Long a backpacker favourite, the Magic Sponge was in the throes of extensive renovations when we last visited in early 2016, with an aim of moving up in the world.
Warm and welcoming William, the owner, was good enough to take us around for a sneak-peek, though we won't be able to vouch for the finished result. What we did see though was impressive. He's upscaling the rooms to appeal to a more midrange market, with wide comfortable beds, massive flat-screen internet TVs, in airy rooms. It wasn't possible to get an appreciation of the decor. The bathrooms were beautifully done up, with riverbed tiles on the floor, rainfall showers and a thoroughly modern feel. He's keeping the “premium shared accommodation" (that's fancy for "dorm") so backpackers will still be able to join in the fun, though maybe not if on a very tight budget as his pricing for that is going to go up. He's doing that up too, and we couldn't get in to see it as it was still a total building site.
In the meantime, they're still running events on a weekly basis, and will continue to do so, including open-mic night on Wednesdays, pub quiz on Friday, live music on Saturday. His pool tables look the smoothest we've seen for a long time, and the mini golf course will keep the kids quiet for an hour or two while you enjoy a cocktail in the garden. The friendly bar is a great place to meet people, with regular promotions and activities, including 50 cent happy hour beer. Food portions are generous, and there's the variety of a full Indian menu as well as local favourites like the Kampot pepper steak sandwich. Staff are happy to help you plan your Kampot stay, making recommendations and bookings. William wasn't able to give us an estimate on his prices yet when we visited, so check the website for more information.
Type of room, low and high season prices
Room: Dorm fan cooled, low season: US$6, high season US$6. Notes: 6 bed dorm, no bunks
Room: Dbl fan private bathroom, low season: US$18, high season US$18. Notes: $23 for a larger room
Room: Dbl air-con private bathroom, low season: US$23, high season US$23. Notes: $28 for a larger room
Room: Family room, low season: US$25, high season US$25. Notes: Sleeps four
Off the river, Kampot (near Salt Mine Worker's roundabout)
T: (017) 946 428
Room rates: US$10 to 35