Jun 11 2013
Tucked away in a quiet sidestreet off popular Wat Bo Road, European Guesthouse offers more than just $5-a-night beds in air-con dorms, and private ensuite twins from just $16: its very own urban beach, a spacious chill-out area, relaxing hammocks in a shady garden, and prime views of the neighbourhood crocodile farm all help to make it much more than just another budget option for travellers to Siem Reap.
The European has already built up a great reputation on the backpacker circuit, but recent staff changes – a new British on-site manager and a Spanish gardener have joined the existing team – have heralded positive changes with a schedule of improvements planned. But for those who knew and loved the “old” European Guest House, panic not, it looks set to lose none of the warm, friendly and relaxing vibe that has already made it so popular.
The European’s 13 ensuite twin/double rooms, along with two ensuite dorms sleeping five and six – all with fans and air-con — are in a large and airy traditional two-storey Khmer house. Rooms are a good size, if a little basic, but are cleaned daily, have 90-channel cable TV, free WiFi, and wet-room style shower rooms with Western toilets. In addition to the well-furnished shady gardens and new beach area there is also a large bougainvillea-covered balcony on the first floor – the perfect spot for a quiet sundowner.
There is also an unfurnished rear balcony that overlooks a neighbouring crocodile farm – enjoy the views from here if you don’t want to pay the entry fee into the official tourists’ farm on the road to Tonle Sap Lake. It’s not a pretty sight, however, and soon it will be hidden from view when a two-bedroom extension is built onto the balcony. For now, it’s worth knowing that it would be virtually impossible for even the most drunken of tourists to topple over the balcony and fall in, unless they happen to be a champion pole-vaulter.
A breakfast of fresh baguettes with jam, fresh tropical fruits and tea or coffee is included in the rate for the private rooms, and eggs and bacon can be purchased for an additional $2 per person. There is currently no regular lunch or dinner service but a local pizzeria delivers for free with a range of pizzas from $3 up and a small selection of traditional Khmer dishes from $1.50 for fresh or fried spring rolls to $3.50 for a prawn tom yam soup with rice. A full, all-day restaurant service is imminent and should feature Western crowd-pleasers including pastas, salads, fresh fruit juices and smoothies.
If you don’t want to eat at the guesthouse, or fancy some local fare, the location near Wat Bo Road is perfect for a good selection of restaurants and bars. Pub Street and the Old Market area with their huge range of restaurants are just a 10 to 15-minute walk away. If you don’t fancy walking there is a trusted fleet of about 15 tuk tuk drivers who will take you into town for around $2. They will also take you on a full day tour of the temples of Angkor for $15 for up to four people.
Sunday is the guesthouse’s designated weekly chillout day with all day happy hour — beers reduced from $1 to $0.75 and cocktails down from $3.50 to $2. Curry specials, hog roasts and relaxing live music are among other attractions that regularly draw a sociable crowd into The European’s garden.
As well as making sure that guests have the best stay possible, the European Guesthouse is committed to social responsibility and actively supports a local NGO – Build Your Future Today. There are regular fund-raising events so you can do your bit to give back to the local community without compromising on the quality of your kick-back and hang-loose time.
If you book in advance, free pick-up from the airport, bus station or ferry landing on the Tonle Sap if you are coming by boat from Phnom Penh or Battambang is included in your room rate. And when it comes time to leave, there is a handy luggage store and communal shower rooms you can use if you have a long wait between check-out time and the departure of your night bus — go on, have a final night out and still be fresh and fragrant, all the way to your next destination.
#0566, Group 2, Banteay Chas Village
Wat Bo area, Siem Reap
T: (012) 582 237
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