Some views just leave you rooted to the spot for a long time. My mistake was checking out the view from my room’s expansive windows after just stepping inside. There went my plan of getting down to unpacking and planning for the day ahead.
The view that had me enthralled was the golden sheen in the distance, set among a sea of trees, with roofs of buildings jutting out among them. That yellow glint came from a giant stupa of a pagoda – and not just any pagoda but the iconic Shwedagon. This 2,500-year-old structure is arguably the most sacred and impressive Buddhist site in all of Myanmar. It is situated on a hill, and the main stupa reaches a height of 110m.
After prying myself away from the window, I took in the sight of my executive deluxe room here in the Best Western Green Hill Hotel. It’s quite spacious, at 35sq m, with large-sized twin beds and space for a sofa, writing table and a bedside table.
There are three other room options: deluxe, grand deluxe and premier deluxe. In total, 187 rooms, all well-appointed.
The WiFi was complimentary, and did not lag, with reasonable speed and strength. (I had earlier been warned that connections in Yangon tended to be weak and inconsistent.)
The 42-inch LED TV has enough channels to keep a guest from getting bored (during rainy days and nights, which unfortunately proved to be the case during my stay in Yangon) and the big closet, mini-bar, fridge and big bathroom helped keep things quite homey. And not to worry, there is a safety deposit box too to keep all your valuables.
I was also thankful for the complimentary bottles of water in the room (luckily, Asian hotels still have this for their guests). And this hotel proved that Myanmar hospitality is top-notch – the welcome from all their staff was very warm and consistent, always accompanied by their smiling mingalabar (hello) greeting.
If you are planning on driving there, free parking is available at the hotel (which is near impossible if your hotel is in downtown).
I must say that the buffet breakfast served at Cafe Green Hill – the hotel’s only F&B outlet – is one of the best spreads I have ever had. It had a few stations serving freshly prepared noodles, eggs to suit your style, waffles and pancakes (with quite a few options for the spread). There was also sushi, mantou, Thai-style noodles, chicken rice, congee with an array of condiments, even Indian vegetable pakora, and the usual Western selections. The only let-down was the scant dessert selection.
What really made me happy was that they were not lazy with breakfast – on the second day, there were actually variations to the spread: Tonjiru (Japanese-style pork soup) made an appearance, and the mantou was now fried, there was also Miki chicken kofta and fried egg noodles. So call me Satisfied.
The cafe is also open for lunch and dinner, and there are ala carte options as well as set meals. For dinner, I had the four-course set which included dessert. I enjoyed the Chinese-style glass noodles and the Japanese-style sweet corn egg drop soup was excellent and I polished it clean. It was a bit weird to be served mainly Chinese-style dishes for the mains – Chicken Kong Pao, with stir-fried French beans with garlic on the side.
It would have been nice to try some Myanmar cuisine, though.
If you need to burn off calories from breakfast, rest assured there is a fitness centre on the property, with the usual equipment. It’s open from 7am to 9pm daily.
And for those on MICE trips, there is the Royal Lotus Ballroom on the rooftop and three fully equipped conference rooms.
A Yangon resident pointed out to me that the wooded area where the hotel is nestled is considered the Bangsar of Yangon. Tamwe Township has some really nice residential properties – as well as a big lake and gardens.
The Kandawgyi Lake is a great place for a stroll or a jog, although its greenish water is a bit of a shock. There are interesting nook and crannies within the park, which seems to also be a popular place for local courting couples.
At the periphery of the lake is a majestic boat which is said to be modelled after a Royal Barge. It actually houses the Karaweik Palace Restaurant, which is a bit fancy.
However, there are many other restaurants of more affordable range around the area (you need to pay a small fee to enter) and worth a look-in especially at night when it’s cooler and the lights are reflected on the water.
Shwedagon, of course, is a must-visit. A leisurely stroll of 20 to 25 minutes will take you there, and you won’t quibble about the energy spent once you feast your eyes at the wonders within.
So if you want to get away from the crowded, narrow and dusty streets of downtown Yangon, this hotel seems to be a good bet.
The Best Western Green Hill Hotel
12 Pho Sein Road, Tamwe Township, Yangon
Tel: 95-1-209299/300; 209343/45/46