The Victoria Angkor Resort & Spa Review

During my recent trip to Cambodia (see posts here, here and 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.

Good things

~ 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.

Bad things
~ 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?

-Rachel


Linking up with Christine, Sara Bonnie for Travel Tuesday, and with Malinda for Wednesday Wanderlust.
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20 Comments

  1. 21st July 2015 / 11:21

    This looks like a really beautiful hotel, wow! The little gifts sounds so cute too. I stayed in a tiny, family run guesthouse in Siem Reap and it was so lovely, they had a pool and a simple breakfast and the best thing was spending the mornings chatting to the family – the best! Loved Siem Reap so much!!

    • 21st July 2015 / 13:29

      That sounds lovely – I think if I went back, I’d like to go and do a homestay or similar. Now I’ve done the super luxury option (!) it would be nice to do things a little differently. Siem Reap was incredible, I absolutely loved my time there.

  2. Christina Sotherden
    21st July 2015 / 15:11

    That pool looks ah-mazing! Such a pretty hotel and it looks like a great spot to retreat to.

    • 21st July 2015 / 21:48

      It was! I still dream about it sometimes. So lovely and warm, and sometimes there were frangipani flowers floating in it, too. So pretty!

  3. LydiaCLee
    21st July 2015 / 21:27

    We stayed at the Sofitel, which was lovely. I ADORE Siem Reap – we decided, while lounging in hammocks in a bar (while the kids played Uno on the beanbags) that Siem Reap is indeed the coolest city in Asia. I recommend everyone go there – not just for the amazing Angkor Wat, but the bars, restaurants and interesting way all the businesses are helping rebuild the community. From Newleaf bookshop to the fabulous and amazing Phare. It’s just the most fabulous holiday you’ll have – and if you choose right, your tourist money will go into the community.

    • 21st July 2015 / 21:51

      I adored it, too. I mean I could have just camped out in the temples full time, I loved them that much, but the town was pretty special too. We found quite a few local community rebuilding type enterprises as well, and tried to patronise as many as possible. A fair few were closed due to the King’s birthday while we were there, but there was still a good assortment to choose from. You’re right, the community spirit and friendliness in general was unprecedented. I’ve not travelled around Asia much (hoping to change that!) so I’m glad I picked a good place to start!

  4. 22nd July 2015 / 12:09

    Everywhere seems to provide really god service in Siem Reap and I think it is probably because they rely so heavily on tourism to make their money. I cannot remember the name of where we stayed off the top of my head (I should because I am drafting a story about this as we speak!) but it was beautiful, very similar to this hotel, though probably not quite as fancy.
    Thanks for joining in #wednesdaywanderlust

    • 27th July 2015 / 17:33

      I think you’re right – every place we went to had incredible service. And all the hotels looked amazing, to be honest. I think you’d have a job to find somewhere bad to stay! Looking forward to reading your story about Siem Reap 🙂

  5. 22nd July 2015 / 17:13

    Wow really great guide to this hotel! I like getting these honest reviews – I mean you sold me on it, despite the negatives of course! Geckos scare me a bit, but I’d be okay with it (I mean I survived the rain spiders in Africa haha). Also, I love to get a good recommendation for a hotel that isn’t full of crazy partiers! Yay me for being boring and loving to relax and read….not weird, right?

    • 27th July 2015 / 17:22

      I feel like there’s no point being anything but honest, because who does that help? Also it’s a nice way for me to remember what I did and didn’t like, so I can bear it in mind when I book hotels again (hopefully back in Siem Reap!). And nope! Not at all weird! I’ll see you by the pool with a good book!

  6. 22nd July 2015 / 21:40

    What a beautiful hotel, great review! Love all the little presents from housekeeping! What a great souvenir from the hotel.

    • 27th July 2015 / 17:23

      It really was a beautiful hotel. I felt so lucky to be able to stay there. And now whenever I look at my keys I can think about the friendly staff and that beautiful pool!

  7. 22nd July 2015 / 23:24

    That hotel looks so so nice! I’m so used to staying in cheap hostels so I would freak out if I got to stay at this amazing place! Seriously it’s beautiful!

    • 27th July 2015 / 17:24

      It really was so nice! We kept walking around commenting at how lovely everything was. I think other guests who were more used to this level of luxury thought we were strange, but hey. It deserved commenting on!

  8. 23rd July 2015 / 11:35

    Great review! The Victoria looks really lovely. We love Siem Reap. It’s probably our favorite city in Asia. We’ll definitely go back again sometime.

    • 27th July 2015 / 17:26

      I haven’t travelled around much of Asia (yet!), but I fell head over heels in love with Siem Reap. I am definitely keen to visit new places in the hopes of finding other such lovely cities, but I’m also desperate to go back to Siem Reap. It was incredible.

  9. 23rd July 2015 / 12:44

    It sounds like a lovely place, despite the few downsides, perfect for a relaxing holiday. That pool is incredible! And the geckos! So cute! We haven’t seen our backyard ones for a while, it’s been quite cold, they usually pop out at night to say hi and try eat some bugs attracted by the lights.

    Away From The Blue Blog

    • 27th July 2015 / 17:27

      It really was a lovely place. I felt so refreshed by the end of the holiday, despite tramping round all those temples! The pool was medicinal, I swear. I’m jealous you have backyard geckos! That would be so cute. Shame it’s not really warm enough here for that…!

    • 27th July 2015 / 17:30

      We did have an incredible time, and whilst we did splash out while we were there, we had kind of prepared ourselves for it. I absolutely don’t regret it and it was a magical trip!

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