29 Tuesday Jan 2013

Where to stay in Sihanoukville

Chinese New Year is just around the corner.  People living in the cities are planning trips to the beach.  In Cambodia, there are four coastal provinces — Sihanoukville (or Kompong Som), Kampot, Kep and Koh Kong; though Sihanoukville is the most popular destination of the four.  Located only 250 km or 3 1/2 hours drive from Phnom Penh city, Sihanoukville is an easy day trip to do.

Having the longest coastal beach in Cambodia, most popular beaches in Sihanoukville are Sokha beach, Ochheuteal beach, Independence beach, Victory beach, Otres beach, and Ream National Park beach.

Accommodation in Sihanoukville varies from high-end beach resort to bungalow style.  Here are our top choices of accommodation for 2013.

Resort and Hotel:
1. Sokha Beach and Resort
2. Independence Hotel and Resort
3. Holiday Palace and Resort

Boutique Hotel:
1. OC Boutique Hotel
2. Pagoda Rock (on a hill)

Guesthouses and Bungalow:
+ Beach Bungalow (Otres beach)



21 Tuesday Aug 2012

The Sothea – luxury boutique hotel in Siem Reap

The Sothea, once was called Alila Sothea Siem Reap, sprinkles light and romance as I reminisce about this place.  It’s true beauty, with Bali influence, is indescribable.  Located on National Highway 6, the hotel is built with a giant enclosed limestone wall, all covered in green leaves and vines.  At night, a glimpse of light flickers on the tiny wooden sign, THE SOTHEA, barely noticeable to the passing cars.   The word grandiose may be the right word as you enter the main front entrance.  A wall of paintings, some seem largely displayed and framed while some hang in disarrayed patterns, descending water steps creating a square moat surrounding a green patch of grass in the middle, and an open sky enclosure are at your presence as you pass through the main gate.   Running water from the water steps mimics the sound of dripping water drops, entertaining guests as they are greeted to the check-in counter.

While looking pass the check-in counter, a view to an outdoor pool is within reach.  I’ve attached a photo below.

The Sothea Hotel Siem Reap

Rows of pool lounge chairs are escorted along both side of the pool.  At the end of it, a giant white marble stone in the shape of a sleeping woman is placed in the middle.   The rooms surrounding the pool have the most exquisite access to it.  If you’re lucky, the rooms open to the pool with a floating deck.  On a hot summer day, the guest can lounge on their private floating-on-water deck or simply jump into the pool from their deck.

The room is another indescribable sight. The floor and ceiling are covered in dark-color wood, well polished that you can almost see your own reflection.  A white cover bed sheet gives a high contrast against the dark-color wood floor.  The furniture looks like they were selected from the Pottery Barn category, hand-selected for this Victorian style room.   I never forget the white porcelain shower tub with its animal-like shaped legs, silver in color, pronged on four corners on top of the bathroom floor.  The sense of calamity is washed away as soon as you set your foot into the bedroom.

Having stayed at The Sothea, I think 5 stars is understated for this hotel.

14 Tuesday Aug 2012

Bambu Hotel Battambang

On the several occasions that I made way to Battambang province, the northeastern part of Cambodia, finding accommodation in this city is frantically better than years ago.  Boutique hotels are not well publicized, but now thank to the world wide web, we can now find these amazing hidden boutique hotels through Google.  For this post, I want to share with our readers about my impression of Bambu Hotel in Battambang.

Bambu Hotel is situated on K.O Street, the infamous street of Battambang. In prior years, K.O Street was well known for its red light district.  Nowadays this street has become tame and highly respected by many locals.

The 16 room boutique hotel confounds me with its most unexpected atmosphere, or so-called “luxury in the middle of a rice farming province”.  Passing through the reception area, you are welcomed to an outdoor bar, and an enormous outdoor swimming pool thereafter.  A quick glance, without having being in it, you won’t have guessed that this is one of those salted (non-chorine) pools. The idea of having a salted body of water in a landlocked province seems comical to me, but it still beats having a pool than not having one, especially during the hot summer days.

Bambu Hotel Battambang

The rooms are built in the expectation of rural Cambodian housing.  Wood planks and wooden armoires are found in each room.  Even though air conditioning is available, each room is complete with mosquito net for each bed. No complaints there.

During one of my stays, the weather was not on my side and I was stranded at the hotel for dinner.  Surprisingly I was astonished by the food prepared at this hotel.  The fried rice is so delicious and merely simple.  The presentation and place setting wows your appetite and the staff are really amicable, making the meal even more enjoyable.

Bambu Hotel Battambang

Overall this hotel ranks high on my list of hotels in Battambang.  A couple of other hotels in Battambang are Le Villa Hotel and Phka Villa Hotel.