Before embarking on my first international trip to Thailand and Cambodia in September earlier this year, I spent a lot of time analyzing hotel reviews on online platforms like Agoda and Tripadvisor. After all the effort and time spent, I’d safely assumed that my stay during the two week journey was well taken care of. Now, after having returned from the journey, I feel compelled to write this post as I am slightly disillusioned by these review platforms and believe that an honest review might help other travellers plan their stays in these two countries better.
A friend of mine and I stayed in 6 hotels during our trip and was spread over 3 cities which included Bangkok, Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. I will now move onto my reviews about each of these hotels and a comment between what the trusted online review platforms suggested. Each review will consist of four factors, Location, Quality of Accommodation, Staff and Service and Food end with a suggestion that I think might help you decide on whether to opt for the hotel or not.
- Aphrodite Inn, Bangkok, Thailand
Address: 61-65 Rachadamri Road, Pathumwan, Siam
Agoda Review: 8.4 FantasticReview of Location: The hotel scores really high marks on the location factor for shopping enthusiasts being located in the middle of the shopping district. Shopping destinations like the Central World mall, Siam Square, Siam Paragon and Platinum Fashion Mall are all at an easy walking distance from the hotel.Review of Quality of Accommodation: The hotel lobby and reception area are small but welcoming and that’s the way we prefer it. The rooms were cosy and very clean with all our basic needs catered to. The bathroom was extremely clean and we had hot water whenever we needed it. Our stay was comfortable and did not give us any reason to complain.
Review of Staff and Service: The staff was mostly very polite and eager to assist whenever we needed help or suggestions. They even helped us cancel our hotel booking at Chiang Rai when heavy rain and a damaged railway track played spoil sport and made us change our plan. One aspect of this hotel that was exceptionally pleasing was the promptness of room service when we asked for it.
Review of the Food: The breakfast at the hotel was simple and good. Satisfying for sure, but not exceptional. A definite suggestion would be to be bolder and try the innumerable food options available around the hotel.
Suggestion: A good place to stay at for a reasonable price. Offers good value for money but the food isn’t anything to write home about. The receptionist multi-tasks occasionally and so you might find her missing at times!
Personal Rating: 8.0 Very Good
- Smart Suites, Bangkok, Thailand
Address: 43/17 Sukhumvit 11Agoda Review: 7.2 GoodReview of Location: Once again, this hotel too scores decently on the location factor. At a convenient distance from shopping areas and watering holes, the hotel becomes very attractive considering the fact that the Nana sky train station is located close by. Sukhumvit is one of the liveliest parts of Bangkok and Smart Suites hotel lets you live right in the middle of all the action.
Review of Quality of Accommodation: One word that would rightly describe this would be, Disappointing! The hotel lobby and reception area were crowded with furniture and hotel staff lazing around. The elevator was out of order and so we had to lug our backpacks to our room on the 2nd floor. The room was very ordinary to put it mildly and the bathroom had tacky fittings and sporadic hot water supply. The frosted glass door to the bathroom that could not be latched only made things worse.
Review of Staff and Service: The staff here could not be blamed as when compared to the mediocre state of the hotel itself, they shone. The reception was manned by a very friendly receptionist who made things look a little better. We only stayed here for one night and so there wasn’t much to be said about the staff.
Review of the Food: The hotel has a coffee shop but we avoided it as the location of the hotel allowed us to opt for food options that were most definitely better.
Suggestion: Stay at Smart Suites only if you are desperate to stay in Sukhumvit and do not have other options. The rooms here are avoidable and score low on the value-for-money factor.
Personal Rating: 6.0 Average
- Villa Langka Boutique Hotel, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Address: 14, St 282, Beung Keng Kang,Agoda Review: 8.4 FantasticReview of Location: If you are a traveller looking for a beautiful hotel in a quiet, secluded part of Phnom Penh, look no further.
Review of Quality of Accommodation: This was one of the hotels that we thought had received the most accurate reviews on most online review platforms. The hotel lobby was beautiful and the pool-side restaurant was all that we had hoped for. The contemporary design of the room interiors and the very comfortable beds only added to the feel-good factor. The bathroom was large and exceptionally clean. Though we stayed here for only one night, I would definitely recommend this hotel to every traveller.
Review of Staff and Service: The staff at Villa Langka were very friendly and genuinely helpful. They made sure that our short stay was comfortable and we had no complains. We experienced Khmer hospitality at its best here.
Review of the Food: The food at the restaurant was delicious and well presented. The service at the restaurant kept us smiling and asking for more. We had to leave the hotel at 7 am and as promised, a well planned and complete breakfast buffet had been laid out for us at 6 am.
Suggestion: Villa Langka most definitely promises a comfortable stay in a beautiful boutique hotel and does not disappoint. Guests here are assured of a memorable and leisurely time.
Personal Rating: 8.5 Fantastic
- Soria Moria Boutique Hotel, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Address: Wat Bo Road, Siem Reap Central AreaAgoda Review: 9.0 FantasticReview of Location: Located in a quiet part of Siem Reap, this hotel is perfectly placed to give you the peace and quiet of a boutique hotel and yet keeps you well within walking distance of all the action that Siem Reap’s night life has to offer. We almost always chose to walk when in Siem Reap and this hotel made it very convenient.
Review of Quality of Accommodation: The hotel lobby is large and well equipped. There is a lot to read and do in this area and it also exhibits literature about the charitable and responsible nature of the establishment. The decently large rooms here may not be very plush but were comfortable and warm. Everything that we could have needed to make our stay comfortable was available in the room and the bathroom was decent too. The fact that the hotel was involved in working towards improving the condition of local life made us feel much better during our stay here.
Review of Staff and Service: Soria Moria is an employee-owned socially-driven hotel and to achieve gender equality, females hold more than half of the managerial and supervising positions. The hotel staff was congenial and always ready to help. The service at this hotel was by far the best that we experienced during our trip.
Review of the Food: The food at the Fusion Kitchen, the hotel’s restaurant was great and this was where we got our first chance to sample authentic Khmer cuisine. The friendly staff at the restaurant made the experience better by giving us suggestions on what to taste and the food did not disappoint us.
Suggestion: If you believe in responsible travel and would like to support local communities when staying in Siem Reap, Soria Moria is the best option to take. Soria Moria recently won the ‘Best in Community Engagement and Development’ award at the Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards 2012.
Personal Rating: 9.0 Fantastic
- S2S Boutique Resort, Bangkok
Address: 21/1 Soi Ratchatapan or Soi Mo Leang (Old), Makasan, Ratchaprarop Road, PratunamAgoda Review: 6.8 PleasantReview of Location: It took us some time to find this hotel and we thought that the location was particularly desolate. Stay at this hotel only if you don’t mind walking a bit before you get anywhere and for a solo female traveller, this is a definite must-avoid.
Review of Quality of Accommodation: We had booked this hotel for the last two nights of our trip as we were running short of money and were okay with compromising and staying at a basic hotel. This hotel honestly is an example of the lowest standards that a hotel can ever fall to. The rooms were dark, dingy and smelt of mould. The bathroom was dirty and we chose not to use it at all. The AC wasn’t functioning and the bed linen was filthy and stained. There wasn’t a single thing about the room that we thought was tolerable!
Review of Staff and Service: The staff at S2S reflected the hotels condition. They provided no assistance and neither did they bother to be friendly or welcoming. Our complaints were ignored and they did not offer a refund even when we chose to leave the hotel after one night’s stay even though we had paid for two nights.
Review of the Food: This bit isn’t even worth reviewing.
Suggestion: The S2S calls itself a ‘boutique resort’ and if there was ever a lie, THAT WAS IT! Stay miles away from this horrendous hotel!
Personal Rating: 0.0 Disgusting
- Arnoma Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand
Address: 99 Rachadamri Road, Pathumwan, SiamAgoda Review: 7.8 Very GoodReview of Location: Location-wise, it doesn’t get any better than this. Arnoma Hotel is located adjacent to the Big C mall and opposite the very popular Central World mall. If shopping is what you are looking for, this is one of the best options that you will have.
Review of Quality of Accommodation: This was by far the most expensive hotel option that we had chosen during the trip and for the cost, the hotel came pretty close to being satisfactory. The only reason for us to choose this hotel was that we had been desperate to move out of the appalling S2S Boutique Resort Hotel and we were desperate to spend our last night in affordable comfort! The lobby and the reception of the Arnoma are like any other big hotel grand and somewhat intimidating (personal opinion!). The room was large and the beds extra-bouncy and comfortable. The bathroom was a bit of a let-down but not that bad. On the whole, this was a good way to end our time in Bangkok.
Review of Staff and Service: Three words to describe the staff, polite, friendly and helpful.
Review of the Food: We did not have the courage to walk into the hotels famed restaurants and chose to sample the very-tempting street food for the last time before we left the country. As far as the reviews go, the restaurants at the Arnoma do serve some lip-smacking food.
Suggestion: If you have the money to spend, this might be an option to look at. My suggestion, there are many good hotels available at much better rates than the Arnoma and if you do intend to splurge, then don’t feel shy, stay at the Amari!
Personal Rating: 7.5 Good
To sum it up, all these hotels, some great and some terrible, made my trip a memorable one. I would most-definitely suggest that it would be best for every traveller to make their own mistakes and learn from each one of them. If you did wish to find some help with planning your trip to these two amazing countries, these reviews might help a bit.
Hope this post helps you when you plan your trip to Thailand or Cambodia. This was completely based on personal experience and there may be others who have experienced these in a different light. If you do have a different opinion on one or all of these reviews, please do comment here.