We are an adult and three young adults (American, English and living abroad) and stayed in this 'boutique hotel' for three nights and four days. They made us pre-pay (!) so we could not leave after the first night as we wanted to! The lonely planet, the website, trip advisor reviews (which we subsequently believe to be the management themselves) and even the brief tour of the hotel all gave false impressions and the short lived belief that this place is a fun tropical boutique beautiful guesthouse as they claim!
Positives: cold lemonade at first, nice soap and shampoo.
First of all the food: breakfast consists of two old cereals, toast and inedible jam (which looked and felt like cotton threads!) instant coffee, tea and apparently fresh juice. After our first dinner we didn't eat there again, the dinner was average at best but they brought soggy toast when one of us ordered baguette melt... they then attempted to make an excuse (the cook didn't hear) but another staff contradicted this admitting they were out of baguette. They boast that their brownie (we are in hysterics while recording this, better to laugh than to cry, huh?!) is 'nominated best in Siem Reap'... first of all we are positive brownie competitions are scarce in Siem Reap and secondly $3.50 for a piece of dry cake was a waste of money. They 'fresh pasteries' sit in the display cabinet day in and day out...
The rooms are overpriced - we paid $65 for two rooms and then a family room (we felt uneasy and creeped out to the extent we moved to be together) and that was after a lot of haggling (they asked $95!!!), which ended with them warning us not to tell the other guests. We definitely paid too much and are writing this from a much nicer hotel which we paid the same for. They advertise as a boutique hotel but really this place is a budget guesthouse.
The beds had hairs and bits under the sheets, were hard and uncomfortable (not what you pay for). The room had such a cheap feel about it (nylon covers and sheets that were not big enough) despite the initial smart appearance. Thin walls kept us up at night and we could hear everything. We genuinely did not feel safe neither did we trust the place, we slept uneasily. The safe did not work. One room had no wardrobe or chest of drawers- only to be expected in a budget hotel to be honest.
The "jungle pool" is crowded in the daytime by outsiders who use the free pool if they buy a drink... in contrast the hotel is eerily empty at night. Our first night we were both shocked and scared to walk out of our room and spot a staff member lurking behind our bungalow on an unused path, on her walkie-talkie. When she saw us she scrambled away, and we were to have more experiences as these. We were kept up at night by the walkie-talkie noises all around our rooms... it was eery.
The owners' dogs run around freely which would not be a problem accept for the poo outside of our room (which subsequently got walked into our room...!). We always had to watch where we walked! Furthermore the dogs freely entered the kitchen and were picked up and fondled by the chefs while we were dining. At night we were kept awake by dog fights and barks nearby. It sounded like an arena!
The hotel tuk-tuks charged two dollars into town when the lonely planet and locals say one dollar is the normal fare. Aren't hotels meant to help their guests? We constantly felt the hotel was always looking out for the next best deal and was more like a business than the friendly environment they advertise. The bicycles and tuk-tuks had the RiverGarden logo all over them- we were essentially paying to advertise for them. The owner never said Hi once although we saw her all the time (though her partner seemed friendly).
After moving to the family room we discovered a double door behind two precariously placed thin wardrobes. The doors opened into what we assumed to be the owners house (our room had obviously been a conversion). After moving the wardrobe to check it out, we discovered the door to be open. Anyone can open the door and move the light wardrobe to get to our room, anytime, since the door could not effectively be locked (!).
The gardens were not gardens as you and I know them to be- they were paths lined with tall green shrubbery. The lack of cleanliness (pool toys, massage beds, lounge seats in restaurant) proved this place was not what they advertised. No flowers?
The hotel boasted their green recycling attitude (paper, water in reusable jugs, short cold showers, magasines for menus) and although we fully support this attitude, having experienced the business like attitude of the hotel we could not shake the feeling that all of this was simply to save money.
One can definitely find better and cheaper places (it took us five minutes) to stay. Do not be fooled and definitely do not pre-pay for multiple days without trying a night! We wish we had some nice things to say and regret feeling such a strong urge to write this negative review.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The River Garden Hotel comprises 2 large traditional Khmer style Villas set in jungle gardens opposite the Siem Reap river. We are 2 minutes to the city center, 10 minutes to Angkor Wat and 20 minutes from the airport set in a vibrant local village area. The rooms are a mix of classic design and beautiful Khmer furnishings. Formerly the painting studio of world renowned french artist Michel Delacroix, the rooms are not spacious, with an ensuite and feature an inadequate balcony or patio looking over the un attended jungle gardens. Enjoy one of our 3 dining options, including a restaurant, a bakery cafe and our poolbar. Or refresh yourself in our outside swimmingpool or book a massage in our exclusive massage house near the pool. Amenities: Spacious well presented rooms, Large uncomfortable bed, Air conditioned, Ceiling fans, Cable TV, Free WIFI, Large private en-suite, Shower and shower facilities. Immaculately clean. Rates include breakfast for 2 persons. Airport, bus station or boat dock pickup $17 per 2 persons. Tours and activities, like our "Chooks in tuk-tuks" cooking classes and streetfood tours are available and recommended. ... more less
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