As we took a leisurely dip in the hotel swimming pool on a scorching hot afternoon I couldn't help thinking we'd hit the jackpot by choosing to stay at Pavillon D'Orient for our 4 nights in Siem Reap (Cambodia).
Early each morning we went temple hopping (a must do in Siem Reap). In the cool of the evening we ventured out to dine at local restaurants. But in the afternoons we found respite from the tropical heat in our air conditioned room or the swimming pool in its tropical garden setting.
We had chosen the Pavillon D'Orient as it was ranked as the top hotel out of 194 in Siem Reap by Trip Advisor, had dozens of glowing guest reviews and at $100 a night was within our budget.
As frequent travellers we have found that the right accommodation makes a journey much more enjoyable. We always take our time to find the best places to stay. Trip Advisor is a great starting point. We wouldn't rely on it if there are only a few entries for a particular hotel. But if there are a lot of recommendations (and few or any grumbles) it will most likely be a good place to stay.
A look at the hotel website to check out the location, the amenities and what kind of meals if any are provided is also a must. But such sites can sometimes be deceptive as they are an exercise in self-promotion. However they are generally informative and up to date and will often have photographs of the rooms
Pavillon D'Orient is set in an ordinary street some distance from the main town centre. Once inside the staff is very welcoming and the French colonial style building is charming. It took us no time at all to settle in. Our bedroom was large. The comfortable bed was draped in an enormous mosquito net which hung from the ceiling. A free fruit platter, always including a lusciously sweet ripe mango, was delivered to our room each afternoon. And from the Angkor Wat guidebook provided we were able to choose our itinerary each day and discover more about the history and style of each temple, which was no small task the Angkor complex is huge.
The hotel provides guests with a free driver and tuktuk for the duration of their stay. This made getting around really easy. Our driver Mr Sopheach was a young Cambodian guy, a soccer fanatic who was happy to get up at the crack of dawn to ferry us round the temples, or to wait around in the evenings while we dined out at local restaurants. He was ours from 5.30 to 10 pm.
When we got back to our room each night we found a small scroll on our bed on which was printed a different Cambodian folktale each night for a bedtime story.
Breakfast each morning began with little pots of yoghurt, fresh fruit smoothies followed by a buffet breakfast with a choice of Khmer or Western food and bottomless cups of filtered coffee. It was on offer all day. I found this hard to believe but it was true. I heard some guests ordering their breakfast late one afternoon and it was duly served.
Lunch and dinner were also available. Although the beautifully served food was good it was not particularly innovative. My favourite dish was the pancakes filled with prawns and pork, served with a spicy sauce and basil, lettuce and chillies. Apart from the first night we chose not to dine in. The hotel had provided us with a list of restaurant recommendations which proved very useful.
One of the extras on offer at Hotel D'Orient was a free ½ hour traditional Khmer massage. Having always shied away from a massage John was finally persuaded to give it a go. On entering the spa we were asked to dress in voluminous black cotton trousers and were massaged fully clothed in these, side by side by two charming young women. The gentle pounding and pummelling made me feel so relaxed that I went back for a neck and shoulder massage the following day.
For a reasonably priced boutique hotel Pavillon D'Orient is hard to beat. The comfortable rooms, the lush tropical garden with its goldfish pond and swimming pool, the free tuktuk, the massage and complimentary airport pickup and delivery made this a special place to stay. Best of all were the extremely friendly and obliging staff who had a lovely sense of humour. When they lined themselves up to bid us a fond farewell on our last day we were genuinely sorry to leave.