Dorms with a pool
There’s a good vibe here, no matter what time of day you wander in, with a large hang out area and a pool (a pool!) tucked in behind a bright white wall. The smart, spotless building looks like anything but a hostel, but that’s what it is, and they seem to lay on enough entertainment as though to prove the point. Two blocks from Wat Phnom to the north of Phnom Penh, it's no more than a $2 tuk tuk drive to most places around town.
Eighty8 has a mixture of dorm rooms and private rooms, most ensuite but some with a shared bathroom. The large communal area downstairs includes a bar, restaurant and swimming pool, with free WiFi, a big TV and a pool table to pass the time. Prices start at $6.40 for a dorm bed going up to $28 for a private air-con double room. The differentials in between depend on how far away you are from the bar, and its attendant noise.
Reception offer tours, bus ticket bookings and laundry -- you pay a little extra for the convenience but it frees you up to explore the city, or lounge in a hammock.
The main accommodation is dorm rooms, with six or eight backpackers sharing a room, with air-con and an ensuite toilet and shower. There are mixed dorms and rooms exclusively for girls, although these get booked up quickly. The bunk beds are extra wide, with deep mattresses, and freshly made every day. Beds have their own lights and sockets and custom-built lockers are designed to fit the mother of all backpacks, so even if you brought the kitchen sink, it can be safely locked away. Private rooms can be very large, though we weren’t able to check on these the last time we visited.
The cheapest option here is a dorm bed. With some determined hunting you might find a private room for a similar price elsewhere in the city, but it would likely be far grubbier, and certainly wouldn't come with a pool. Couples and those who prefer uninterrupted sleep will benefit from spending a few extra dollars for the privacy of an unshared room, at a price that is difficult to match for the facilities available.
Feeling more boutique hotel than backpacker shabby chic, the private rooms are best booked ahead. The biggest dent in your wallet is the cost of food -- Eighty8 sources meat from refrigerated butchers and washes ingredients in filtered water which bumps up prices. Some guests prefer the abundant cheaper street eats and local restaurants on the road outside -- the hygiene standards may be lower, but so are the bills.
Eighty8 is popular with younger backpackers, who appreciate the regular parties with guest DJs and $1 draft beer. Solo travellers will find plenty of people to hook up with and there's usually someone around the pool who might fancy a chat. The relaxed and friendly vibe means that some guests don't move on as quickly as they planned, finding there's more to do in Phnom Penh than they first thought.
Most alternatives in the immediate area are guesthouses aimed at the Khmer market, or hotels with price tags that are definitely in the flashpacker region. If Eighty8's full but you still want to be sociable, try Happy 11 Backpackers, or head for the White Rabbit Guesthouse on Street 294 for cheap-as-chips dorm beds.
Check rates at Eighty8 Backpackers - rated 7.7/10 on Agoda.com.
Check rates at Eighty8 Backpackers on Booking.com.
By Nicky Sullivan
Last updated on 21st October, 2016.