The Zuri Kumarakom, a slice of romantic paradise!

Early last year, I was a guest at The Zuri Kumarakom for a day. To be honest, it might have been too short a stay for me to write a review about any hotel, but I decided to make an exception this one time because this wasn’t just any hotel… this was THE ZURI KUMARAKOM!

I have stayed at a few luxury hotels in the past even though on most days I would choose the chatty confines of a hostel dorm over the quiet plush comforts of a star hotel. But every once in a while, when you have been traveling quite a bit, you feel the urge to pamper yourself. Well, whether tired or not, five star pampering is always welcome, especially when it is from the heart of God’s Own Country.

As part of the first KeralaBlogExpress, I was part of the group of travel bloggers that was chosen to stay at the impressive Zuri Kumarakom. Though our time there was really really short, from 6 pm on day 1 to around 11 am the next day, it was enough for most of us to realize that we had just experienced hospitality of the highest order. The team at the hotel led by the General Manager Mr. Sarat Valsraj left no stone unturned to ensure that we had the most incredible time at the hotel.

Amongst the many amazing luxuries offered by the hotel, I managed to try a few which included viewing the famed sunset over the Vembanad lake from the hotel’s jetty, a swim in the surreal pool, an ayurvedic massage session, a four course dinner and of course an amazing night spent in one of the hotel’s lavish cottages. In more ways than one, I think the hotel would be the perfect honeymoon destination. The Zuri Kumarakom, like its name (Zuri in Swahili means ‘far beyond expectation’), was a hotel that had given me a taste of luxury far beyond my expectations!

Here are the top 5 reasons why I think that The Zuri Kumarakom is a Slice of Paradise that you must definitely visit with your partner.

THE ARCHITECTURE & THE SPACES WITHIN

The Zuri Kumarakom kerala resort & Spa (5)

The building that houses the hotel reception and lobby.

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The reception lobby and guest lounge area.

THE LAGOON

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The lagoon that connects to the magnificent Vembanad lake.

THE MAYA SPA

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The couple massage area at the Maya Spa.

The jacuzzi at the spa.

The jacuzzi at the spa.

THE ELEPHANT POOL

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The pool that looks over the lagoon with the Vembanad lake in the distance.

MAYA SPA

The Maya Spa and the Elephant pool at night.

THE DREAM COTTAGES

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Some of the cottages have their own private plunge pools with a view of the Vembanad lake!

A cottage with a balcony opening out to the lagoon.

A cottage with a balcony opening out to the lagoon.

A private plunge pool in one of the cotages.

A private plunge pool in one of the cotages.

 

*All the photographs posted here have been provided by the hotel management on my request as I did not have enough time to shoot photographs of the hotel during my stay. Though my stay at the hotel was complimentary, the thoughts and views in this post are my own.

Thiruvananthapuram: An Experience of Wellness, Leisure & Luxury.

Kerala, a destination known across the world as a top travel destination has arguably been endowed with natural diversity and character unlike any other destination in India. The tag of being called God’s Own Country stands justified to everyone who has had the chance of having visited this land that very recently was described as ‘One of the ten paradises in the world’ by National Geographic Traveller.

What really makes this beautiful region standout is the unrivalled standard of hospitality that they offer as a host. Pioneers in India at realizing the value of the treasure trove that they were fortunate to call home and making Kerala into a leading holiday destination, the Kerala Tourism Department and the many individual hotels and resorts that have sprouted over the years across the state are constantly redefining and improving what can only be described as the Kerala Experience!

Being someone who chooses to travel as a backpacker, the overwhelming hospitality extended by four of Thiruvananthapuram’s top resorts over a span of two days was an experience that I wouldn’t mind every now and then. From viewing the sunset from the balcony of an uber luxury property to rejuvenating yourself with a traditional Ayurvedic massage, the options for one to feel special and pampered are far too many.

Visiting the Estuary Island Resort, the Poovar Island Resort, the Leela Kovalam and the Somatheeram & Manaltheeram Ayurveda Resorts as one of the Kerala Blog Express travel bloggers gave me a glimpse into four very special and unique getaways for the weary traveller.

ESTUARY ISLAND, POOVAR
www.estuaryisland.com

Our hosts for the first couple of days, Estuary Island stood out for its scenic location and the view of the Arabian Sea. The short fifteen minute boat rides with coconut palms and a variety of birds for company, the time spent relaxing in the pool, the prompt service and the amicable disposition of the staff and the time spent in the evening sitting next to the water sipping on chilled beer and chatting with fellow travel bloggers; time spent at the resort was more than enjoyable.

Estuary Island Resort at Poovar
Estuary Island Resort at Poovar

POOVAR ISLAND RESORT, POOVAR
www.poovarislandresorts.com

Invited by the resort for lunch, I only spent a few hours at the Poovar Island Resort. Within that time, a couple of things at the resort stood out noticeably. The floating guest rooms with undiluted views of the sea and the serene ambience of the Ayurveda Centre seemed to be the features that would get me to visit this resort again.

Poovar Island Resort

Poovar Island Resort

SOMATHEERAM & MANALTHEERAM AYURVEDA RESORTS, CHOWARA
www.somatheeram.in / www.manaltheeram.com

Pioneers and present day world leaders in the Ayurveda resort segment, Somatheeram and Manaltheeram Ayurveda have been providing traditional healthcare and wellness treatments to guests since 1985. Built on hilly terrain with the boundary on one side resting on the edge of a cliff, the rustic vernacular architecture and the panoramic view of the sea available to the rooms probably help in the process of rejuvenation.

Somatheeram & Manaltheeram Ayurveda Resort

Somatheeram & Manaltheeram Ayurveda Resort

THE LEELA, KOVALAM
http://www.theleela.com/locations/kovalam

The plan was to visit the hotel and view the famed sunset of the west coast. Now the honest fact was that I had seen beautiful sunsets every day since the Kerala Blog Express began and I wasn’t too excited about another hotel and yet another sunset! But this turned out to be very different. The fact that we had the most beautiful and luxurious seats in the house made everything feel better. The dying light of the setting sun shimmering on the surface of the infinity pool, the long dramatic shadows cast onto the texture stone architecture and the Mediterranean themed verandahs; the setting was perfect and so was the evening. Every frame had magically transformed into a breathtaking surreal painting.

The Leela, Kovalam

The Leela, Kovalam

A walk through the Pitchandikulam Forest in Auroville

Auroville has been a day trip or at the most a weekend destination for most people. My association with the place began many years back and it has now become like a second home to me. One of the reasons that drew me towards Auroville was that, every time I visited, it was never difficult to make new friends or find a smiling face on people I’d never met before (something that I definitely miss in the city!).

Fabian and Elvira's beautiful 'off-the-grid' home.

Fabian and Elvira’s ‘off-the-grid’ home.

Over the years, I’ve made many friends there but I could never write a word about Auroville without mentioning Fabian, his family and Michael. Friends who have always welcomed me with open arms. Whether it was letting me use their work space or being very gracious hosts to me, these guys have always been there for me. I guess I’ve been lucky to have some really good friends who have always opened their homes to me and made me feel very comfortable.

But then Auroville, to me, is a lot more than all that. Whether it was the first time I spent time inside the magnificent Matrimandir or the time I’ve spent sitting within the minimal zen-like interiors of the Integrated Learning Center (ILC), I found peace there.

Thanks to the fact that Fabian was building his new ‘off-the-grid’ sustainable home, I got a chance to discover a new place of quiet within Auroville. His house was being built inside the beautiful 70 acre Pitchandikulam Forest community which is a complete ecosystem in itself with insects, birds, reptiles and more than 800 species of plants.

One of the pilot reforestation projects undertaken by Auroville in 1973, Pitchandikulam acts an educational site with the Bioresource Centre there providing focus for teaching restoration ecology, environmental science and the identification and use of medicinal plants. Permission to visit the community is primarily limited to volunteers, interning students and ‘citizens’ of Auroville who contribute to the research and reforestation work that is undertaken at the community.

As a guest, I was lucky to be allowed a walk through the forest and this turned out to be nothing short of an invigorating experience. Pieces of wildlife art strategically placed along the path attempt to provide information about the species that inhabit this pristine habitat. The cast iron ‘snake’ bench, the unbelievably real-looking stone sculptures or the small signages below trees and shrubs giving out details about them, every piece of art here is meant to educate. The distinctive high-quality wildlife art created by the Pitchandikulam Art Studio can also be seen at Adyar Poonga and Marina Beach in Chennai. The artists here work on commissioned projects with clients to create cost effective and visually striking artwork.

Cast iron 'snake' bench.

Cast iron ‘snake’ bench.

Realistic wildlife art in stone.

Realistic wildlife art in stone.

Educational art pieces in stone.

Educational art pieces in stone.

Informative signages placed under trees.

Informative signages placed under trees.

What makes this forest even more special is the fact that this is a living example of the fact that honest effort and persistence can provide overwhelming results. REFORESTATION PROJECTS CAN ACTUALLY BE SUCCESSFUL IF EXECUTED EARNESTLY! Like the whole of Auroville, the land on which Pitchandikulam forest exists used to be absolutely barren and devoid of life. In just four decades, consistent protection and care has resulted in a lush green forest where it is now normal to see brilliantly coloured insects tirelessly going about their busy daily routines and chameleons unabashedly flaunting their phenomenal camouflage skills.

Small clearings in the forest act as pause points.

Small clearings in the forest act as pause points.

A place to sit and enjoy the quiet.

A place to sit and enjoy the quiet.

A view from above the canopy.

A view from above the canopy.

The forest also houses a demonstration nursery with a collection of herbs and other medicinal plants. With more than 40,000 seedlings of both, Tropical Dry Evergreen Forest (TDEF) species and medicinal plants, the nursery run by Pitchandikulam Forest Consultants is a commercial unit that provides logistics and support to manifest eco-restoration projects at many locations in Tamil Nadu.

The nursery at Pitchandikulam.

The nursery at Pitchandikulam.

Volunteering opportunities in forest ecology, ecological restoration, ethnomedicinal, educational and community outreach work are available to interested and qualified candidates. To apply, visit the Pitchandiculam Forest website.

Just one piece of advice though, THIS IS NOT A ‘TOURIST ATTRACTION’ and unless you are a volunteer or have prior permission to visit, you may be denied entry into the community.

The Angkor Complex – A Photographic Journey (Part 1)

Cambodia and a visit to the Angkor temple complex had been on the top of my travel destination wishlist for a very long time. So when opportunity knocked in late 2012, I wasn’t going to let it pass!

The complex seems to transform into a time travel machine taking you back to an age where grandeur and opulence were the only brushes to paint with. Architecture that narrated stories of great success and wealth, a mid-monsoon green landscape brimming with towering trees that had witnessed time itself ageing and an almost meditative sense of calm make Angkor a must-visit destination.

Whether it was walking through the corridors surrounded by the weather-beaten intricate work in stone or sitting at the top of the Bayon temple staring out into the ocean of tree canopies, the time spent there was filled with a million moments of unbelievable brilliance. This was much better than I had ever imagined it to be.

In this, the first part of a two post series, I am sharing some of the photographs that were captured during this trip. Though photographs could never do justice and translate the actual experience of being within the time ravaged confines of the ancient Angkor complex, hope these photographs convince you to plan a trip that I can probably guarantee will be one of the best you’ve ever been on!

Angkor Wat

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Temple of the King (Cobra) – Sri Peralassery Subrahmanya Temple

There is something about temples that appeals to me despite my being an atheist. The smells, the texture of the walls, an ancient feel, the age-old rituals and at times, the brilliant architecture, all of these create a very stimulating sensory experience.

I have generally been more enticed by temples that are from an age gone by, the new ones not so much. This is probably not as much of a rule as it is a yardstick for me to decide on whether or not to visit a temple. While giving in to this interest, I recently decided to revisit one of the temples that I have visited many times in the past (before I was allowed to be an atheist!).

The Peralassery Sri Subrahmanya Temple is located around 16 kms south of Kannur city on the Kannur-Kuthuparamba road. Considered as an ancient temple, it is popularly believed that this place of worship was built by Lord Rama himself. The presiding deity of the temple is the serpent form of Lord Subrahmanya and so when inside the temple, one can view many idols of the King Cobra. This majestic snake is considered holy and eggs are the main offering.

The temple ‘Chira’ or stepped pond/tank, positioned just outside the temple entrance, is a structure of impressive scale. Visitors/devotees to the temple make it a point to wash take a dip here before entering the temple. An important annual attraction is the eight day Kodiyettam festival that is celebrated in the month of December and the festivities have been drawing thousands of visitors here every year.

In short, if you are passing by, you might most definitely find a visit to this temple worthwhile.

Here are some photographs from my last visit to the temple.

Peralassery Sri Subrahmanya Temple

Shops outside the temple complex.

Peralassery Sri Subrahmanya Temple

The Chira or the stepped temple pond/tank – Pic 1.

Peralassery Sri Subrahmanya Temple

The Chira or the stepped temple pond/tank – Pic 2.

Peralassery Sri Subrahmanya Temple

The Chira or the stepped temple pond/tank – Pic 3.

Peralassery Sri Subrahmanya Temple

Entrance to the temple building.

Peralassery Sri Subrahmanya Temple

The temple building.

Peralassery Sri Subrahmanya Temple

The beautiful banyan tree inside the temple complex.

Peralassery Sri Subrahmanya Temple

Beautiful stone idols of the King Cobra.

Peralassery Sri Subrahmanya Temple

Devotees worship the many idols of the King Cobra that are placed near the entrance.

Peralassery Sri Subrahmanya Temple

A tiny brass idol of the King Cobra looks over the entrance.

Peralassery Sri Subrahmanya Temple

The brass multi-leveled main lamp at the temple entrance.

Peralassery Sri Subrahmanya Temple

The main lamp has a tortoise as the base and a rooster at the top.

Peralassery Sri Subrahmanya Temple

The Lamp with the Eternal Flame. The flame of this lamp has never been put off!

Peralassery Sri Subrahmanya Temple

A devotee catches a nap at the entrance of the stepped pond/tank.

Night Markets of Siem Reap, Cambodia

After having spent a slightly exhausting day aboard a boat exploring the Tonle Sap and the floating village it supports, the prospect of spending the second half of the day exploring the exciting night life of Siem Reap seemed a little demanding. But this was our first visit to the city and we couldn’t have missed being a part of the night madness that grips this serene-by-the-day destination.

We’d checked ourselves into the Soria Moria Boutique hotel (thesoriamoria.com) which was an obvious choice being an employee-owned hotel with serious interest in promoting sustainable tourism. This may not have been the most economical choice or the even the best hotel (in terms of comfort) to stay at, but the cheerful staff and the great service added to the satisfaction of knowing that we were doing our bit by giving back to the local community in a small way. The Soria Moria is most definitely a highly recommended place to stay when visiting Siem Reap.

The walk from the hotel to the night market took us about 10 minutes and the weariness was wiped out the moment we passed a compound, the fence of which had the lyrics of the famous John Lennon number ‘Imagine’. We knew we were in the right place and that the evening would not be a disappointment for sure!

John Lennon's song 'Imagine' pops up like a pleasant surprise on a street side in Siem Reap.

The Siem Reap night markets and Pub Street were a massive attack on the senses. A multitude of stalls selling thousands of eclectic souvenirs, foot massage stalls with smiling masseuses promising the best massages in the world, drug peddlers appearing from the shadows trying to identify prospective customers, scantily clad prostitutes gesturing at tourists provocatively, food stalls & restaurants filling the air with mesmerizing smells, theme-based restaurants advertising the Apsara dance performances that are ever-so-popular and people from across the world living in the moment having a great time jumping in and out of the many pubs that come alive with the sounds of loud music and constant chatter. Life, past sun down, in Siem Reap couldn’t have been more contradicting when compared to the serene and at times depressing scenes witnessed during the day.

The experience of an evening spent amidst this exhilarating madness needs to be felt to be believed. The impact probably gets exaggerated by the fact that the other popular attractions of Siem Reap, like the Tonle Sap and the Angkor temple complex, mostly evoke a sense of tranquility.

A piece of advice though for travellers looking to pick up souvenirs here, the prices here are much higher than in Bangkok and a lot of the products that you see here are cheap counterfeits (probably bought from the markets in Bangkok!) . If you are travelling on a budget then the best way to experience the night life here is to browse through the souvenir stalls without buying much and eating food from the street side stalls that sell some great tasting delicacies at affordable prices. Beer is cheap in Siem Reap and one can get a pint of local ‘Angkor’ beer for 50 cents. One of the messages painted on a restaurant wall on Pub Street announced proudly “Promoting irresponsible drinking since 1998”. I guess there is no reason to stay sober in Siem Reap!

Here are a few snapshots from an evening spent exploring the crazy night life of this fantastic city.

Entrance to the Art Center Night Market in Siem Reap

Floating Paper Lanterns make for a beautiful sight

Fantastic spices on sale at the Siem Reap night market

A little girl enjoying her cold drink at the Siem Reap night market

Entrance to another night market in Siem Reap

Alleys lined with souvenir stalls inside a night market in Siem Reap

Local Khmer man creating souvenirs in one of the stalls at the night market in Siem Reap

Westerner playing the didgeridoo at the entrance of Pub Street

Inside one of the many restaurants advertising the Apsara dance performances

An apsara dancer performing at a restaurant on Pub Street in Siem Reap

Sign seen painted on a graffiti wall at a restaurant on Pub Street in Siem Reap

 

 

 

 

6 Hotels from Thailand and Cambodia… A Review.

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.

  1. 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

     

  2. 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

     

  3. 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

     

  4. 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

    The fantastic staff at the community-owned Soria Moria Boutique Hotel. Photo Courtesy: www.thesoriamoria.com

    The fantastic staff at the community-owned       Soria Moria Boutique Hotel. Photo Courtesy: http://www.thesoriamoria.com

  5. 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

     

  6. 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.