Bak Kut Teh (something I did not expect to find in Yangon) was really legitimate. I also like that there is an order sheet that you can use for ordering eggs the way you like it - no more waiting around the egg station while casually glancing over to see whether your order is ready!
The Sule Shangri-La, Yangon also has her very own Fitness & Recreation Centre (also accessible by people who are part of a healthy membership program) which contains a range of cardiovascular equipment, a swimming pool, sauna, steam room and massage and reflexology treatments. The slightly odd-shaped swimming pool was also great at clocking a few laps and it helps to take some of that heat away during the day.
The Sule Shangri-La, Yangon is definitely one of the best hotels in the city of Yangon at this moment and the level of service is what sets it apart from the rest of competition. It is fairly convenient to get around the city on foot but if you are looking to grab a taxi ride to places of interest, be prepared to haggle or pay a fixed price.
This was a hosted media stay, though all views expressed are my own.