The Strand — Yangon, Myanmar
First opened in 1901, in recent years, The Strand Yangon had clearly seen better days. But now, after a gentle six month facelift, the property is back on track to reclaim its status alongside such institutions as Raffles in Singapore and Penang’s Eastern & Oriental as one of the world’s iconic grande dames.
Perched proudly on Strand Road, a teeming thoroughfare just off Yangon river, the Victorian gem rubs shoulders with crumbling colonial buildings and glossy skyscrapers that make up the city’s burgeoning downtown district dominated by the spire of the gilded Shwedagon Pagoda. Inside, the revamp has preserved key elements of the original design – including the building’s grand structural pillars, the handsome teak wood panelling and the four poster beds – while adding the requisite technology offerings essential for a 21st century hotel.
Bangkok-based interior design firm, P49Deesign has taken its cues from the building’s history with a modern twist on traditional colonial furnishings to include wicker chairs and comfy chesterfield sofas in bold colours and patterns.
Fuel up with a bowl of mohinga soup - the local fishy breakfast staple - served with a dose of nostalgia under whirring ceiling fans in The Strand Café or sample Chef Martena’s inventive European dishes in the restaurant before retiring to Sarkies Bar for a nightcap.
And while the electric streets of Yangon have plenty to offer, a slow meander up the Irrawaddy river on the recently launched Strand Cruise is a must-do, where its onboard indulgences are the icing on the cake after a day spent exploring the temple-strewn plains of Bagan.