Villa Amalia, Siem Reap: Promises lots, delivers little

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I’m currently drinking Tiger Beer in our hotel room in Siem Reap, browsing Booking.com for alternative accommodation and frantically emailing local tour operators to inform them that we will not need to be collected from Villa Amalia. What a day! While I don’t have enough to review the Villa Amalia, I certainly have enough for an opinion piece. Deep breath…here goes!

Airport Transfer? Make sure it fits on a tuk-tuk!

It started with a free airport transfer. Or at least, it started with a review of a free airport transfer. I had been getting things ready for our Cambodia trip and happened across a couple of reviews of our hotel that mentioned guests struggling at the airport once they realised the free transfer was given in the form of a Tuk-Tuk. Surely not?

To be safe I emailed the resort/hotel. “Just confirming an airport transfer for 2 adults, 2 children, 2 large suitcases and 4 pieces of hand luggage.” Surely that would give the impression that we weren’t expecting a Tuk-Tuk? If it did, it didn’t register with the hotel. We arrived in Siem Reap to find a guy waiting with a Tuk-tuk. Fun times.

To say the driver of the Tuk-Tuk was a chancer is putting it mildly. We drove for 20 minutes from the airport to our hotel and had two road traffic accidents before we even reached the half way mark. The first involved him clipping a motorbike as we rounded a bend but the second involved him almost tipping the Tuk-Tuk over as he tried to race around a Prado that was making a u-turn and in the process knocking down a rather nice display of woven baskets outside a shop and tearing half the skin off this left foot. We were all pretty shaken and covered in flecks of woven reed. Not to worry; with the hotel in sight it was time to settle down after a long day of packing, travelling and road racing.

Facilities: None of what is listed on Booking.com

Call me a philistine but when travelling with kids I always look for three things in a hotel. A pool, a restaurant and a shop. It makes life easier, especially when you arrive late and hungry. Tonight we were hungry and the kids were hangry. Booking.com recommended the room service and so that was the plan.

Except…the hotel didn’t have room service. Not to worry, despite my penchant for eating in my pants I was willing to forgo this little luxury and venture to the restaurant. Booking.com said it was rather nice. Except…the hotel didn’t have a restaurant. Ok, the snack bar, how about the snack bar Booking.com had told me about. No…no snack bar either. Ok then, we give in, how about the regular bar? Does it serve snacks? 

Finally, with the regular bar, we had hit upon something the staff recognised. “So you do have a regular bar?”

“Yes!” The receptionist beamed. Finally, I had found something she did have to offer!

“Where is it?” I asked, ready to sit down to a burger and a beer in my pants AND shorts.

“Just behind reception!” She replied. We were getting somewhere. 

“And is it open?”

“No.”

Oh dear. I knew this was coming. It was never going to be open was it. “Not to worry, what time does it open?”

“It closed last year.”

Fan-bloody-tastic.

So no restaurant, or snack bar, or regular bar, or room service. Not to worry, Booking.com says I can rely on the onsite shop. And what time does the onsite sh….you don’t have one?  Great. 

So. Villa Amalia. It literally has nothing it advertises. Except for free white-knuckle, airport transfers. 

Not Recommended For Families

I’m not a prude. I’m just a dad with hungry kids who wants what he’s been told he’s paying for. I don’t like getting upset with people but I don’t like sitting in a hotel room watching my children sleep, knowing they haven’t eaten dinner and feeling like I’ve let them down either.

I was told at 7:45pm that the manager was on his way back to the hotel to see me. I was told this at 8:15pm as well. When I went to reception at 9pm they changed their story and asked if it would be OK if he spoke to me in the morning. I said no, naturally and after literally sitting behind reception to ensure the receptionist wasn’t lying when she said he finally was on his way in, I managed to meet the manager. He agreed to a refund and was very apologetic (although he made it clear that our cancelling was financially also better for him as he could charge last minute tourists more than he was charging us). But it begs the question, is this standard practise? It also leaves me searching for alternative accommodation at almost midnight on the first night of our holiday.

It’s not a review, but when Ive calmed down and got a level head, it will be. The sad thing is, Villa Amalia is a really nice place. They don’t need to lie about things they haven’t got to get people here.

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