I stayed at the Royal Empire with my partner for 4 nights in 11/09 during our visit to Angkor.
We were greeted on arrival at the hotel after a long taxi ride from Phnom Penh with a welcome drink and a wet towel- nice touch after what was an exhausting journey. The lobby of the hotel was huge and the decor was a blend of traditional and opulence that one would expect in a four star hotel..Check in was smooth and the staff were extremely helpful and eager to please throughout our stay at the hotel.
Our room, a 'deluxe double' in this instance,was clean and spacious, although, as with other parts of the hotel, the management appear to have got a bit carried away with the wood and lacquer theme, which made it look dark and gloomy at times. The airconditioning worked well, which was a blessing, given the extremely hot weather and the time we spent outdoors, and the telly had a selection of international channels catering to all tastes.
Breakfast was a hot buffet served in the restaurant on the ground floor and consisted of a variety of eastern and continental dishes, although we, as vegans, found the choice somewhat restricted. However, I would not hold this against the hotel and they were quite happy to accommodate our reasonable requests in this respect. Although items like cereal or instant noodles were not laid out in the buffet, they were available on request. However, the quality of some of the items looked slightly dodgy and the dishes appeared to go stale quite quickly, which, once again, may be due to the poor quality of produce sourced in Cambodia.
The hotel also has a large, well maintained pool and it was great to have a dip after spending all day temple surfing.
What really lets the hotel down are its location on the outskirts of Siem Reap and some of its dodgy practices and usual hotel traps-
The location- Its around a 15 min tuk tuk ride away from the main town of Siem Reap, which is a minor irritant as it limits your choices in terms of eating out. The hotel restuarant, although nice, is quite expensive by Cambodian standards, charging around 4 times the price found elsewhere in Siem Reap and if you don`t like paying western prices for dining out in Cambodia, you'd have to pay a couple of dollars each way into Siem Reap every time you want to grab a bite (which can be a pain when you are feeling hot and bothered after spending all day out in the sun).
Also, bear in mind that the RE is a relatively new hotel in a part of Siem Reap which is full of relatively new, upscale hotels, so not many locals know where it is and you'd have to carry a card with the hotel's name in Cambodian to help tuk tuk drivers locate it.
Usual hotel traps for guests- We requested an iron the day after our arrival but were told that the 5 irons that the hotel had had all been lent out to guests and they would only be returned later in the day.When we rang the front desk later in the afternoon, we were told that it was against hotel policy to let guests use electrical appliances in their rooms and we`ll therefore have to use the laundry service, at a charge of $ 2 upwards per item of clothing. When we created a fuss about this, they eventually agreed to iron 4 tops for us free of charge.
We were due to be picked up from the hotel by a tour operator on checkout and when there was no sign of them, I requested the front desk to ring the tour operator's local number in order to confirm that transport was on its way. However, the hotel staff refused to do this and wanted to charge me $ 1 a minute to make the call.
Although our booking mentioned wi fi in the room, it turned out that its charged at $2 an hour.
Although staff were always nice and courteous, their command of English was variable and it was sometimes difficult to make onself understood.
Although we had a great time at Angkor overall and the hotel met most of our expectations, the issues mentioned above were enough to knock a point off what would have been a perfect stay at the Royal Empire.
Tips for Siem Reap/Angkor
Eating out- 'Pub Street' in the main touristy bit of Siem Reap has lots of cheap eating places selling anything from pizza to curry.Many cheap places to stay are also to be found there if you are on a budget.
Visiting Angkor- the best(cheapest) way of seeing the temples unless you want to cycle everywhere is to hire a tuk tuk-we hired one for $65 for 3 days, which included visits to far flung temples like Bantey Srei and Kapal Spaen.. Ask for Mr Somnang (but likes to go by the name of 'Lucky') who usually hangs out outside the Royal President, if you want a tuk tuk driver who speaks English but minds his own business, is not excessively intrusive and does not attempt the regular tourist cons on you (feel free to PM me if you want his contact details)
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Built around a stunning landscape with Khmer décor and hospitality, Royal Empire Hotel offers visitors to Siem Reap the ultimate in luxury and services. It features an outdoor salt water pool, a restaurant and bar, and free Wi-Fi access.Fitted with wooden flooring and styled with eclectic Khmer touches, spacious rooms at Royal Empire Hotel are designed to be your home away from home. Each room comes with satellite TV, safety deposit box, complimentary bottled water, tea /coffee making facilities, bathrobes, slippers and a private bathroom with bathtub, show cubicle, bathroom amenities and hair dryer. Guests can enjoy a dip in the outdoor salt water pool, workout in the fitness centre, and indulge in massage and spa treatments while delighting in the splendor of historic and charming Siem Reap Angkor.Emerald Restaurant specializes in both local and international cuisines ranging from Khmer, Chinese, Thai, Asian and Western served in a modern Khmer-styled setting, and offers a sensational view of the pool and landscaped garden through its towering glass walls. Hotel is only 2-minute walk to the Angkor Shopping Arcade night market, 5-minute walk to Cambodian Cultural village, less than 5-minute drive to the Pub Street, and only 10-minute drive away from Siem Reap International Airport. ... more less
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