Built in 1903, the Kalaw Heritage Hotel in the old British Hill Station of Kalaw is a novelty throwback to the decadence of the British colonial period. With its cool weather, tree-lined streets and excellent walking opportunities, Kalaw is the perfect place for this old black and white building complete with tennis courts and charming gardens overlooking the railway line and nearby hills. It’s fair to say that this is one of the loveliest hotels that we’ve stayed in Southeast Asia…
Why does Kalaw Heritage Hotel Make our Flashpacker List?
The History – It’s not often in Southeast Asia that you spend the night in a building with such an interesting history. Kalaw Heritage Hotel is the second oldest hotel in the whole of Myanmar, next to the “Strand Hotel” in Yangon, built 1901. Although the hotel has been refurbished since its heydey, there’s still an old-world feel to the lodge with old photographs of Kalaw donning the walls, antiques and what would now be seen as ‘retro’ furniture.
The Location – Apparently, the original owners paid for the railway line to be diverted to run right in front of the hotel as they loved the sound and sight of the train that runs twice a day. The ‘chugga chugga’ of the train does seem to add an old-fashioned charm to the place. From the hotel, it’s a 10-15-minute walk into town where you’ll find the local market and many places to eat local or international food. There are various restaurants and shops near to the hotel, though you’ll feel right in the countryside! There are many walks that you can do from the hotel, passed the old cricket ground, beside the railway line or through the rather overgrown park with its abandoned crazy golf course. From the hotel, you can visit the nearby Shwe Oo Caves, the Bamboo Pagoda or take a stroll in the lovely pine forests and hills that surround Kalaw.
The Facilities – At Kalaw Heritage, there are large well-kept gardens and a shady terrace where you can relax after a day’s trekking. There’s a cosy cocktail bar serving up traditional cocktails like the Pegu Club, a wide range of wine (including local Myanmar wine, Aythaya) and a selection of local and foreign beers. But the cherry on the cake… I don’t think we’ve ever stayed in a hotel that has its own tennis court! Borrow racquets and balls from the reception free of charge and challenge the other guests to a game!
The Rooms – As you’d expect from a hotel of this quality, the rooms are very spacious (26-40 square metres), tastefully decorated and furnished in colonial style. There are three heritage buildings all built between 1903 and 1906, named Tudor, Acorn and Pine. In your room, you’ll find a kettle, flat screen TV, fridge, bathrobes, slippers, free toiletries, free water and a hairdryer to use. The duvet is sumptuous and the bed divine. And, the best thing… with the chilly nights of Kalaw, no AC is needed, so you can snuggle up in those duvet covers and get ready for the best night’s sleep you’ll have had in the whole country!
Breakfast & the Restaurant – We were given so much breakfast one morning that we had to take a doggy bag! Seriously, the breakfast is immense. You can choose either a full English, traditional Myanmar breakfast (Shan noodles) pancakes and honey, cold meat and cheese cuts, fruit yoghurt and homemade muesli, as well as tea, real coffee and freshly blended fruit juice. The food at their in-house ‘Sisson’s Restaurant’ in the evening is also delicious, serving Western, Myanmar and local Shan specialities.