A top pick
A highlight on Serendipity, The Cove’s wood and thatch bungalows on the hillside are tucked in between palm and banana trees providing a relaxed, jungly retreat. Each bungalow has a private balcony with a hammock, table and chair, all the better to take in those stunning sea views, and perhaps a cocktail or two from the bar below.
If you’re craving a little more company, then the bar on the rocks is a lovely hang-out, whether you’re staying here or not. There you’ll find genuinely friendly and helpful staff, and the kind of relaxed vibe inevitably engendered by sea ozone, the sound of waves breaking gently on the rocks, the birds in the trees and an ice-cold glass of Cambodia beer in your hand. This may be a good time to ponder the crowded mash-up on Ochheuteal Beach below, slide deeper into your lounger and enjoy the relative tranquility.
When hunger kicks in, they offer a mixed Khmer and western menu. Pizzas from a wood-fired oven, and the lok lak and spring rolls are recommended.
The stretch of rocks that extends to the north of this section of Serendipity reaches around a small headland before connecting with Sokha Beach. This is now a Marine Conservation Area – meaning that fishing is restricted in order to protect the fish and corals in the waters below. It’s also a lovely short walk/clamber across the rocks. Do not take any personal belongings with you however as there are little scavengers of the two-legged variety who have shown they are not afraid to be violent when snatching people’s bags and cameras.
The bungalows are wood board, with thatched roofs. They’re a little bit small, intimate an estate agent would say, and darker than your average hotel room romantic in estate agent-speak, but very comfortable nonetheless. And speaking of romantic intimacy, there is one small thing to note. The wooden walls do not provide the greatest sound-proofing; lovers take note. This also means that a dull boom-boom from the beach bars further down can be heard until near dawn, occasionally punctuated by the marginally more effervescent fireworks sold by the hawkers. The normal ones are little more than sad pyro-farts that it would take inhuman quantities of drugs to actually get out a kick out of, unless you’re one of those wonder-filled Pollyannas that everyone secretly loathes. You may also be woken up at 5am by drunk neighbours whose coffee you won’t be able to spike in the morning as they’ll no doubt be sleeping (while it’s quiet) until the next party. Heavy sleepers are not likely to be affected, but light sleepers may prefer somewhere further away from the beach.
All the bungalows have lock boxes, mosquito nets and hot water showers. Newer air-conditioned rooms have private balconies and there are also concrete air-conditioned apartments at the top, which are slightly cheaper. The steps to these are high and steep so they might not be the best option if you’re not feeling up to that.
By Nicky Sullivan
Last updated on 12th February, 2016.
The Travelfish newsletter is sent out every Monday and is jammed full of free advice for travel in Southeast Asia. You can see past issues here.