Myanmar

Where to stay in Mandalay? Ned Kelly Hotel is the clear answer.

I am not normally one to do “hotel” reviews. and I think it is best I iterate before I start that I was in no means compensated for this endorsement. Ok, that is slightly fabricated. I was given a beer on the house in the rooftop bar before I returned to life in Yangon. Or maybe I stole it, ‘cause that’s what Aussies do. Bushranger Style.

But the Ned Kelly is not an Australian Hotel, actually, nor is it a hotel. It is both a beautiful mix of Australian and Irish as well as being a hybrid of a hotel and a hostel.

But potatoes, gold mining, whatever, “to be sure “ it was definitely not a “welcome to the backpacker jungle scenario” like Ostello Bello down the road. Look, I have nothing against beer pong, karaoke and buckets of beer drunk by 23 year olds called Chad and Tiffany who are on their first solo voyage (which they did not have to steal a loaf if bread for). But at my vintage, it may be slightly fair to say that I have missed that fleet, and am a little more, um diverse in my nocturnal activity choice. Especially as many of the guests were young enough to be me when I still had hopes and dreams.

Not to say that there was anything wrong with Ostello Bello (aside from the wristband I was given which served the purpose for returning me home if I was lost and inebriated): the rooms were clean, the staff adorable, and the breakfast digestible.

On the second night, my stay in Mandalay took on a criminal angle. No, I did not steal a cheroot from the front counter, but discovered Ned Kelly. Even better, the friend who introduced me to Ned Kelly is an Irish Barrister working in Myanmar for an NGO training young criminal lawyers, so I followed the cases and even got to go to a court hearing and I must say, the legal system is so outdated that I may as well have been in Australia in colonial times.

Fuelling this theme was the fact that the very congenial French-Canadian manager called Leif had a hipster beard, a trend which I reckon was based on Ned Kelly himself. Fair dinkum.

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But issues with an Irish Pub being called Ned Kelly aside, I enjoyed my food and beers up there so much that I asked to see the rooms (even though the hotel was not open yet). They were clean, elegant and comfortable so I decided to stay there when I returned three weeks later from a trip around Kachin State: and I gotta say, boy did I need that hot shower which was provided.

The Ned Kelly is the perfect place for someone like me to be based whilst they discover Mandalay. It is well designed, comfortable, and has excellent common areas which allows one to be as social or private as they like. Not only that, but it has a spacious rooftop bar which is the ideal place to catch up on emails or do some work if you are a digital nomad like myself. Hotels can be too isolating, and hostels leave me wondering if I am a geriatric wanderer.

Having been to many lands in many continents, I have to say that Ned Kelly is in my top 5 places that I have stayed, The decor, the comfort, the hospitality (5 star service at a budget price), and the breakfasts all led me to actually wanting to write something about it. I cannot wait to return later in the year to see more of Mandalay and steal more beers.

Australian Bushranger style.

*All photos in this article were stolen by me without permission.

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