Why did we find Aureum Palace to be the best hotel in Bagan?
Aureum Palace Bagan
We spent two nights celebrating our engagement in the 5-star Aureum Palace Hotel and Resort and we are convinced that it is the best hotel you can find in Bagan!
First impression and check-in
From the moment you arrive, coming down a long winding old fashioned driveway, you’ll be immersed in a world-class set-up! Driving past sculptures of elephants, deer, umbrellas, and one of the most eloquent and highly cared for landscapes you’ve ever seen, you’ll find yourself wondering how this paradise can exist in the middle of Bagan! Getting out of your taxi and walking up a luxurious staircase nestled comfortably between pools of water, and an atmosphere of what can only be described as though you’re “walking the red carpet”.
The staff kindly welcomed us at the entrance, helped us unload the car and escorted us to the check-in counter.
After a speedy check-in, a rundown of what all the amenities the resort had to offer, and a welcome juice, a couple of bellboys grabbed our luggage and took us to our villa by golf cart.
Aureum Palace is located directly in the historical site, harmonically surrounded by ancient pagodas. This admirable resort is set amidst 27 acres of tropical landscaped gardens in the middle of Archaeological Preservation Zone with no other modern buildings around it – this is what made the Aureum Palace the best hotel for us in the first place, as we were looking for a quiet and tranquil place in nature.
Overall, the location is isolated and secluded which can be both a benefit and a disadvantage – depends on what you are looking for.
Still, the hotel is located in the vicinity to the Old and New Bagan (about 15 minutes by car) and to the main transportation hubs: 6 minutes to Nyaung-U airport, and 8 minutes to the bus station. Aureum Palace also provides airport shuttle, which can be arranged in advance and is, unfortunately, overpriced for a 6-minute ride – around $15.
The golf lovers will not stay disappointed as there is a fine golf course located within 3 km to this 5-star resort.
We skipped the basic rooms on this venture, due to us being engaged that day, so we went right to the top. A stunning one-bedroom villa paradise situated on a small pond! If you’ve seen the movie “Chronicles of Narnia”, then you’ll have the picture in your head of what we saw. It was as if we walked through the cupboard and were transported to a parallel world! With wildlife in every direction, a pond to ourselves with some of the most marvellous lotus flowers you could imagine. It was an unforgettable sight, both in the morning with the sun rising softly and birds chirping; and in the evening, when the pagodas are illuminated, you can admire this beauty without leaving the villa.
Every villa in Aureum Palace is built of dark wood and so was ours. The inside of the villa was made of dark refined wood too, including the ceiling and the frames of the wide windows that exposed a fantastic view. We liked the generous use of wood flooring – it gave a warm and inviting feel when you return to the hotel after a day of exploration.
This color perfectly fits into the overall design and doesn’t make the rooms too dark, on the other hand, it makes them unique and exquisite.
A luxurious king-sized bed with feather pillows and blanket were the heart and soul of the suite. The high ceilinged living-room had everything we needed: a chaise lounge for relaxing next to the window and a TV, coffee table, mini fridge, and kettle to make our own coffee or tea. We were welcomed with fruit and flowers on the table – such a lovely detail.
With a 24hr room service, comfy bed, 2 spotless clean bathrooms, in room safe, and backyard porch overlooking the lake, what more in the world could you ask for?!
Both bathrooms were well stocked with an array of supplies: slippers, comfy red bathrobes, and all the toiletries necessary.
The first bathroom had a strong walk-in rain shower, huge jacuzzi tub, make-up counter, and a sink. The second was very spacious with a toilet, sink and a floor to ceiling mirror.
Being full-time travelers we take every chance to soak in a bathtub, so it was a genuine delight for us, and Aureum Palace gets bonus points for this one because not only was it gigantic, but because it had jets to massage our bodies!
The villa had a great built-in air conditioning system which was a saviour from the bustling Myanmar heat.
The internet service seemed to be working good both in the room and public areas.
Pro tip: Book a villa on the lake, room numbers are 101, 102, 103.
Other villas located far from the lake don’t have the same amazing view as the ones located directly on the lake. Moreover, the villas have many windows and when the shades are open, they offer little privacy, so there is room for improvement in this aspect.
Hotel amenities and grounds
We visited Bagan during mid-season, so we ended up being the only guests in Aureum Palace, except for the governing officials of the country staying next door to, us which we believe is the greatest proof of this hotel being the best in Bagan.
The hotel’s infinity pool with dimensions 40ft long 20 ft wide and 10ft deep is designed so that in the evening the pagodas reflect in the waters of the pool.
There is one pool that is a bit smaller and located in the center of the regular rooms, just across from the lobby entry point in the driveway.
The gym which was located underground between the pool and reception came fully loaded with a newly added free weight set, treadmills, and yoga room. In the locker area was a steam room, sauna, and hot tub to take care of all your therapeutic needs. The staff at the gym were very eager to bring you fresh towels and water throughout your workout so you didn’t have to leave whatsoever.
Aureum Nature Spa provides a heavenly experience with its entrance being a true replica of an 11th-century temple. The prices for massages range from 25 to 45USD per hour and includes Myanmar, Thai, Swedish, and herbal oil massages. Also, they have massage packages and a Royal Honeymoon Package.
The staff at the reception desk speak quite good English, which unfortunately cannot be said about the rest of the personnel. Despite this fact, most of the staff were helpful and friendly, however, we would expect more from the 5-star hotel. When you think of 5-star service you’d think of a place that runs perfectly with almost no flaws almost like a well-oiled machine. Here we ran into a few instances, particularly poolside where ordering even a beer began to be an overwhelming task for the staff. It took almost talking to 6 people at one instance to get a beer after being told it’s not possible by the people prior.
The breakfast was buffet style and came with everything from Burmese, Thai, Chinese, and Western cuisine available at your command. This was an international traveler’s delight!
Sitting down for breakfast promptly at 6:30 am as the sun was just peeking over the horizon, we were seated with a view of the pagodas and infinity pool in the near distance with the scent of freshly brewing coffee and the soft sounds of gongs close by. While traveling in Asia we usually have an Asian breakfast such as noodles or various soups, so we chose to opt for a western breakfast and it was a pleasant surprise!
With an omelette/pancake chef, selection of fine cheeses and meats, juice bar, and unlimited tea and coffee, we couldn’t have possibly asked for a better start to our day.
Everything was fresh and tasted delicious. The choice of food was excellent, there was nothing we could have missed! The staff was lovely, smiling and very attentive. They were immediately cleaning up tables and offering to refill the drinks.
The food at Aureum Palace restaurant was a bit pricey if you’re not looking to splurge for average tasting meals. We went for a bottle of wine, Tuna Tartare, and carbonara. Wine and tartare were good, although again the price doesn’t match the product given. If you’re looking to get more bang for your buck we suggest you take the two-minute walk down the driveway to the Tower.
The observation tower located right next to the hotel offers a magnificent birdseye view of all Bagan. We especially recommend going there to watch the sunset; or the dawn, when dozens of balloons fly over Bagan. On the floor below the observation deck, there is a panoramic restaurant with a stunning view. We found the food there to be more delicious and much cheaper than at the hotel’s restaurant, the service was exceptional too – like in a proper fine dining place.
Pro Tip: For hotel guests, the entrance to the tower is free and you can get entrance tickets at the reception.
Dinner at The Tower
• the food: we had what we thought was going to be a starter – grilled fish with local spices, garlic, lemon, and herbs. Boy were we wrong! For the price we were given a gigantic and deliciously flavored fish, a very generous portion to be shared by two people. The mushroom soup was fantastic, even though the portion was pretty small, we can not complain – the taste compensated for it. The prawn pot with noodles was very fresh and delicious, the portion was large too.
• the wine: a 2012 bottle of Argentinian red wine for half the price of the bottle next door at the resort and much more flavorful.
• the atmosphere: since we were there during low season, we were the only two people in the restaurant.
• the music: local musician playing popular American romantic ballads on his acoustic guitar, while the staff stood by and appreciated the music as much as we did.
• the staff: didn’t speak any English but didn’t have any problems communicating with us whatsoever and provided a high level of service.
• the view: situated on the 11th floor of the tower off the elevator you’re immediately immersed with a beautiful 360-degree view of Bagan.
Close by the Minanthu Village, and just a 2 minute ride by motorbike from the resort Jim proposed at a lesser known and very desolate temple.
While it wasn’t the picture perfect way Jim anticipated proposing, it only felt right to do it where it happened. Due to rain and low season, the reality of taking a hot air balloon wasn’t possible, nor was the backup plan of going to the top of a pagoda to propose with the balloons in the background. He almost felt as though he shouldn’t do it due to all the factors not seeming to work in his favor, luckily he did though, otherwise, we wouldn’t be writing this whatsoever!
Our experience at Aureum Palace has officially topped our list of incredibly memorable stays!
Not only because of our engagement as you might think, but also because this grand property fulfilled every expectation for a luxury hotel stay.
Every detail of architecture and interior design of our Aureum Palace villa were thought out and well executed – from the overall design and exquisite furniture to little details such as toiletries.
Want to read more on our Myanmar trip? Be sure to read:
Not in your budget? Don’t worry!
Want to know all you can about Bagan with a full budget breakdown before visiting?
Here are other places to stay in Bagan that we checked out:
Mid-level hotel - Hotel Yadanarbon. Right in the beginning of New Bagan and equipped with a morning buffet, inground pool, and private room for a low price of $17 USD/Nt during low season and $33 USD during high season.
Budget Luxury Hostel - Ostello Bello Bagan. One of, if not our favorite hostel chains in the world. With a sense of community around every corner, fine Italian coffees, one of the best wifi systems Bagan has to offer, and a bed in a dorm running you about $12 USD/Nt during low season and $18-24 during high season.