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“What a scam!!!”
1 of 5 bubbles Review of The River Garden

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The River Garden
Ranked #31 of 251 Specialty Lodging in Siem Reap
Certificate of Excellence
Siem Reap, Cambodia
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“What a scam!!!”
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 25, 2011

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.

Room Tip: Bartar like never before
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  • Stayed July 2011, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank FourPeople
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kulen, Manager at The River Garden, responded to this review, July 27, 2011
"Four People - what a scam?"
We love our little dogs who bring a certain charm and good feelings to the property and love to welcome all guests and visitors to the hotel. Family groups with children especially appreciate having them around, but they certainly know when individuals don't like them, and stay away.

Clearly our accommodation was a bad choice for you.
Sensible and seasoned travellers would have said something if they were not happy. We certainly want our guests to have a good time while they are here and actively work towards making it that way for all of our guests, so find it disappointing to get such a bad review.
Like all hotels prepaying for online accommodation is a norm and if there is any doubt about a guest not wanting to stay we provide a refund as required. It is all in the asking.

We are very pleased to be busy at times when many, many other hotels and accommodation in Siem Reap are struggling to stay open. It says something about what most people think about what we have to offer. The expat community are welcomed and come because we offer good food and a relaxed welcoming atmosphere on their day off a place to sit and chat over a coffee and cake or some lunch and to be social.

Travelling outside the hotel - outside fares are negotiated and paid for to drivers outside the hotel - I don't know how we are responsible for street rates.

We are however very responsible when it comes to the community and local environment and we actively encourage recycling and environmentally friendly practices throughout our hotel and in the surrounding community.
Yes we have fresh clean water in jugs for all guests to cut down the amount of plastic waste going to land fill or worst case scenario into the river and the lake.
Our English teaching classes at the local pagoda run by our staff who volunteer their time the pagoda monks and other volunteers, ask the children who attend to bring along 5 kgs of street rubbish every time they attend class ( 2 -3 times a week) the local rubbish collection agency pickups this rubbish free of charge to support this. (Have a look at our FaceBook page - The RiverGarden).
And our kitchen ensures that all vegetable and scrap is recycled in compost bins to give us great soil for our gardens instead of burning off leaf matter we add that as well to the compost, all sensible things for the longer term future of our local and global environment.

If you had said something to anyone we would have addressed the issue immediately. We hope that you enjoyed some part of Siem Reap while you were here, there is a lot to enjoy.

Management, The RiverGarden, Siem Reap
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309 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 bubbles
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (67)
Date | Rating
  • Chinese (Simplified) first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Saint Nicolas, Belgium
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 23, 2011

We would like to post our experience with the River Garden Hotel & Restaurant this way, because the manager rather ignored our comments.
We booked 'the Great Value Package' which included transport, visits (excluding Angkor ticket), rooms, occasional lunch and breakfast for four nights, at a $295 cost per person.
What we liked:
+ Decent and clean rooms
+ Beautiful and quiet surroundings
+ Tuktuk service and drivers
+ Beautiful pool (though not that clean and frequently visited by groups of people from outside the hotel)
+ The one hour massage
+ Friendly Cambodian staff though not that helpfull lack of supervision by management (basic English knowledge)
We we disliked:
- The breakfast: the best thing about the breakfast was the instant coffee. The fruit available was at a minimum and should be requested for when empty. Furthermore the breakfast was very limited, eggs costing a surplus of $3, which was very normal according to the manager saying he hadn't had eggs the last 40 years he travelled around (though all the hotels we visited the last month in Vietnam and Cambodja served a choice of scrambled or sunny side up eggs).
- The guides provided in the package were quite lazy with a limited knowledge of English and told us nothing more than the basic information. When we left the hotel, he didn't tell us about the strict dressing code which was required to visit the upper tower of the Angkor Wat temple. Furthermore all the tours finished one our before the hour detailed in our travel itenary provided by the hotel. Also the communication between the hotel management and our drivers was poor, trying to half our program. They'd rather put us at another temple than driving 12 km around for visiting the temple mentioned on the itenary.
- The lunch pack provided by the hotel, which we took to the temples, was poor the say the least. Again only the fruit was of decent quality, the 'fresh' bakery (banana cake) and sandwich didn't meet our expectations at all. Besides that, they weren't always complete, sometimes missing things, promised in our 'Great Value Package'.
- The description of 'the Great Value Package' was a lie. It can be read in here: http://therivergarden.info/accom-greatvalue4night2.html.
The Orientation tour (which we had the second to last day) was just driving around a block by Tuk Tuk, not lasting more than 15 minutes, though specified as one hour by the reception.
The 'yummy' sunset pack didn't include the kalamata olives, cheese and nuts, though specified in package description.
The Tonle Sap tour didn't provide us a 'an incredible insight into the workings and sheer size of South East Asia's largest natural lake'. The guide had more to say about himself than the local communities, and 'the local ways and communities' were just one touristic business. A 4 hours waste of your time.
- Overpriced overall package
- Showers running out of hot water after a few minutes, due to ecological reasons
- Disorganisation, unfriendly management, apparantly unwilling to face the comments and problems of their hotel.

Recommandation: go elsewhere if you want to be close to Siem Reap/if you want good overall package deals. Decent if you want to overnight in an (bit overpriced) midrange hotel.

  • Stayed July 2011, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank MB44444
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kulen, Manager at The River Garden, responded to this review, July 27, 2011
"Decent rooms, overpriced and poor overall package"

Firstly thank you for taking the time to review us - all information that helps us provide a better experience for our guests is valuable and we don't always get it.
We will certainly review the Temple guides performance and other service staff who were responsible for providing services and performing duties during your stay.

We found the comments on the breakfast unfair; 90% of hotels that include breakfast in the room rate only include continental breakfast we offer a buffet style so much better great value.
Which is why we have people from other hotels and many expats come to the restaurant for the great food and good value.
Late check out was no problem (part of the package) as you were advised at the time so really this is something you did not take up. I am advised that at no time during your stay did you discuss any problems with our managers who said hello at breakfast each morning.

Clearly if there were things not quite right you would notify someone rather than just go along and say nothing at all - we certainly want guests to have a good time, particularly when a package is involved as there are a lot of extra services added that are there to make it a better experience, things that maybe you wouldn't consider or pay a lot more for outside of the package offers.

We hope you did enjoy your time in Siem Reap as it has a lot to offer.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Canberra
Level Contributor
9 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 19, 2011

The province of Siem Reap is one of the poorest in Cambodia and would rarely be visited by foreign tourists but for the great temple complex of Angkor Wat, which is comparable to best Burmese temples and was the centre of the greatest conurbation in the world in the 13th century.
With over 150 hotels in Siem Reap city it is difficult to claim one hotel is the best value; but for 3 star hotel value it is hard to go past the River Garden, which [as the name suggests] is set in riverine garden.
The breakfast and drinks are perfect with the staff better than anything you will find in the five star hotels.
The swimming pool, massage hut, and coffee shop create a discerningly eclectic hotel experience. But the crowning advantage of this hotel is its garden: the trees, shrubs and flowers are the perfect place to relax. This makes it the perfect base for expeditions to the various temples around the province.

Room Tip: Book ahead or aim to go in the wet season (Jly-Sp)
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  • Stayed February 2011, traveled solo
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank VincentPriceCanberra
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Brisbane, Australia
Level Contributor
10 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 11, 2011

We booked into this hotel as it was Lonely Planet's top pick for Siem Reap. Bad call Lonely Planet. The room that we got was being clearly being redone and wasn't yet suitable for people to stay in it. The walls weren't painted, and were marked with chalk. The bathrooms were pretty average, and the shower pressure was terrible. The room clearly didn't match the description provided on wotif, and lacked a lot of the features that it claimed it had on the site. To be fair, when we showed the owner our booking on wotif, she offered us $10 back and a bottle of wine. Her hospitality ran out from that point onwards though. The worst part of the experience was that you could see into our room from the road- there were really thin pieces of material that were meant to act as curtains. Given there were constructions workers constantly walking around, and people walking past the gate, we thought it was a bit awkward, especially as two girls. When we asked the owner if she could put up proper curtains, she just replied that noone would want to look at us anyway. No jokes.

Overall, there are far better places in Siem Reap for reasonable prices. The grounds are nice, so if you're happy to stick to yourself, avoid the owner, and stay in a below average room, go for it. Otherwise, look elsewhere!

  • Stayed July 2010, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank navman22
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Shanghai, China
Level Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 5, 2011

Looking for a place that’s almost it’s own world unto itself? A place that one can feel absolutely content in? A place that almost everything one needs to relax and have a good time with friends or meeting fellow travelers is in place? Well, The River Garden may very well be just that place!

Situated about half way between the temples of Angkor and the downtown/Pub Street area, The River Garden offers guests an intimate, jungle-like compound comprised of a number of bungalows and Khmer-style cottages.


The River Garden also features an amazing saltwater pool complete with pool toys for kids of all ages, massage huts and a restaurant/bakery that serves up some of the most mouth-watering dishes and baked-goods in all of Asia… Seriously!

Another interesting perk about The River Garden has become a place that a lot of ex-pats and their Khmer friends and associates like to hangout at for a swim and weekend brunches by the pool. Thus, visitors that are not afraid to strike-up conversations with “strangers”, are likely to be treated to some interesting stories and insights into Siem Reap, Cambodia and maybe even the S.E. Asia region in general.

  • Stayed May 2011, traveled solo
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank XoMoX-codev
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Wanaka, New Zealand
Level Contributor
6 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 27, 2011

The garden and pool are lovely, our room was lovely , a little bit shabby but beautiful. The River Garden markets itself as giving something back to the community and i'm sure it does, but think this is a bit of a good marketing ploy for the Australian owners. We really enjoyed the pool and lovely garden setting and the food was good. The staff are really lovely as most Cambodians are if one can generalise in this manner . Our tuk tuk driver who works through the hotel, I am ashamed to say I have forgotten his name, was really nice too. It was our first stay in Cambodia and a nice start to an amazing trip. It is a little out of town but makes for an interesting walk into the touristy centre.

Stayed May 2011, traveled with friends
Helpful?
Thank burgerlicious
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kelowna, Canada
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 23, 2011

My friend and I stayed at the River Garden for 6 days and were very sad to leave. I'm wondering if one of the previous reviewers is reporting on the same hotel??? We loved the fact that the hotel was away from city centre and we could mingle with the local people. The big smiles, the colour, the music and the invitations to attend celebrations all made us feel so welcome. The morning blessing offered by the young monks was a wonderful way to start a day of new adventures. We braved riding the bicycles available for rent through the busy streets, took tours by tuk tuk to the temples ( we stopped to feed the monkeys and elephants) to the floating village, to visit an orphange and into the city. After a busy day of sightseeing it was lovely to return to this peaceful jungle paradise where the staff goes out of their way to make you feel special.
We especially loved the cooking class with Youthful Yit. The whole experience of shopping, cooking and eating the delicious food was so memorable.
We enjoyed massages by the blind massage therapists and pedicures in the massage hut.
The food is great with beautiful fruit platters and a breakfast selection which includes both western and Asian food. The cocktails are tasty and beautifully presented....pineapple chili margarita and ginger or lemongrass martini mmmm. We enjoyed the dinner and lunch menu so much that we didn't go anywhere else to eat.

Volunteering a couple of hours with the children at the Pagoda was very worthwhile.

There is free internet service including a computer for use in the office at no charge.

I can't say enough about the staff. They are energetic, friendly and thoughtful. We felt so blessed to have met these beautiful people and especially so, when they presented us with big bouquets of flowers on our departure. Amazing Anna is truly amazing and Marvelous Marani IS marvelous.

As for value, we stayed 6 nights including food and drinks, 2 massages, 1 pedicure each, tuk tuks to various points of interest, cooking class, bicycle rental, small charge for volunteering at the Pagoda (money goes to the program), all for around $270. ea US. The best value of any place we stayed on our trip through Cambodia, Vietnam, Bali and Malaysia.
♥♥♥RiverGarden

  • Stayed March 2011, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank joglo48
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about The River Garden

Property: The River Garden
Address: Wayism Road | Treang Village, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Location: Cambodia > Siem Reap Province > Siem Reap
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #31 of 251 Specialty Lodging in Siem Reap
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:3 star — The River Garden 3*
Number of rooms: 11
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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