Ethical -- and great anyway!
A mid-sized, mid-range hotel in the middle of Wat Bo Road, just five minutes’ walk from the town centre, Soria Moria has several features to recommend it, not least of which was the Norwegian owners’ transfer of 51% of the ownership to the hotel staff in 2011. That move, which had been part of their original plan all along, is just one part of the active social awareness and commitment to responsible tourism that are at the heart of what this hotel is about.
This ethical underpinning informs virtually everything else about the hotel, which is nothing short of honest in concept, design and service. The rooms are all a decent size, spotlessly clean and unpretentiously decorated, with thoughtful touches like a choice of hard or soft pillows. The mattresses are dependably comfortable, and all the rooms come with TV, air-con, minibar, hairdryer, WiFi and water, and tea- and coffee-making facilities, and almost all have a safety box (those that don’t can use lockers downstairs). Similarly, most have a DVD player, and for those that don’t one can be requested from reception.
Downstairs, a small outdoor pool, complete with an indoor “beach” area, is a new addition. A very small (tiny) gym and spa is located on the fourth floor, from which you can also access the rooftop bar and Jacuzzi. The bar is a perfect spot for sundowners, with a lovely cooling breeze to boot, and movie screenings are held up here each Monday.
The restaurant downstairs does a number of weekly specials, such as a $1 night every Wednesday, when everything on a long list of tasty tapas dishes is only $1, including the drinks. This is hugely popular with guests and expats alike, and is also a part of a vocational training programme run by a local NGO that works with former street children. So you get to eat for cheap, and help someone out at the same time. In addition, food is half-price on Thursdays and Saturdays, making this an interesting option, whether or not you’re staying.
White bicycles are available for hire, the fees for which go towards sponsorship of local students and the purchase of water purifiers for nearby villages. They also sell gift cards that support these programmes. The hotel is also involved in a number of responsible tourism initiatives and a Norwegian NGO that works in the area. The lobby has a wide selection of crafts for sale, including some really good quality products, most of which are produced by Cambodia-based NGOs.
It would be impossible to list all of the initiatives that the hotel is involved in, and you can find out more by reading here. However, we are familiar with each one of the organisations that they work with and can confirm that they are all ethically run. It is easy for foreigners to get cynical about the role of NGOs in Cambodia, but they still play a vital role in providing much-needed services to the people — services that the government is not as yet willing or able to provide.
By Nicky Sullivan
Last updated on 11th February, 2016.