Yangon Excelsior views its city’s colonial past through a modern lens: expect art-deco elegance, marble and mod cons, spa highs and very fine food and drink. Rooms feature five-metre-high ceilings, parquet floors and vintage curios; additional eye-candy comes in the shape of two ravishing restaurants (one with a carnivore-pleasing Josper grill). There’s also a spoiling spa that doffs its hat to indigenous ingredients and ancient healing techniques. And the prime city-centre setting seals the deal: all Yangon’s best bits – lakes and temples and tea rooms, oh my – await on the hotel’s doorstep.
Noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 2pm.
Double rooms from £145.76 ($190), including tax at 15 per cent.
Rates usually exclude breakfast. The buffet spread includes waffles, pancakes, eggs, fruit, juices, coffee and tea.
At the hotel
Mini gym with a running machine, exercise bike, dumbbells and a cross trainer; free WiFi throughout. In rooms: TV, workspace, shaving mirror, air-conditioning, minibar, free bottled water, kettle, tea and coffee, blackout curtains.
Our favourite rooms
The Junior Suites make knee-weakeningly lovely sleeping quarters, thanks to their lofty ceilings and lashings of space.
The Excelsior Spa has a trio of treatment rooms where nimble-knuckled massage therapists dish out ache-busting remedies. Try one of the globally inspired ‘Touch for Body’ massages. Spa products champion fragrant indigenous ingredients.
Bring cover-ups for temple visits and hiking boots for outdoor expeditions; a thirst for tea won’t hurt.
Communal areas are accessible to wheelchair users, but rooms aren’t particularly tailored to guests with impaired mobility.
Little Smiths can come, too, but don’t expect lots of distractions for them. Cots, baby bedlinen, changing mats and high chairs can be provided on request.
Local materials star in the design, solar power heats the water, and earth-kind cleaning products are used. The majority of hotel staff hail from the region, and the restaurants use local, seasonal produce.
The private dining area on the mezzanine is great for small gatherings; none of Steel Brothers’ tables for two in the main room will disappoint.
Match your setting with white linen layers and pops of jewel-rich colour; add in a dash of gold and glamour in deference to the chef.
Billing itself as a café-deli – and inspired by typewriter-toting media-hubs of yore – the Newsroom serves a relaxed selection: freshly baked breads, sandwiches, salads, pastas and home-made pastries – alongside a classically British afternoon tea. In the evening, the focus shifts to tapas and wine. There’s also Steel Brothers Wine & Grill, which offers global cuisine in a dining room decorated with orange, teal and gold accents – accentuated with lashings of white, and lots of marble and parquet to up the sartorial ante. Menu highlights include a pea and popcorn soup, moreish oysters, succulent grilled rock lobster and blue-cheese gnocchi topped with chorizo.
Steel Brother Wine & Grill closes at 11pm; the Newsroom winds down half an hour later.
The 24-hour room service menu spans treats such as pastas, sandwiches, rice dishes and desserts.
Yangon Region is an administrative region of Myanmar, located in the heart of Lower Myanmar.
Yangon International Airport is an hour’s drive away; the Smith24 team can book your flights and transfers if you’d like.
Central Station is a 10-minute drive from Yangon Excelsior, with services connecting you to Mandalay, Myitkyina, Mawlamyine and other cities.
The hotel has parking nearby (MMK1,000 for one hour); drop your luggage off at the front door first.
Worth getting out of bed for
Start with what’s right in front of you: unwind in the elegant library, have a treatment in the spa and familiarise yourself with Yangon’s multicultural cuisine in the duo of restaurants. Then, venture beyond: Yangon Excelsior has an enviable position, a five-minute walk from the jaw-dropping, two-thousand-year-old Sule Pagoda and its iconic golden cupola. Another short walk will bring you to Maha Bandula park or the majestic city hall. Visit the Chauk Htat Gyi Buddha Temple – home to an enormous 65-metre Reclining Buddha statue, which was restored in the Sixties. Around the Chauk Htat Gyi Buddha image are eight shrines (one for each of the eight days of the week in Asian astrology). Mingle with the locals haggling for fresh produce, spices and other essentials at the busy Bogyoke Aung San Market in the Pabedan township, which has more than 2,000 stalls. Pick up local handicrafts and souvenirs such as jewellery, puppets, lacquerware and Shan shoulder bags; it’s also a great place to talk to a tailor about that new suit you’ve been dreaming about… The Shwedagon Pagoda – and its 99-metre tall, gold-plated stupa – is Yangon’s most famous landmark and a key pilgrimage site for Buddhists. (Just ask staff to book a taxi there and back.)
Begin the day with breakfast or brunch at the relaxedRangoon Tea House on the ground floor of 77–79 Pansodan Street; order copious cups of 16-lapet jay (local tea with condensed milk). Head to Strand Road and have a long and leisurely lunch at Union Bar and Grill, which serves British cuisine with a Burmese twist. For dinner, enjoy colourful fusion food atIndian Tadka on Pyay Road or dress to impress at swellegant Seeds Restaurant & Lounge, which serves up lakeside fine dining courtesy of a Swiss Michelin-star-nabbing chef.
Toast your holiday in style at Gekko on Merchant Street. This Japanese restaurant, in the gracious Sofaer & Co building in downtown Yangon, has a tempting cocktail list and a solid sake selection.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this heritage hotel in Yangon and unpacked their tea and tailor-made clothing, a full account of their Southeast Asian city break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Yangon Excelsior…
A city as fascinating as Yangon deserves hotels with serious cultural and sartorial clout. Happily, Yangon Excelsior over-delivers on both counts. Here, you’ll find ravishing rooms styled with lofty-ceilinged, marble-and-parquet grandeur; we’d happily have put down permanent roots in the palatial suites. Two elegant restaurants ensure you stay fed and watered in style, whether that’s via the irreproachably elegant afternoon tea served in the Newsroom or the more internationally inspired fare dished up in swish Steel Brothers Wine & Grill (sausages Vaudois-style, or succulent rock lobster, perhaps). Swot up on Yangon’s storied history in the comfort of the cosy library, or put your book down for the excellent spa, where expert masseuses use indigenous ingredients to revitalising, reinvigorating effect. Given all this onsite spoiling and spa-ing, it’s hard to step outside – but the effort is richly rewarded by Yangon’s cultural treasure-trove…