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There are 17 rooms at Hillock Villa – each is designed differently. Those up hill to the left are made out of wood and share an expansive veranda. Therefore they are favoured by large groups and families. The rooms in the central building have bath tubs and their larger windows let in more light. The rooms downhill to the east are the most snug. Upon the small, sloped lawn space, guests can watch the lackadaisical life of Kalaw pass by.
FLASH POINT: Try Hillock Villa`s superb tealeaf salad assorted with sliced cherry tomatoes. Well-paired with a steaming cup of fresh Pa-O coffee for maximum boost!
It is said that Hillock Villa offers the best breakfast in Kalaw. The bed & breakfast offers guests a complementary assortment of dishes upon arriving at their table. This often includes a couple of pert, freshly-fried and piping-hot samosas. There is also cake: perhaps two slices of delicate butter cake that melt in the mouth, or a thick and chunky slab of banana bread. There is fresh fruit and fresh fruit juice (seasonal) as well as specialty coffee from the Pa-O. Guests choose a main dish of eggs and (if you are lucky) home-made bread, Shan noodles or pancakes. As long as you can finish, we recommend trying it all.
Large, jolly families from Myanmar’s hotter regions, wrapped up in coats and long trousers. Giddy in the temperate climate, they clamber out of gleaming white Alphards after jam-packed days of foodie tours and orchestrated photoshoots upon viewpoints. There are also more laid-back groups of thirty-year-old’s. They putter in on scooters weighed down with backpacks of bottled beer to squirrel away in their rooms. And then older expatriates – ‘the suits’ out of their suits. They are perhaps friends of the management and have been holidaying in Kalaw for years. They earnestly state once again that this year they will finally relocate from Yangon and Nay Pyi Daw to indefinitely set-up camp in Shan State.
Hillock Villa is on Damasatkyar Street, just up the road from Kalaw’s beloved tower. The railway station is a 5-minute amble in one direction from the tower. The central market 10-15 minutes in the other. There are an assortment of little eateries further along Damasatkyar. Try Kalaw Café for seasonal smoothies; Ro San for warm tofu noodles. At the crossroad of Ro San, one road leads to Kalaw’s Bamboo Buddha Pagoda and beyond that to one of the town’s best view points. Hillock Villa is a convenient starting point for treks as well as birding excursions and cycling tours to the village of Hin Kha Khone and the Kalaw reservoir.
Ingredients from the kitchen are sourced locally. The soap is made on-site – and looks tempting enough to sink your teeth into, as – we are told – some guests do. Single-use plastic is almost totally eliminated. There is a plastic-free coffee station open all hours and glass bottles of water are filled up at reception. At the reception, there is an array of locally-produce handicrafts including scarves from Inle Lake and handmade sculptural candles. Find here advertisements for local guides, tours and restaurants. Food waste is frowned upon and messages encourage guests to reduce their electricity consumption. Hillock Villa is also a member of the Kalaw Tourism Organisation which fosters a more dynamic and inclusive tourism industry.
Hillock Villa is homely and welcoming. The staff are charming and obliging, ever-smiling and conscientious. This comes from the top. The lovely Ohn Mar is in charge: a natural and obliging hostess. When Sampan first visited we were quickly invited to settle down to a cup of strong Pa-O coffee and steaming banana bread – apparently, our guide whispered to us, the best in Kalaw. Ohn Mar showed us the pine-cone handicrafts she had made that day as well as her own coffee-scented soap. A wizened dog with a silver snout sidled over to us and after a quick inquisitorial sniff slumped at our feet with a wheezing sigh. It felt like we were home.
Set amongst the pine trees since 1903, with a bold “Green Vision” for the future.
Bed & Breakfast in Kalaw. Cosy and charming and a fireplace for the winter.
A bamboo lodge in a village north or Kalaw; best for hiking and the sound of frog song.
Cycle into the Pindaya valley. Follow the Coffee & Tea Trail to see the elephants of Kalaw.