Jan 06 2013
If you’re looking to stay in a beachfront bungalow along Sihanoukville’s Otres beach, Papa Pippo Bungalows is a solid choice — not because of the bungalows themselves, which are small and basic, but for the space surrounding them, their outlook, the overall homey atmosphere and the attached friendly restaurant serving up no-fuss Italian fare.
Papa Pippo isn’t just the name of this popular Otres Beach hangout; it’s a personality. Actually, it’s two personalities: one is the affable Italian proprietor and the other is his equally affable son, the bartender/manager. The last establishment before the beach park begins, it’s easy to miss if you’re a first-time visitor and get sucked in by one of the many other new Otres beach hangouts along the way. It wouldn’t be a tragedy, because they have a lot going for them, but there’s something special about Papa Pippo’s that makes checking it out and checking in for a night or two worth the meagre extra effort it takes to find it.
What makes Papa Pippo special? Well, it’s not the bungalows themselves. Of the nine bungalows worth mentioning, seven are just big enough to fit double beds in comfortably, while two larger family bungalows house an extra single bed without becoming too cramped. (The few bungalows not worth mentioning are tucked away behind the others and are usually reserved for the staff.)
All bungalows include mosquito nets, fans, small cold-water bathrooms and not much else. Aside from the private bathrooms, which most other Otres beachfront bungalows lack, and a little more elbow room, they’re no better or worse than their neighbours.
There’s nothing really special about the free WiFi at Papa Pippo, either. That’s available pretty much everywhere in Sihanoukville these days.
It’s only when you step outside of your room that you begin to appreciate what makes a Papa Pippo bungalow special. In a word, it’s space. Papa Pippo takes up a good chunk of land, but doesn’t cram it full of bungalows and beach chairs. The appeal of a beachfront bungalow, after all, is the beach, and from the little veranda in front of your bungalow, that’s what you get — and lots of it.
At $30 per night or $40 for the family rooms in the high season, Papa Pippo’s bungalows might not seem like good value until you compare them with what else is available on the Otres beachfront. Most of the others along the beach look like they’ve been crammed in as an afterthought and all of them are boxed in by bars and restaurants on both sides.
Neither flashy nor funky, Papa Pippo just has a pleasant homey feel to it and that may be its greatest appeal. This becomes apparent as soon as you step into the bar/restaurant and order a meal. The Italian dishes, while not flashy, have an authentic home-cooked feel that’s a nice break from the pretend Italian food you find elsewhere. Modestly priced from around $3.50 for a piadina, made with house-made pita and filled with real mozzarella cheese and your choice of other fillings, to $6.00 for a pizza with everything, it’s all served with a smile.
If you’re looking for more luxurious accommodation on Otres Beach, you’ll have to go across the street, where zoning laws permit brick accommodations. On the beachfront, only brick cooking and toilet facilities are allowed, at least for now. Across the street, you might find little niceties like hot water, air-conditioning and toiletries, but you won’t be able to feel the sand between your toes when you step out of your room in the morning or enjoy a delicious breakfast from your beachfront veranda. If that’s your idea of luxury, then Papa Pippo is perfect.
Papa Pippo Bungalows, Bar and Restaurant
Otres Beach, Sihanoukville
T: 010 359 725
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