With 17 years of travel experience in Thailand, Laos and (since 2005) Cambodia I must say that HanumanAlaya is one of the most charming, and attentively decorated, hotels I've stayed in.
I am working on multiple projects in Cambodia. My wife and I stayed here for 5 days together. I returned alone a week later for another 8 day stay to finish my work. I stayed in three different rooms, all on the second floor. I would be happy and comfortable staying in any of them again.
This is a small hotel; only a dozen or so rooms. They also run a guesthouse down the street with inexpensive lodging. My review is only about the main hotel.
The rooms are filled with dark wood and art. My pix don't do them justice. And when my wife saw "I love you forever" on the bed in jasmine flowers? Big points. (-: The bathtub had orchid petals in it. There was fresh fruit, more fresh orchids and a rose in the room. Note that this was their honeymoon suite, which I think cost $80 per night, including breakfast. My single room was $60 per night, including breakfast. I think couples can stay around that rate also.
Decor is really perfect. The owners spared no expense to recreate the look and feel of an antique home from another era (obviously at great expense with lots of wood, tile and details). It's obvious that they lavished true love and care on selecting artwork, furnishings and the plants that create an exotic garden in the central pool area. The five star hotels in Siem Reap (with five star prices!) cannot compare to this personal touch.
Staff is generally attentive, however the Cambodian style is much more reserved than in Thailand. English skills are generally marginal. When I went, the front desk manager was Dara, which aptly means "star." Dara's English is perfect and he helped with many details.
The hotel is set on a side street in an unremarkable area between the downtown and Angkor Wat. They created an environment within their hotel but there's very little within walking distance. You will need a hired car for convenient travel. It's also easy to use moto-taxis, so long as you agree on a price and destination _first_. Some things in Asia never change. Oh, and some moto-taxi drivers will REALLY make you miss a staff person with "marginal" English. Remember that Siem Reap is a "tourism boomtown" and that anyone who can get here to work is coming.
Expect interesting people at this hotel! The owners are connected to Cambodia's film industry that kicked off with Angelina in the unfortunately named movie "Tomb Raider." While I was there I met two documentary film makers (on separate projects!), including the producer and writer of "New Year's Baby," a film now getting awards at film festivals around the world.
With all this praise I'd be remiss if I didn't add a couple of caveats (which could be fixed by now):
1. Breakfast - Remarkably slow. It's just a bowl of rice soup (they have Western food, too), some cut fruit and coffee but it could take an hour. The service is charming and attentive...but for some reason the kitchen is slow. Take this into account if you book a driver to pick you up. Like Disney World, you want to get rolling early in Siem Reap! (-:
2. The restaurant is very atmospheric...but has perhaps the most uncomfortable flat wood seats in the world. Easy to fix...but no cushions available when I was there. Especially funny because while my wife and I were there the first night we overheard the only other couple in the restaurant complaining about the same thing. [you didn't hear it from me BUT the Sala Thai restaurant right next door has terrific Thai food.]
3. Laundry - The laundry service was very expensive and (my wife says) not very good. I had my driver take care of laundry for a fraction of the cost when I returned alone.
4. The Spa - If you need a massage for your aching muscles they will get the job done economically. Do not expect a polished luxury spa experience. But it was still fun and we laughed a lot.
But these are just little items that could change in an afternoon with a cushion and some staff training.
The bottom line is that we can't wait to stay at HanumanAlaya again on our next visit to Angkor. It's a wonderful, authentic Khmer paradise.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Prepare for divine inspiration! The temples of Angkor, capital of Cambodia's ancient Khmer empire, are the perfect fusion of creative ambition and spiritual devotion. HanumanAlaya, Angkor's very own boutique residence, is just a short distance away from these magnificent temple monuments and is the perfect blend of traditional Khmer design and sophisticated international amenities. Many guests love our idyllic retreat. Our guest book is a eulogy to hospitality: a 'wonderful place', 'excellent service', a 'perfect retreat'. 'Paradise'. Lovingly finished in wood and elegantly decorated in local antiques and handicrafts, the HanumanAlaya is a home more than a hotel and guests find it the perfect place to unwind after an adventurous day exploring Angkor Wat and the many other temples. Surrounded by lush gardens, a swimming pool, tropical plants, and a soothing Spa, it is an idyllic retreat from the bustle of Siem Reap beyond, a stay to be savoured rather than rushed. Angkor is a magical experience, one that will stay with visitors forever. Make it more memorable at HanumanAlaya by immersing yourself in our rooms with a personal touch. We are delighted to invite you to visit our sister property, HanumanAlaya Villa, located just 5mn walk from the main hotel. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Hanumanalaya Boutique Residence Hotel Siem Reap