This hotel was booked for me by a Myanmar travel operator who arranged my logistics and I was wondering how to find it when I got to Kalaw. Lo and behold, when the bus from Nyaungshwe let me off on the main road through Kalaw, there was Winner Hotel right across the road! And it was there as well that my overnight bus to Mandalay stopped to pick me up. So, locationwise alone, i was already happy with the hotel.
But that was not the only thing I was happy about. The hotel itself was nothing outstanding, but it was clean and well-run, convenient to good restaurants and to the five-day market, and my room was comfortable and the thick blankets welcome against the Kalaw chill. I had a basement room and, contrary to a previous review, it was by no means dirty or smelly, and had windows UP to the road which gave light, but, yes, there are more attractive rooms in other parts of the hotel (which would have been too expensive for me as I was travelling solo).
Above all, the hotel has a wonderful staff, from the owner himself who took the trouble to show me around the hotel to the young people at reception who put me in touch with trekking guides and bus companies. They kept a steadily refilled supply of free hot tea in the lobby to warm you against the cold. It was enjoyable bantering with them. When waiting out the evening for my much delayed bus, there were these young boys on the staff who kept me chatted up while one of them stayed alert for my bus in the freezing cold outside. My stay here was the epitome of the amazing friendliness which is my best memory of the country.
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