Mandalay, the old royal capital of Myanmar, is crammed with gilded temples, busy tea shops and crowded markets – but the searing heat and dusty, frenetic streets can make navigating the city an exhausting affair. Counteract the chaos by finding sanctuary within one of the many spa hotels in the city.
Guests get a complimentary Thai massage upon check-in at Rupar Mandalar, a taste of what you can expect at the teak-heavy hotel spa – where you can soak in a solid wood jacuzzi and sweat out your stress in the sauna. The hotel’s a little way out of town, so you’ll probably want your own set of wheels if you plan on doing lots of sightseeing.
The rooms and suites at Ritz Grand Hotel are simple (there’s sadly no resemblance to those in its London namesake) but the rooftop restaurant and sky bar are show stopping, with uninterrupted views of the Shan Hills. Treatments offered at the Lilawadee Spa up the luxury stakes too, and include mangosteen salt scrubs, traditional Thai massages and reflexology. Rent a bike to explore the neighbourhood – if you’re peckish you’ll have plenty of hot pot and noodle shops to visit.
With manicured gardens, a clear blue pool and a great-value pagoda-style spa surrounded by a koi pond, Mercure Mandalay Hill Resort is a laidback retreat north of the city centre. The 208 rooms are decked with teak furniture, Burmese textiles and gold-leaf accents. For more bling, walk up nearby Mandalay Hill to explore the shimmering Golden Pagoda and take in the sweeping views of Myanmar’s second city.
The Haven is a family-run hotel just a 15-minute walk east of the old fortress walls. The 46 rooms are clean and bright with wooden floors and plenty of natural light. Some come with balconies, but everyone can enjoy fantastic views from the lounger-lined rooftop pool and bar, which overlook the Yaysitkan Reservoir and Shan Hills. Borrow a hotel bike to see nearby sights such as the elaborately carved Shwenandaw Monastery and Mandalay Marionettes Theatre.
Pullman opened in late 2019 and is one of the most outstanding places to stay in Mandalay. The contemporary design demands attention before you’ve even entered the lobby, and the rooftop garden and pool area is equally unusual. After a day wandering the historic city sites (you’re a 10-minute drive from the centre, but there’s a smattering of temples and monasteries close by), chill out with a sauna session or a massage at the luxurious spa.
The grotto-like spa at Hotel by the Red Canal is charming – if a little quirky – and the tropical garden, featuring trickling streams and a small pool, is the perfect place to relax after a massage. The Indian restaurant at the hotel is renowned for authentic flavours – budding cooks can even request a tandoori cooking lesson from the head chef.
Fancy sleeping in a train station? Luckily the rooms at Hotel Marvel – which occupies the upper levels of Mandalay Railway Station – are far comfier than a train platform bench, and come with powder-blue soft furnishings, pagoda-themed headboards and tiled wet rooms. There’s a small spa on level 4, ideal if you’re feeling a little sore after a long train journey.
Occupying a plot on the southeastern edge of the old fortress walls, Hilton Mandalay overlooks a corner of the old citadel’s sparkling moat. There’s an outdoor pool, fitness centre and complimentary bike rentals for active types – but if you want to truly relax, book time in the spa, where you’ll find a steam room and sauna, reflexology stations and couples massage rooms.