This is the seventh installment of a round-the-world trip report that started here. We pick up in Cambodia.
I landed at Siem Reap International Airport and got my Cambodia visa on arrival. (Make sure to have $20 in cash and a passport-sized photo. Better yet, check current requirements.)
I had booked my first night at Le Méridien Angkor to test it out and because my preferred hostel was sold out.
Le Méridien Angkor is a Category 2 SPG property, which means it costs 4,000 Starpoints for a free night Sunday through Thursday and only 3,000 points for a weekend night.
I was staying on a weeknight. Instead of booking a free night, I decided to book a Cash & Points night for 2,000 points + $35.
Compared to a free night, this was like “buying” 2,000 points back for 1.75 cents each, which I was happy to do to stretch my super-valuable Starpoints balance.
Using points was the way to go with a paid night at the hotel going for around $140. (Every price you see in Cambodia is in dollars. Riel are really only used by tourists for change when a price is less than $1. Conveniently when I went, the exchange rate was basically exactly 4,000 riel to the dollar.)
Outside the airport, I was offered a taxi for $10 or a scooter for $3. I pack light, and the scooter sounded more fun, so saving $7 was an easy decision!
Le Méridien Angkor is about 8 miles from the airport, 3 miles from Angkor Wat, and 1 mile outside the heart of Siem Reap.
Whether the location is a positive or negative depends on whether you want to be in the heart of the action or in a quieter area. Transportation options are so quick and cheap that I think it doesn’t matter much.
I arrived at the hotel in the early afternoon on a beautiful day.
- How was the room?
- How was the hotel’s food?
- How were the grounds?
- How was the service?
- Do I recommend Le Meridien as the place to stay when visiting Angkor Wat?
I showed up at 2 PM, which is just before the stated check in time of 3 PM. Unfortunately my room wasn’t quite ready, so I was offered a seat, a juice, and a cool towel.
The lobby is a beautiful, high-ceilinged, airy space.
After about 15 minutes, I was given the keys to my room. When I got there, two bags from the previous guests were still in the room. I’d hate to have been those guests, having my bags accessible to the next stranger to be given the room. I called the front desk, and the bags were quickly removed.
The room was on the second floor and looked out over the lawn of Le Meridien.
The room had one king bed…
… a large sofa…
… a small table with a welcome gift of fruit…
… a few complimentary bottles of water…
… a large flat screen TV…
… a welcome gift from the bakery…
… a bath tub…
… a nice, large shower…
… toiletries and more complimentary water…
… a fresh flower…
… and a lighting and air control system that was undoubtedly state-of-the-art in the 1980s.
My overall impression of the room was that it was adequate, but a little worn. Scuffs and marks were on all the walls, and the control piece of the room was extremely old.
I decided to take a walk around the hotel grounds. The pool area is a very beautiful mix of columns, over-water paths, and pleasant-temperature water.
The gardens looking back at the hotel are a nice place to relax.
The restaurant’s outdoor seating area would be a nice place to have a meal.
The tree-lined back entrance looked like a nice place for a picnic.
On my checkout day I decided to have a huge meal before I left to explore the Angkor temples. I ordered a chicken curry, a chicken stir fry, and some spring rolls. All were fantastic, and the entire meal was only about $20. Cambodia, in general, shined for food.
To me, the main question is: should you stay at Le Meridien Angkor as your base to see the Angkor temples?
For a lot of people the answer is yes. You can stay in an adequate hotel on beautiful grounds, just a few miles from Angkor Wat for 4k Starpoints on weeknights and 3k on weekends. That’s an unbeatable deal for a lot of travelers.
If you want luxury, though, stay elsewhere. There is a Park Hyatt in Siem Reap. I didn’t make it inside, but it goes for $400+ per night or 15,000 Hyatt points and carries the Park Hyatt name, so I’m guessing it’s a solid improvement in luxury of Le Meridien, which looked like it was a bit worn, like it might have been a nicer place 10-20 years ago.
If you want to be in the heart of the action, if you enjoy the hustle and bustle, don’t stay at Le Meridien, which is a mile out of town.
If you are under 30 or just want to meet young travelers, stay at a hostel in town. I stayed in a private room with air conditioning and en suite bathroom at the Mad Monkey for $12 per night. The place had a pool, a rooftop beach bar with $1 beers and delicious curries, and was a block from the Park Hyatt. It even organized the coolest bike tour I did in Cambodia (more on that in the next installment.)
Whether to stay in Le Meridien really comes down to how you want to do Angkor Wat, and I’ll have some tips on that in the next installment.
Full Trip Report
- Introduction and Mistakes
- Honolulu to Newark in a flat bed in United First
- Radisson Martinique on Broadway
- Cathay Pacific First Class, New York to Hong Kong
- The Wing (Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge) in Hong Kong
- Grand Hyatt Macau
- Jetstar from Singapore to Cambodia (Low Cost Carrier Tips in Asia and Europe)
- Le Meridien Angkor Wat
- How to Do Angkor Wat
- The Private Room (Singapore Airlines Lounge) in Singapore
- Singapore First Class, Singapore to London
- The May Fair Hotel London
- Lufthansa First Class Terminal in Frankfurt
- Lufthansa First Class, Frankfurt to Washington-Dulles