During my recent trip to Cambodia (see posts here
) we stayed in the Victoria
, and I wanted to share my experience there with you. There are a dizzying number of hotels in Siem Reap, and we found it very hard to choose a place to stay – until my Aunt recommended us the Victoria Angkor Resort & Spa. She has very good taste in these things so we went with it.
It’s a fairly sizeable hotel, with rooms in a U shape around a central pool. There is a spa on site, as well as a bar which also serves light meals, a restaurant, and a fancy upscale restaurant. There’s also a boutique in the lobby, which sells silk clothes and accessories and some other tasteful souvenirs.
The Victoria is located to the North side of Siem Reap, and is about 5 minutes out of the centre of town via tuk-tuk. It’s about a 20 minute drive to Angkor Wat itself.
~ The staff were exceptionally friendly and helpful. It’s the best service I’ve ever received in a hotel (maybe anywhere?) in my entire life, hands down. Just incredible.
~ The pool was a delight. It was warm enough that getting in wasn’t a shock, but still very refreshing. It was actually a lot bigger than it looks in this picture, and I loved being surrounded by all the trees. Reading poolside was so serene and it was the perfect pick-me-up after a day spent temple-hopping. Again, a helpful pool attendant could cater for your every whim, or just have a get-to-know-you chat.
~ Every night we were given a little present from housekeeping in our room (sorry for the shocking photo quality… this was really cute and not scary at all, I swear). One day we’d get a handmade keyring – with Nice Puppet, no less – and another day would be a scarf, or a little bag of local pepper. It was such a lovely touch and I treasure all the little gifts we were given.
~ The breakfast was one of the most extensive I’ve ever seen. It just kept going! There was hot traditional English, continental, cereal, toast, smoothies, pancakes, waffles, omelettes, sushi, rice porridge, salad, as well as infinite types of toppings for all of the above, a huge number of teas, juices, even cava. It was a little overwhelming, and I don’t feel like I made sufficient use of it due to the gluten free issue (see below) and also the fact that the weather was so hot, I just couldn’t manage it!
~ The hotel was decorated in a colonial style, which is quite unusual and really beautiful. The fixtures and fittings were all of the highest quality, and there were beautiful decorative features scattered throughout the hotel. Like this cauldron of intricately folded flowers. The lift was pretty cool, if slightly scary…
You literally travel in that little wooden box. I know.
~ Every time you return to the hotel they give you a cold towel to cool down. Amazing. Also, we got a welcome drink on arrival which was absolutely delicious!
~ There was a great range of helpful things provided in the room like mosquito repellent, umbrellas, and the full range of toiletries. There was also fresh fruit and a beautiful flower arrangement, changed regularly.
~ It’s a one stop shop; they can arrange anything for you here, from excursions to restaurants to late night ice cream in your room. Not that I’d know.
~ This is a high end hotel, and as such the activities are tailored towards a high end budget. For example, when we said we wanted to explore the temples, the hotel booked us a guide, car and driver whereas we were expecting to just get around by tuk-tuk. We initially only booked all this for one day, and planned to switch to tuk-tuk thereafter.
However, we had such a good experience with the car, driver and most of all our guide that we opted to stay with the lot of them for the entire 3 days. I was worried it was going to bankrupt us but once it was all converted back into pounds it really wasn’t too bad, given what a phenomenal experience we had.
Also, the hotel recommended us a restaurant to go to in town which was absolutely delicious, but on the expensive side (for the area). So, if you’re on a strict budget, you may want to be careful when taking the hotel’s suggestion on things like tours and restaurants.
~ The corridors of the hotel are open air, and therefore not air conditioned. Generally this wasn’t a problem, but if you just needed to pop down to the lobby for something (also not air conditioned) it was frustrating to get a bit sweaty doing so.
~ The hotel restaurant was fine, but not exceptional. We opted for the mid-range restaurant and it was basically deserted, and really quite expensive. It had the choice of French or (pricey) Khmer cuisine, and it seemed silly to come all this way to eat French food. So, I’d recommend leaving the hotel to eat. Even with the cost of a tuk tuk it’s way cheaper than staying in.
~ The hotel wasn’t fantastic for gluten free. It did provide gluten free bread at breakfast, but on the last day I discovered they’d been toasting it in the normal (very crumby) toaster. Whomp, whomp. However, I think that’s reflective of the vast majority of Cambodia – nobody really understood gluten free, in my experience. I just did my best and accepted that I’d get glutened at some/many points.
~ The bathroom is separated from the bedroom room by a colonial style slatted door. It’s not the most soundproof thing in the world, let’s put it that way.
~ There’s no fridge in the room for you to use. There is a minibar, but I was afraid to use it for personal things in case they charged me. Looking back, I don’t think they would have, but there wasn’t a great deal of spare space, anyway.
~ This isn’t actually a bad thing, I just wanted to show you the cool fish ponds they had in the lobby. There was also a little pen with tiny native crocodiles living in it! Actually that’s probably a bad thing if you don’t like crocs.
Things to consider
~ We travelled out of season, when the hotels had lots of empty rooms in them and rates were low, but the temperatures were in the high 30’s every day. If you can walk around temples in these conditions all day, or even part of the day, then I think this is a great time to go as it’s significantly less packed. It was fine for us, with plenty of breaks and water stops, but be aware! Also be aware that not everywhere you go will have air conditioning, eg restaurants, bars etc, and it’s not particularly cool at night, so if that would put you off then perhaps come at a different time of year
~ If you don’t know much about the general principles and/or roots and history of Buddhism and Hinduism, you may want to brush up your knowledge before you travel. We learned a lot from our guide but I think we’d have understood the architecture and customs a lot better with a bit more prior knowledge.
~There is a heavy French influence in this hotel, and all the staff speak excellent French. If you’re a French-speaking traveller, you may feel at home here.
~ There are bitey things around but with use of DEET spray and in-room insect repellent mentioned above, we remained bite free (hurrah!).
~ If you don’t like small reptiles, don’t stay here. There are geckos which scuttle up and down the corridor walls at night, what with them being open air and all, and perform the job of a really cute creepy crawly eradicator. I found them adorable, and named the ones near our room (including a really quite sizeable lizard we saw on a wall once, which we called Bertha). We never had any actually in our room, much to my disappointment, but if you’re squeamish about this then you may not enjoy roaming the corridors at night as much as I did. Apparently housekeeping do perform a gecko removal service though, so don’t be totally put off.
~ This isn’t the place for you if you’ve come for all night ragers, if you want to meet people, or if you want to walk everywhere (the pavements in the areas around the hotel are quite iffy/non-existent). It’s not for you if you like sleek, modern properties or want to be located super-centrally.
~ The hotel will pick you up and drop you back to the airport, for a fee (quite reasonable in Western standards, expensive compared to a tuk-tuk) but it was nice to be whisked away from the chaos of the airport by a friendly face (who also had a cool towel and chilled mineral water for us in the air-conditioned car!).
~ The tap water isn’t safe to drink in Cambodia. So, don’t drink it, and brush your teeth with bottled water. I got used to it surprisingly quickly.
~ If you’re just staying in and around Siem Reap, you shouldn’t need anti-malarials. However if you’re travelling any more widely, seek medical advice.
~ Everything works in USD. Bring lots of small denominations with you, as a tuk-tuk ride will typically be around $2-3, and tips for meals etc will be a similar amount. Our hotel was able to change bigger bills for us, which was really handy.
Overall, I’d give the Victoria Angkor Resort & Spa a 4.5 stars out of 5. It only drops half a point due to the expensive in-house dining options – everything else was absolutely top notch and I thoroughly enjoyed our stay.
Have you ever been to Siem Reap? Where did you stay?