In the heart of Myanmar’s frenetic commercial hub, Yangon, sits Belmond Governor’s Residence — an oasis of lush greenery and colonial-style grandeur. Located in the leafy grounds of a nearly hundred-year-old colonial-style mansion, the Governor’s 49 rooms and suites are the perfect spot from which to explore this golden land of crumbling colonial architecture, shiny bright gold pagodas and lush tropical landscapes. Myanmar, on the western fringe of Southeast Asia and only recently opened to tourists after decades of military rule, remains a relatively “frontier” destination despite being a swift one-hour plane ride from Bangkok.
With a lavish banana tree-lined pool, ample spa, two restaurants serving up local, regional and international cuisine and award-winning cocktails, the Governor’s Residence is an opulent place to retreat to after a few hours sightseeing. Here, you can sink into the serene soundtrack of birds chirruping, water flowing, and palm fronds swaying gently in the breeze. To stay at the Governor’s is to feel real opulence: the softness of worn ancient teak flooring, the coolness of bespoke ceramic tiles, the heaviness of local handmade glassware.
The Governor’s Residence is hidden away in Yangon’s embassy quarter where grand old buildings sit back from wide and quiet palm-lined roads. It is, however, just a ten minute drive from some of the city’s biggest attractions including the colonial old town with its stunning, yet crumbling, heritage architecture and the religious heart of Myanmar Buddhism, the ancient Shwedagon Pagoda. For the active, the hotel offers bikes for you to explore the vicinity. While the quiet location makes for the perfect in-town hotel with a resort-type feel, it does mean drinking and dining options within walking distance are limited. It’s about an hour from Yangon International Airport, making it convenient both for a weekend trip from Bangkok and a place to station yourself before heading to other Myanmar tourist hotspots such as the temples of Bagan or Inle Lake.
While the 1920s mansion itself holds the hotel’s restaurants and bars, the 49 rooms are in the luscious gardens behind. Perfectly matching the style of the heritage property, the rooms and suites are spacious with plenty of natural light and views out over verdant verdure. Befitting the old-world charm of the hotel, the rooms are dressed in wooden furniture, hardwood floors, and beautiful local silks and cottons. All but 14 of the rooms come with a free-form terrazzo bath perfect for a long luscious soak after sightseeing. A number of the rooms feature bay windows with seating to enjoy views of lotus pools and tropical flora from the comfort of air-conditioning. Others are fitted with antique furniture, hand-carved canopy beds, and balconies.
Drinks & Dining
Belmond packs two restaurants, a lounge, and a bar into the two-storey mansion, enough to sate any visiting gourmand. Downstairs, with tables lining the terrace over looking the pool, gardens, and lawns, the Mandalay Restaurant serves up European and regional dishes with local twists. Gin cured salmon is served with pickled radish, pineapple, fish roe. A fantastic squid ink dumpling is stuffed with scallops, seabass, prawns, and mushrooms in a punchy mushroom broth — betraying chef Karl Reyes’ training in both French and Japanese cuisines. The beef cheek, braised for hours in red wine and tomato, is served with mashed potato to craft a hearty, wholesome, homey dish you wouldn’t expect in Myanmar. The tables spill out into the gardens, so pick a spot among the pools and foliage for some peace, privacy and a good chance of spotting the hotel’s resident peacock couple, Charlie and Darlie.
Upstairs, the Burmese Curry Table is for those that travel with their tastebuds. It’s a buffet celebration of Myanmar’s cuisine with a range of curries, salads, barbecue, noodles, and local desserts. Attention to detail is key and Belmond has stayed true to local flavours by using traditional charcoal fires and cooking methods at the different stations, bringing that street food freshness and taste to a luxury environment. The perfect place to end the night is the hotel’s Kipling Bar, which serves award-winning cocktails with a local edge in a smart bar decked in hard wood, plenty of leather, and ceiling fans.
Health & Wellness
The Governor’s luscious deep green pool fans out from the main building’s terrace. It’s the perfect place to refresh and escape the Yangon heat but its also long and deep enough to do some proper swimming. There’s plenty of places to lounge around the pool and enjoy a post-swim cocktail, including a few cabanas nestled in the foliage.
The spa’s bijous size betrays its wonder. Here, some of the country’s best-trained masseuses deliver Thai and Swedish massages, manicures, and pedicures. The Governor’s Residence uses traditional organic ingredients of cedarwood, jasmine, and rose so each treatment is an olfactory journey. For those wanting something really unique, the Ku Nye treatment takes inspiration from Tibet and uses a combination of cupping, acupressure, kneading, hot stones, and herb poultices tor revitalize body and mind.
In weekend mornings, the hotel offers complimentary yoga classes on the first floor, looking out over the hotel’s greenery with the sound of birds singing. It’s a great way to start the day before heading downstairs to enjoy the champagne breakfast guilt-free.
The uniqueness of the Governor’s Residence almost makes it a destination in itself and certainly a reason to fast track long-held plans to visit Myanmar. It’s a hotel with real soul and character. Its antique setting and Belmond’s attention to detail make any visit like staying with a longtime, lavish friend. It’s the perfect oasis from which to get acquainted with Myanmar and its capital city. After a swim in the pool, as you lounge in the shade of banana trees sipping a Governor’s Collins — the hotels kaffir lime take on the gin-based Tom Collins — you’ll feel that perfect blend of excitement, stimulation, and deep relaxation we all look for in a luxury break.
Belmond Governor’s Residence, 35 Taw Win Road, Dagon Township, Yangon, Myanmar, +95 1 2302092