Lodging in Siem Reap

Jun 24th, 2009, 02:48 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 112
Lodging in Siem Reap

Ponheary has recommended two places - Angor Holiday or Seven Candles Guesthouse. We are considering Victoria Angkor Resort and Spa or La Residence d'Angkor, but were wondering if anybody has stayed at one of Ponheary's suggested places. If so, do you think that the Cambodian owned hotels (which are much less expensive) would meet the same standards as the Victoria or La Residence.
roosevelt is offline  
Jun 24th, 2009, 05:59 AM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 153
I just responded to another post, but I will paste/repeat some of it here. You sound like you are in the same position I was in. I could have stayed at the Raffles in a suite for a great price, and other hotels on our trip were all 5-star (e.g., Raffles Le Royale in Phnom Penh, Sofitel in Saigon) but decided to stay at the Seven Candles in Siem Reap and I am so glad that we did. I was there with my two teenage kids and staying at the guesthouse really made the trip. Here's what I just posted in response to another query about using Ponheary for a guide:

"My kids and I just returned 2 days ago from the most amazing trip, which included 5 days with Ponheary. I haven't done a full trip report, but let me just say that she was a terrific guide. My teenage son is really, really into history, including Hindu mythology, etc., and was very impressed with Ponheary's depth of knowledge regarding the temples and the stories depicted in the bas reliefs. She not only gave wonderful tours of the top spots, but took us to some out-of-the-way places that tourists rarely go. My daughter loved trekking through an overgrown jungle path to get to a remote temple gate near a river. By the way, I should let you know that we stayed at the newly-refurbished guesthouse -- Seven Candles -- run by the Ly family and it was perfect (you should know that I generally only stay at 5-stars in SE Asia -- other hotels on this trip were Raffles in Phnom Penh and Sofitel in Saigon, but this was our favorite place by far). The guesthouse was spotless, comfortable, and we loved the evenings hanging out in the common areas with the extended family, especially the lovely young children. It also gave us more time to hear Ponheary's family's amazing story of survival during Khmer Rouge times. I will admit that I was nervous about the guesthouse because the price was so unbelievably cheap! But I had read other information that suggested it would be fine and was very pleasantly surprised -- comfortable beds, quality linens, powerful AC that cooled down right away, hot showers available if we'd wanted them, mini-fridge stocked on our arrival with our favorite drinks, TV that worked well, comfortable common areas with games, books, etc., bikes available, cheap and reliable laundry service (this was a huge bonus for end of a 2 week trip), and I can't remember what else. I should also mention that the highlight of our trip was a visit to the Knar School, which is supported by the PL Foundation, but you need to ask about this if you are interested. Ponheary is extremely professional, on time, always on time and attentive you your requests, and it was obvious that she is highly respected by other guides and officials at the various sights. You cannot go wrong!! And if you haven't already made your firm plans, please consider staying at the guesthouse. We were booked at the Raffles, where my husband gets free suite upgrades due to frequent stay program, and we cancelled so we could fully immerse in the culture. The folks at the guesthouse (managed by Lori who runs a tight ship and it shows) even arranged a birthday cake for my son's 15th birthday! I cannot say enough about our great 5 days in Siem Reap. We've been to about 20 countries in the past 8 years and this was our best trip ever. If you want more info, please feel free to email me. Have a great trip!"

So, there you have it. You can't compare the guesthouse to a 5-star in some ways (no 24 room service, no in-house spa, no breakfast buffet) but it easily met all of my essential requirements for cleanliness, privacy, comfort, safety and convenience. More important, by the time we reached Siem Reap we had had over a hundred hotel employees bowing to us and catering to us at these other places, but it started to feel so anonymous and impersonal. The Seven Candles changed that immediately. When we arrived at the Seven Candles, my son was not feeling well. Lori and Ponheary were so sweet to be waiting to pick us up on arrival, took us back to the rooms where he was thrilled to find cold root beers waiting for him, and a cool room. They are a lovely bunch of people and I couldn't get enough of the conversation. This is what travel is all about, in my opinion -- connecting with a place through its people. The only warning I would give you is to not play Scrabble with these folks unless you want to be thoroughly humbled by having your butt kicked by someone for whom English is a second (or third or even fourth) language! Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or want more info.
TravelTrio is offline  
Jun 24th, 2009, 01:11 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 112
Thank you for your wonderful description of your experience in Siem Reap.
roosevelt is offline  
Jun 24th, 2009, 04:22 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 112
I would be most interested in e-mailing you off-line for more information on this guesthouse. If you could give me an e-mail address where I could reach you, I would appreciate that. Thank you.
roosevelt is offline  
Jun 24th, 2009, 05:46 PM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 1,418
Angkor Holiday is a nice enough place; sort of "business hotel" very serviceable and without fault, but also without much charm.

The Victoria and Residence are both lovely hotels with a lot of charm and of course you pay for that.

The guest house is a guesthouse. A completely different experience, so I guess it all comes down to what you're looking for.
offwego is offline  

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