Luxury hotels, including international chains, have established themselves on the lake itself in recent years. We were very envious when sailing past them on our boat trip although couldn't help but think how loud it would be having a room that opens out to the lake with all those boats going by early each morning.
The Paramount Inle Resort is one of the most impressive of these lakeside stilted hotels and features restaurants and a spa onsite for USD85 per night and upwards. Near to the Red Mountain Winery there is also a lovely looking luxury resort just known as Inle Resort and costing from USD75.
The best choice in the mid range option in our opinion is Yar Pyae which for USD25 for a large double room was the best standard of hotel we enjoyed in Myanmar. Facilities are clean and new, the staff are friendly and the included breakfast is very good. Best of all, if you arrive on the night bus which gets into town at around 5am they'll let you check straight in at no extra cost which makes all the difference when it comes to enjoying your first day in the area.
The Inle Apex and Inle Star hotels sit at similar prices and are also based conveniently in Nyaung Shwe. We found there to be a wide selection of accommodation in this area to suit everyone from luxury travellers to backpackers and everyone in between and the village is so small that any location is convenient. We enjoyed being around a 5-minute walk from the centre as it can get somewhat busy and loud in the mornings especially.
The area also offers some good options for budget travellers as well as some homestays. Homestays didn't use to be allowed but some are now available – they tend not to have online booking and rely more on word of mouth or people dropping in when they arrive which can be a risky tactic in a very small but very busy tourist town. Homestays also tend to be used on the trekking tours in the local area, giving an excellent chance to see what life is like for families living in rural Myanmar. This could be a great way to experience a homestay combined with a trekking tour.
More and more accommodation in this price range seems to be springing up as Myanmar continues to become a more popular stop off for backpackers who are exploring South East Asia. Cheaper options sit at around USD17 for a simple guesthouse such as the Lady Princess Motel or Hotel. The Manaw Thukha hostel gets rave reviews and is famed for an excellent breakfast and great value for money with rooms starting at around USD8 per night. The Song of Travel Hostel costs a few dollars more and is equally well reviewed. Both are located in Nyaung Shwe and easy to navigate the local area from.
Standards of accommodation to expect
Overall if you stay in these main tourist areas you can expect basic but clean accommodation, friendly and helpful service and perks including free breakfasts and bicycle hire. Wifi can be questionable like the rest of the country but was better than expected and freely available at most of not all hotels and restaurants.
There have been reports of places getting booked up very quickly, especially in high season between December and April so it's worth booking in advance to ensure you can secure the type of accommodation that you're looking for.
Some people have ended up staying on monastery floors which may not be something you feel like doing!