Reading George Orwell at the Strand Hotel

This iconic hotel was built as a wooden boarding house by an Englishman and in 1901 sold to the Sarkie brothers, the famous Armenian hoteliers, who renovated it to the structure more or less how it is seen today.  It soon became ‘the’ top hotel in the country and the first port of call for many writers who visited Burma, including George Orwell, Somerset Maugham, H.G.Wells, Noel Coward and Rudyard Kipling.

During the war, the Japanese occupation forces renamed it the Yamato hotel.  In the 1950’s it was sold and renovated and retained its position as the centre for post-independence high society.

After the 1962 military coup, the hotel faded into obscurity and was eventually sold in the 1990’s to an Indonesian entrepreneur and Burmese businessman partner who spent 4 million USD on restoring it to its former glory.

Though many promotions for the hotel like to invoke its literary past by inviting clients to drink in the same room and style of its two most famous residents, Orwell and Kipling, technically if you did so, you would be drinking alone in a corridor.  The 90’s restoration did more than just replace the wallpaper, it structurally altered the entire interior.  The bar area now, as you enter through the main doors on the right, was, in Orwell and Kipling’s time, a corridor that led to the ballroom, now the restaurant.  Orwell and Kipling would actually have enjoyed their ‘strand sours’ in the bar which is now the café on the left of the reception desk, probably more specifically where the line of chairs and tables meet the mirrored doors that lead to the kitchen.  Still, even with the most recent 2016 renovation which added a swimming pool in the abandoned car-park at the back, the whisky sours are just as good as always.

Address: 92 Strand Rd, Kyauktada Township, Yangon, Myanmar