This hotel was a bit of an unknown for us, and it felt a bit like unpacking a surprise present: unassuming on the outside, and yet it turned out to be a fantastic find — and a great first experience of Myanmar.
It’s a funny thing about the Mercure Mandalay Hill Resort. At first sight, the main building looks just like a run-of-the-mill city hotel. But don’t let this deter you. The rest of the place is beautiful, with unique pagodas surrounding the main swimming pool, and the Spa inspired by the traditions of the architectural heritage of Burma.
Discovering this hotel at the heart of Mandalay starts with a really nice meet-and-greet — worthy of the best luxury hotels (think all smiles and fancy welcome drinks).
It’s not too early to mention that the fantastic staff at this place really makes it. The first impression was great, and then it only got better. There was never a too-difficult thing for the front desk or the restaurant staff, never had they demonstrated anything but genuine friendliness.
Soon after our arrival we were being walked to our accommodation. And it was not upstairs, in the main building. We went past the swimming pool (cue nice chill music in the pool bar), and soon we entered the Spa area… which we did not entirely expect. Was our accommodation in the Spa? Guess what — it actually was.
Full of charm
We checked-in to one of the Spa Villas. Surrounded by a Koi fish pond and verdant tropical greenery, the villas share the space with the Spa proper and essentially are part of is, enclosed by a common wall. The villas also have their own special space for treatments, adjacent to the bedroom. The whole Spa complex looks like a temple, with architecture resembling ancient pagodas.
Our villa felt very cosy, and we thought it was full of character — done up in dark wood carved in traditional patterns, with heavy curtains separating the bedroom from the spa annexe, and heavy doors with coloured glass inlets.
And the king-size bed, surrounded by golden decorations, was just heavenly. A fantastic night sleep — but not before we tried the private steam room and a huge mosaic-clad bathtub. Yes, the villa has it all.
The next day it was all about sightseeing, following a truly sumptuous breakfast and after we grabbed a couple of bikes from the hotel’s leisure centre. Some of the places we wanted to visit in Mandalay are only a short bike ride away.
The Mercure is a great base from which to explore further afield too — and explore we did, checking out Mingun, as well as U Bein Bridge (tip: visit at sunrise).
This was our first stop on a Myanmar trip in which we travelled down the country, to Bagan, then Inle Lake, and finally to Yangon and even further, to the southern frontiers of the country.
One thing for sure: Mandalay was a superb start of this adventure — and the Mercure Mandalay Hill Resort the perfect first experience.