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Early in the 20th Century The Strand Hotel Yangon was declared by John Murray in his Handbook for Travellers as ‘the finest hostelry East of Suez.’ Conceived by Aviet and Tigran Sarkies (two of the four entrepreneurial Sarkies brothers of Armenian descent) the Strand Yangon opened in 1901.
Much of its glamour and elegance remains. The spacious thirty-two suites come with a living area, handcrafted wooden beds and high ceilings, and large windows allow natural light to flood in during the daytime. Following two phases of renovations in 2016 and 2017, the colonial hotel now boasts an outdoor swimming pool, garden, spa treatment rooms, and a gym in an adjacent annex building.
The food on offer is excellent, primarily based upon classic French cuisine at the Strand Restaurant, and focusing on Burmese and Western fare at the all-day dining Strand Café. The Strand also offers a very popular high tea, classic (British) and a Myanmar version. Both are exquisite and come with an excellent choice of black and herbal teas.
The Strand's bar (‘the Sarkies Bar’) is architecturally the finest in any Yangon hotel. It is said to have once been a hub of intrigue and oriental skulduggery; today it is mostly a place for a quiet drink, but it can fill up with tourists, expats and locals alike, milling about the billiards table and sipping Strand Sours during Friday’s Happy Hour (at which point complimentary canapés do the rounds).
FLASH POINT: Staying up late for nightcaps at the Sarkies Bar; chatting with the barmen and playing a few rounds of billiards.