It’s not every day that you happen to have plans to be in the same city with what the world has chosen as The World’s Best Hotel for the year. I visited Siem Reap in January 2018 even before Tripadvisor broke the news, and it made me thankful that I was actually going back the next month and hadn’t booked my hotel yet. The timing could not have been more perfect. Call it serendipity.
Even up to this day, reviewers on the website are raving about Viroth’s Hotel in Siem Reap. So when I was frantically booking Viroth’s Hotel online (the last room available was their most expensive one – the Suite King), I read that a one-way airport transfer service was included in the room rate. It wasn’t just in any sedan – it was in a vintage limousine. I have to say, I was impressed from the get-go and it made me look forward to staying with them all the more. I emailed them about this service a few weeks before our arrival asking if it was possible to be picked up somewhere else apart from Siem Reap Airport, and they promptly responded that it was possible.
So when we were finally in Siem Reap, I gave them a call from our other hotel one day before our check in to arrange for the limo pick up. At first, it seemed as though they couldn’t commit that the limo would be used to pick us up, but ultimately they gave their word. True enough, the next day the driver arrived in a limo and helped me with our luggage.
It was my first time to be in a limo, let alone a vintage one, and I loved the feel of it. The retro design and leather seats made me think of the 70’s.
The red leather of the vehicle matched my hand carry bag perfectly!
The driver skillfully wove through the traffic of Siem Reap’s motorbikes.
Finally, we arrived. I took a good shot of the hotel’s signage from inside the limo before I got off, and I noticed that all their limos were not in use at the time.
The exterior of Viroth’s Hotel looked very welcoming. The location of the hotel is still considered accessible, being a 10-minute walk away from Pub Street.
Two more of their limos were parked at a garage across their property.
As we entered the hotel, we were handed a cold towel that helps cool the body from the Cambodian heat. (Upon leaving the hotel, guests are also offered some citronella spray on the body to help ward off evil mosquitoes.) After informing the front desk that I was checking in, I was asked to be seated first while a welcome drink of ginger and (I think) lemon, with froth on top, was served. Since I arrived around 11am before the standard 2pm check in time, I was made to wait in their restaurant/bar located in front of their outdoor pool. All my luggage were kept for the meantime. This was after I received a vicinity map and a discount coupon for their restaurant beside their hotel located outside the property. I took this opportunity to tour explore the hotel grounds.
The design of the hotel was simple but elegant. The pastel yellow-colored pillows, tables and chairs offered a stark but elegantly retro contrast against the blues and greens of the pool and shrubs.
The hotel restaurant has an dining option indoors (above) and al fresco (below).
Viroth’s Hotel Siem Reap Cambodia 2018 – Bar and LoungeWithout any bias, I personally found the interior pieces in their mini lounge area beside the bar tastefully retro and not at all gauche or tacky. After exploring, I had the chance and honor to speak with the hotel manager Mr. Saay and boy, did I learn a lot about them, being the inquisitive, frustrated journalist that I am. In a nutshell, he has been working with the hotel for around a decade now and started from the bottom all the way up to his current position, which is why he is skilled at so many facets of the hospitality industry and is responsible for training any and all of their hires. So if being the World’s Number One Hotel can be attributed to one person, it’s Mr. Saay. I asked whether or not there were other hotels offering a limo service like they do. Although they’re not the only one, Viroth’s Hotel has the most number of limousines out of all hotels in Siem Reap with a fleet of five. Naturally, I grilled him about the moment he found out about being Tripadvisor’s World’s Best Hotel for 2018. I found out that they didn’t even rank in the Top 100 in the world in previous years before suddenly becoming #1 this year, which was all the more impressive. Their team celebrated this honor, but I was really surprised when he said that they get fully booked most of the time even before being #1.
I also learned that they’re NOT obsessed with stars. They’re considered a boutique hotel, although for the purposes of OTAs they need to be classified as either 4 or 5 stars. Lastly, I learned that Viroth’s is owned by a Cambodian man and his French partner (husband?). That explains all the tasteful decor!
After having a wonderfully personal conversation and a photo with Mr. Saay that included a tour of their other smaller property currently being renovated, I had lunch at their restaurant. I asked the waiter about the popular Cambodian dishes they served, and I was impressed about his knowledge on their menu items! He was able to answer all my questions!
I had the fried spring rolls for my appetizer, which I learned was also Cambodian as it was Vietnamese cuisine. But this time, it was paired with peanut sauce
For the main course I had the fried curry with shrimps WHICH I HIGHLY RECOMMEND. This was the first of two times on this trip (the other one being in Bangkok a few days later) that I learned that curry+lemongrass is a match made in culinary heaven! It was slightly spicy but was perfect with plain white rice.
A traditional Cambodian drink on their menu was the fresh coconut juice. I’ve never seen one this full!! Is this normal?
For dessert, I had Cambodian bak ben which is made from cassava/tapioca, coconut milk and sugar. I’m certain there’s a similar Filipino version of this.
Their menu prices seem quite fair, but actually they’re quite expensive compared to the average restaurant in Cambodia, which was fine though. At almost 1pm I was informed that I could already check in. I had my drink and dessert sent to my room to which the wait staff complied graciously. I was personally escorted to my room on the third floor (they didn’t have elevators) and as the door opened I was amazed at how spacious the room was. Then again, I booked a Suite King room after all. All my luggage were already inside and there were more sculptures and art pieces scattered throughout the room with the lamps strategically focused on them.
The bathroom was also spacious and looked stunning in all its black tiles. There was no enclosure around the shower area, which contributed to a more spacious feeling. Multiple people can also possibly shower at the same time.
They provided generic toiletries with some of them in dispensers, although the loofah was a unique addition.
The mini bar was fully-stocked, of course.
There were complimentary fruits and hotel photos.
The balcony had a good view of the pool, as did all other rooms.
After checking out the balcony I returned to the room and closed all the curtains. That’s when I realized the ambiance totally changed without any natural light. The room looked a lot better and cozier!
The hotel itself looked a lot different at night. From a nice boutique hotel it turned into a swanky, luxurious property. There was a moment in the wee hours of the morning when the power went out for almost 10 minutes. I went to the lobby where the generators powered some lights and there was absolutely no one around including staff (they were probably trying to fix the issue) with the street outside was completely dark. I think the power went out on our side of town, but was restored eventually.
The hotel actually has a spa and gym, which for whatever reason I was unable to check out, but the photos on their website look really inviting. The next day, we had breakfast. It wasn’t a buffet-style breakfast, but there was a lot of food that it might as well could have been. A checklist was offered and we ticked which of the options we wanted per category, which included the kind of: eggs, bread, noodles, cereal, juice etc.
My purpose in staying here was to find out the reason Viroth’s Hotel was selected by Tripadvisor users as the best hotel in the world, and I came to realize why. It’s not primarily about the fancy rooms or the amenities. It all boils down to the service. After all, hotels are all about hospitality and it’s the little things they consistently offer all guests. It was: the welcome drink upon check in. Being asked about how my stay was at my previous hotel. The cooling towel handed to you each time you enter the property. The natural insect repellant sprayed unto you whenever you leave. The properly-trained waiters who are knowledgeable about all the items on their menu. Being offered to carry your luggage. Being escorted to where you want to go, whenever possible. Promptly responding to a guest’s email. Being surprised to receive an email from the hotel saying they found a necklace left in the room, which belonged to my travel companion. (It also helps that they use a classy vintage limousine to pick you up and that their cheapest rooms only cost only USD 100 per night or even less on low season.)
It seems that it’s these little things, coupled with an oasis-like environment in the middle of a bustling town, that make a hotel the best in the world.
(Note: This is NOT a sponsored review.)
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