For the more selective traveller, one of the advantages of a branded hotel is knowing you’ll be getting a certain level of quality and standard – both in terms of the hard product, but also from a service standpoint. When visiting an emerging country like Myanmar, one that’s only just opened it’s doors to organised tourism, my default frame of mind when searching for accommodation options is to head straight for the known entity. While sometimes taking this approach can mean missing out on an opportunity to discover something charming and new, at other times it’s a useful strategy that serves me just fine.
Alongside the Belmond Governor’s Residence, the Sule Shangri-La is likely to be the best option for experienced travellers looking for a spot of luxury amidst the chaos and bustle of Yangon. On the plus side, it’s in a great location for exploring on foot, and convenient for those looking for creature comforts in a city where the hotel stock is only just starting to open up to chains. While I would have been happy to stay at either, I think the Sule Shangri-la has the edge over the Belmond based on the unbeatable location, right smack in the middle of downtown. Anyone who’s been to Yangon will be familiar with the chronic traffic jams that are a mainstay of the city, so any opportunity to be within walking distance to sights is a bonus.
We stayed on the Horizon Club floor to have access to the lounge, and I have to admit I was a little disappointed with our guestroom. It was small, had very little storage space and a bit on the cramped side, especially if like us you tend to travel with a lot of luggage. Those who read my blog will know of my bathroom obsession – this was especially poor featuring a shower curtain as proof. The layout is pretty conventional with a large bay window overlooking the City, with views towards the Shwedagon Pagoda if you luck out. The Club Lounge at the Sule Shangri-la was just average when you compare it to other Shangri-la properties, featuring a fairly non-descript breakfast and evening canapes that were OK, but overall nothing to write home about. This was however countered by Summer Palace – the excellent onsite Chinese restaurant (try the Szechuan pepper beef – fantastic!). The hotel has a small pool, and a very well equipped gym, which we made good use of during our stay.
Overall, I would categorize this as a predictable business hotel; all the facilities are there, but none of them are especially memorable or particularly noteworthy. If you assess the Sule Shangri-la in context to its location, it’s very hard to beat although you should adjust your Shangri-la barometer to lower expectations prior to arrival.
Hotel – 7/10
Experience – 6/10