Great places to stay in Siem Reap
First published 10th February, 2013
Accommodation standards in Siem Reap have improved beyond recognition in the last few years, across nearly all budgets. The gateway to Angkor now has more than 300 hotels and guesthouses and the chances of a soft landing are high. Here, though, are a few of our favourites that won't break the bank.
Dream a dream
Starting at the top, the recently opened Navutu Dreams Hotel, Resort & Spa is set amid paddy just a 10-minute tuk tuk trip away from the centre of town. Designed by the Italian family behind the highly commended Navutu Stars resort in Fiji, and the much-loved Italian restaurant Il Forno, Navutu Dreams is a step into another world.
White Neo-Moroccan villas sit in a tropical, landscaped garden, with a Polynesian straw-roofed dining pavilion forming the centrepiece, flanked by two Egyptian blue swimming pools. The effect is stunning, even before you get to see the spacious rooms, which are exquisitely designed with a gorgeous Mexican cyan backdrop to offset the sculpted white walls and carefully selected pieces of regional crafts. Rooms start at $108 per night, so it could be worth a splurge for one night even if your budget wouldn't normally go that far. Alternatively, check out the spa, which combines Cambodian and Pacific know-how and ingredients in a cool, luxurious setting. Follow it up with a cocktail or dinner at the restaurant.
From the last boutique hotel to the first, which has undergone some changes to say the least. It's a bit of a muddle, but the Golden Banana was one hotel that is now four different hotels, all with the same name but owned by two separate people. Among them, the Golden Banana Superior Hotel is absolutely worth a look in the $28 to $55 range.
You'd be bananas not to consider it.
Only a five-minute walk from the buzzing town centre, the butter yellow two-storey building incorporates large, beautifully furnished rooms with all the bits you need plus a view from the balcony on to the long open-air swimming pool below. The Superior serves food, but just around the corner the Golden Banana Boutique Resort features the really lovely Red Lantern restaurant, a romantic evening spot that serves western and Cambodian food on a covered terrace overlooking the pool. Follow the magnificent Chinese red lanterns to find it.
A hotel with a heart
It has to be said that Soria Moria Boutique Hotel is possibly the best in town. Not necessarily for the size of their rooms, though on average they're reasonably big, nor for the quality of their decor which is good but not outstanding. Their location on the Wat Bo Road is excellent, but that's not it either. They have a bright, airy restaurant that has an excellent $1 tapas night on Wednesdays, but that's not what makes us smile every time we hear their name. Nor is it the full schedule of activities, whether it's movie nights or the "Oh My Buddha hand me another one of those outrageously cheap margaritas" nights. What makes Soria Moria stand head and shoulders over most hotels, anywhere, is the size of their hearts.
More than just a hotel.
Soria Moria was founded in 2007 as a boutique hotel with 38 rooms and from the very beginning, this Norwegian owned and run hotel was about making Cambodia a better place. The hotel has been associated with and active supporters of a number of reputable local NGOs since its inception, including the $1 tapas night, which is also a hospitality training night for disadvantaged youth. They have invested heavily in their staff training and support, with the real coup coming last year when 51% of the hotel's ownership was transferred to the staff. If you would like to do your bit to contribute to Cambodia's future, they have plenty of ideas for you to follow up on.
The rooms at the Soria Moria range from $40 to $65 per night, and we forgot to mention they also have a rooftop bar perfect for watching the sun sink down over the horizon.
Elegant and tasteful
Just up the road from Soria Moria, and still within walking distance of town, Frangipani is a lovely one-year-old hotel. It's the creation of three enterprising Cambodians, an architect, a landscape gardener and a marketing whizz, whose specialties have come together in an elegant symbiosis. The two large, airy buildings house tastefully decorated rooms (from $40 per night), featuring lots of four-poster beds with gently fluttering canopies, silk throws, flowers and subtle contemporary motifs. A setting this lovely would cost significantly more pretty much anywhere else in the world.
Look out for the frangipani.
The pool at the back is a real prize, and faces east so is perfect for afternoon swims after a morning spent trampling around temples. Our only reservation here is the restaurant in the principal building, whose standards and ambiance seem rather at variance with the rest of the hotel.
Build a future
Way over on the other side of town, there is another hotel with a heart. Actually, Sala Bai is not really a hotel but a hospitality training school that takes in 100 disadvantaged young Cambodians and gives them formal and practical training in the industry.
Part of the training includes hosting guests in the few rooms above the (amazing) restaurant, which are simply decorated, clean and very good value at $20 per night. At that price, you're doing more than securing comfy accommodation; you're building someone's ability to grasp their own future, which is worth so much more in the long run. On that note, it's worth remembering that sometimes the staff may struggle with their developing English skills especially at the beginning of the school year, and they may make the odd mistake. But I can't describe the happiness you'll take home with you knowing that you can play a part in helping them to help themselves build a future of their own making.
The restaurant downstairs, which is also part of the training school, is headed up by a very talented Cambodian chef who has worked at five-star hotels in the Middle East. The experience and creativity he brought back with him is a gustatory joy and the set menus, which change every two weeks must be checked out whether you're staying here or not.
155, Phoum Tapoul
T: (063) 963 329
A true rose
If you're into more homely fare, then Rosy's Guesthouse could be the place for you. The love child of a young English couple who met and fell head over heels in Siem Reap, Rosy's is a sort of home away from home for many.
Rosy and homely.
Like its owners, it is down to earth, straightforward, but thoughtful and also enormous fun on the monthly charity quiz nights. The bar area has a pool table, and two large flat-screen TVs for catching up on sports and the Wednesday movie nights. For the hungry, Rosy's beef and Guinness pies are the stuff of local legend. Travellers with children will be thrilled by the recently opened Kids Room downstairs, which is stocked with toys, soft flooring, a blackboard wall, books, and anything else the owners can get their hands on.
Rooms at Rosy's range from $8 for the dorms and $15 to $35 for the rooms.
Rosy Guest House
# 0074, Phum Slor Kram
T: (063) 965 059
Unique and creative
On a more esoteric front, in the north river area you'll find The 1961 hotel, a sort of accidental hotel that started out as somewhere for artists to hang out, that became a sort of artists' residence and then evolved into a hotel with art and all things creative at its heart. You never know what you might come across here, from poetry slams to creative writing workshops, art and photography exhibitions, and then there might be dance, meditation, music gigs, you name it. As they say themselves, The 1961 is not so much a hotel as a creative space which means that guests can choose to simply enjoy the unique atmosphere and creativity that bursts from every nook and cranny, or can participate themselves if their muse should so take them by the ear.
Rooms are clean and basic (from $40), but each one is uniquely decorated according to a theme associated with the 1960s. Indeed, they are called galleries; galleries in which you can also rest your head and take a shower. The themes reflect global politics – the Cold War and John F. Kennedy – as well as important Cambodian cultural icons of the time, such as renowned architect Vann Molyvann, the royal family or Cambodia's most famous pop singers Sinn Sisamouth and Srey Sothea.
Not your average hostel
Super-popular with backpackers, the Siem Reap Hostel is only a two-minute walk from the Old Market, and is really much more than just a hostel; it's one of the only places in town with an indoor pool too. And a pool table, and a regular yoga schedule, games nights, occasional gigs, Sunday barbecues and, you know what, it's impossible to keep up with their busy schedule unless you're actually staying there. The Siem Reap Hostel makes a virtue out of hiring energetic, creative management teams whose sole reason for living seems to be ensuring that their guests have as much fun as possible while they're there.
Not your average hostel.
Rooms are spotlessly clean, and for those who want to step out of the party light, there is comfy seating on the large balconies on the first and second floors where you can find some space to just chill out – subject to the traffic on the street below. Dorms start at $6 (low season), and rooms are $15 to $45.
The Siem Reap Hostel
7 Makara Street
T: (063) 964 660
Locally owned Mandalay Inn is one of those places that people just can't seem to praise enough. Set in a large Cambodian style villa off the river road, the compact rooms are modest but scrupulously clean and the service is really among the friendliest and most helpful you'll find in town. They also have the only Burmese restaurant in Siem Reap.
A great sundowner
Just a little bit further down the road from the Mandalay Inn, but still within walking distance of Pub Street and the Old Market area, the Cashew Nut Guesthouse is a real trooper of a place for many of the same reasons as Mandalay. The service and friendliness of the staff is wonderful.
The rooms are all spotless and excellent value, with prices starting at $14, and the tours they offer have been developed by a fellow who has spent many years leading groups around the region. And to crown it all, the roof. Yes, the roof. This is a fantastic spot for sun-downers with an open-air lounge area in which to chill, enjoy the sunset, and let the beer rinse out the dust and the worry.
Cashew Nut Guesthouse
T: (063) 765 015
Story by Nicky Sullivan
Related readingFive special hotels in Cambodia
2009 Top Phnom Penh guesthouses
The best islands in Cambodia
The best places to stay on Cambodia's islands
Read 1 comment(s)
Add your comment
Feature story quicklinks
- Giving back in Southeast Asia (15)
- All stories
- Angkor Hospital For Children
- COPE: Helping people move on
- Epic Arts
- Free the Bears Laos
- Helping Phuket's children in need
- Helping Siem Reap's rubbish dump families
- Helping Singapore's transient workers
- Helping the Karen of Burma
- Humanitarian Services for Children of Vietnam
- Lifestart Foundation, Hoi An
- MyME Yangon
- Swim Vietnam
- Thai Freedom House, Chiang Mai
- The Samui Prison Project
- The SET Foundation
- Burma (9)
- Cambodia (23)
- All stories
- A Cambodian Eco-lodge
- A honeymoon in Cambodia
- Angkorian traffic woes
- Battambang weekend
- Elephant riding in Cambodia: Should you?
- Great places to stay in Siem Reap
- Is Preah Vihear safe to visit?
- Kampot or Kep?
- Koh Rong: Trouble in paradise?
- Kompong Cham escape
- Northeast Cambodia in photos
- Oh Poipet!
- PEPY:Sustainable Cambodian tourism
- Phnom Tamao Wildlife Refuge
- Sihanoukville beaches lure expats
- Spas, shopping & seers in Siem Reap
- The best islands in Cambodia
- The best places to stay on Cambodia's islands
- The Death Highway
- Trekking in Virachey National Park
- Trekking the Cardamoms in Cambodia
- Which Cambodian island is right for you?
- Why you should go to Cambodia
- Indonesia (14)
- All stories
- A funeral in Toraja, Sulawesi
- Climbing Rinjani
- How to hire a boat in Indonesia: Without drowning
- Learn to surf in Bali
- Medewi: A great Bali getaway
- Mountain biking in Bali: A ride in the woods
- Pasola, Sumba
- The Gili islands: Which is the right one for you?
- Ubud bird watching: From waterhens to witchcraft
- Ubud shopping guide
- Village trekking in Tana Toraja
- Weekend in Nusa Penida
- Yogya's student scene
- Laos (18)
- All stories
- A breeze through Luang Prabang
- Best budget rooms in Luang Prabang 2013
- Elephant trekking in Laos
- Exploring Laos' Bolaven Plateau
- Huay Xai to Pak Tha by slowboat
- Is Lao Airlines safe to fly?
- Laos' vanishing elephants
- Luang Prabang escape
- Luang Prabang for kids
- Muang Ngoi Escape
- Photos of Luang Prabang, Laos
- Pi Mai Lao in Luang Prabang: In 1999
- Southern Laos by scooter
- Temples in Luang Prabang
- The Gibbon Experience
- The Phonsavan adventure
- Vientiane's Chinatown
- What to buy in Luang Prabang, Laos
- Malaysia (10)
- Singapore (9)
- Thailand (79)
- All stories
- 10 Bangkok galleries worth a look-see
- 10 Thai treks aside from Chiang Mai
- 24 Hours in Bangkok: Sukhumvit to Siam Square
- 31 Thai islands
- 5 Southern Thai towns to lose time in
- A Thai homestay in Ayutthaya
- A weekend in Phra Phradaeng
- A weekend on Ko Samet, Thailand
- An extra day in Krabi
- Andaman Sea island hopper
- Are Thailand’s cheap guesthouses disappearing?
- Ayutthaya temple tour
- Bangkok for art lovers
- Bangkok's Charoen Krung Road
- Bangkok's Thonburi: exploring the west side
- Brilliant Bangkok
- Chiang Dao getaway
- Chiang Mai's temples
- Corruption in Thailand
- Eating on the edge
- Elephant's World Kanchanaburi
- Exploring Lamphun
- Exploring the Lungs of Bangkok
- Far southern Thailand: Go or not?
- Five days in Khao Lak, Thailand
- Floating markets around Bangkok
- Great Thai food blogs
- Highlights of Chanthaburi province
- How to do Khao Yai National Park
- Khao San Road safety and scams
- Ko Mun Nork: a nearby paradise
- Ko Pha Ngan 7-day detox:Colonic fast
- Ko Pha Ngan's best beaches in 2013
- Ko Phi Phi on a budget
- Ko Tao for non-divers guide
- Ko Yao Noi or Ko Yao Yai?
- Ko Yao: the islands you're looking for
- Learning Muay Thai in Bangkok
- Motorcycling the Chiang Rai loop
- Narathiwat: residence of good people
- Navigating Bangkok: The BTS Skytrain
- Phuket by night
- Phuket for Kids
- Phuket heritage walk: Car parts to saris
- Phuket's secret beaches
- Planning around Thailand's civil unrest
- Roll your own Kanchanaburi
- Should I book for the full moon party?
- Should I cancel my Thai holiday? No.
- Should I cancel my trip to Thailand? No.
- Soi Thong Lo, Bangkok
- Sorting out Suvarnabhumi Airport
- Staying at a Thai monastery
- Thai islands for nature lovers
- Thai islands to lose yourself on
- Thai visa FAQ
- Thailand tsunami wrap
- Thailand's Full Moon Party
- Thailand's Mae Khlong market
- Thailand: Where to from here?
- The best beach on Ko Samui
- The best places to stay on Ko Kut, Thailand
- The bridge over the River Kwai festival
- The road to Sangkhlaburi
- The road to Sangkhom
- Travelling through north-east Thailand
- Trekking in Thailand
- Trisara -- decadent luxury at its best
- Two days in Kamphaeng Phet
- What are the alternatives to Bangkok?
- What is the best beach on Ko Tao?
- What is the best island in Thailand?
- What's a good beach on Ko Pha Ngan?
- What's a good beach on Ko Samui?
- Where to stay at Railay Bay, Thailand
- Where to stay in Sukhothai?
- Where to stay on Ko Samet, Thailand
- Which beach on Ko Samui?
- Which island in Trang?
- Vietnam (32)
- All stories
- A short break in Nha Trang
- A Weekend in Can Tho
- Being fed Fido: Eating dog in Vietnam
- Buying a touring motorbike in Vietnam
- Con Dao escape
- Do nothing and see the best of Hanoi
- Doing the DMZ from Hue
- Exploring Kon Tum
- Exploring Vietnam's Mekong Delta
- Great Hanoi cafes to chill out in
- Ha Long Bay conclusions
- Ha Long Bay for backpackers
- Ha Long Bay for budget-busters
- Ha Long Bay for flashpackers
- Hanoi escape
- Hanoi or Saigon?
- Hoi An -- Walking over the dragon
- How to do the Dien Bien Phu loop
- How to enjoy your time in Vietnam
- How to pick a good Ha Long Bay cruise
- Is the Hoi An culture tour worth it?
- Motorbike Vietnam's Central Highlands
- One day in Hanoi
- Responsible shopping and eating in Hoi An
- Saigon's top 10 cafés
- Sapa or Bac Ha?
- Saving Vietnam's bears
- Street food safety
- The DMZ: Traveller tactical briefing
- Travel tips for Tet in Vietnam 2013
- Two Wheels & Ricefields: A review
- Which is the best street food tour in Hanoi?
- Accommodation guides (21)
- All stories
- 2005 Top guesthouses in Bangkok
- 2005 Top guesthouses in Chiang Mai
- 2006 Top guesthouses in Hanoi
- 2006 Top guesthouses in Phnom Penh
- 2006 Top guesthouses on Ko Phi Phi
- 2006 Top Luang Prabang guesthouses
- 2008 Top Bangkok airport guesthouses
- 2008 Top Luang Prabang guesthouses
- 2008 Top spots on Phu Quoc Island
- 2009 Top guesthouses in Bangkok
- 2009 Top Phnom Penh guesthouses
- 2011 Best places to stay in Kuala Lumpur
- 2011 Best places to stay on Ko Phi Phi
- Best places to stay in Hanoi 2012
- Cheap Phuket guesthouses & hotels
- Five special hotels in Cambodia
- Ko Lipe's best budget guesthouses 2012
- The best hostels in Bangkok 2014
- The best places to stay on Ko Chang, Thailand
- The changing face of Khao San Road
- Where to stay on Koh Rong Samloem
- Travel with kids (7)
- Opinion & advice (16)
- All stories
- 10 reasons to do an adventure tour
- 10 reasons to travel independently
- A year's worth of travel for 2013
- Beach hideaways in Asia
- Christmas and New Years in Southeast Asia
- Do I need reservations for my holiday?
- Evil man of Krabi
- Fifteen tips for a great holiday in Asia
- Getting a cheap airfare to Asia
- Hotels should never charge extra for WiFi
- Long distance buses in Southeast Asia
- Mass tourism in Southeast Asia
- Nine Asian upcountry hideaways
- Planning a Gap Year? Some advice.
- Ten Southeast Asian trips for 2008
- Ten thoughts on ten years with Travelfish
- How do I? (11)
- All stories
- Bangkok to Ko Samui, Pha Ngan & Tao
- Bangkok to Siem Reap
- Catching a train in Thailand
- Catching a train in Vietnam
- Cheap flights with Discovery Airpass
- Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang
- Crossing the Cambodia Laos border
- Ko Chang to Phu Quoc Island
- Siem Reap to Ko Chang
- Stops between Bangkok & Chiang Mai
- Visa run from Thailand to Burma
- Cycling Asia (13)
- All stories
- 24 hours in Bangkok
- An Angkor cycling guide
- An introduction
- Battambang, bamboo trains & guides
- Confessions of a "cheating cyclist"
- Cycles of all sorts
- Ha Long Bay independently
- Ko Samet Vs Pattaya
- Muay Thai night
- Phonsavan and Luang Prabang
- The hills of Vietnam
- The road less travelled
- Tubing in Vang Vieng
- Health and safety (6)
- Money and finance (4)
- Diving guides (6)
- Photo essay (3)
- Guest blog (2)
- General (15)
- All stories
- 10 Christmas days in Asia we're yet to have
- 10 dumb things I've done while travelling
- 34 ways to travel greener
- Asian animal experiences
- Call me Mr Massage Magic
- Chefs Without Borders
- Flying is fun!
- Mr Golden
- On being a travel writer
- Teaching ESL in Asia
- The 211 country honeymoon
- The Boxing Day Tsunami: 5 years on.
- To Teach or Not to Teach
- Travel writing scholarship 2012
- Tuk to the Road Charity ride
- Book reviews (5)
- Interviews (8)
- Explore Bangkok by BTS (18)
- All stories
- Bangkok by skytrain: Ari
- Bangkok by skytrain: Asok
- Bangkok by skytrain: Chid Lom
- Bangkok by skytrain: Chong Nonsi
- Bangkok by skytrain: Mo Chit
- Bangkok by skytrain: National Stadium
- Bangkok by skytrain: On Nut
- Bangkok by skytrain: Phaya Thai
- Bangkok by skytrain: Phloen Chit
- Bangkok by skytrain: Phrom Phong
- Bangkok by skytrain: Ratchadamri
- Bangkok by skytrain: Ratchathewi
- Bangkok by skytrain: Sala Daeng (S2)
- Bangkok by skytrain: Sanam Pao
- Bangkok by skytrain: Saphan Taksin
- Bangkok by skytrain: Siam
- Bangkok by skytrain: Surasak
- Bangkok by skytrain: Thong Lor
Sign up for Travelfish Burp!
Our weekly wrap on Southeast Asian travel.
Click here to see a recent newsletter.