Hotel Review: Le Meridien, Siem Reap
This is Part 9 of a multi-part series detailing my trip to Hong Kong and Cambodia, flying First Class and attempting to stay within a $350 budget for ALL expenses. If you haven’t read the first 8 parts yet, please check them out:
Part Four: Cathay Pacific 777 First Class Review
Part Eight: An Amazing Tour of the Angkor Temples
I don’t think that I can say enough about how friendly I found the Cambodian people–it was very apparent that they appreciated tourists visiting their country and were excited to talk with me and explain the culture, city, etc.
As soon as I arrived in Siem Reap, I could feel the excitement from not just the tourists planning on hiking through Angkor Wat, but also the locals who really seemed genuinely excited to show us all their city!
It was funny though–all the tourists that I spoke with were very surprised that I was “only” seeing Cambodia on my trip. I think everyone else had a multi-week (if not multi-month) trip planned through Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, and sometimes even Myanmar.
I had decided to stay at Le Meridien, Siem Reap for the one night in Siem Reap. Le Meridien is an SPG brand, which is mainly located in Europe and Asia. For more information on SPG and the current limited time offer of 35,000 Starwood Preferred Guest points via the AMEX SPG card, click here.
I love SPG points because of their high value for travel. Not only can they book great hotel stays across the globe, but they are also transferrable to several different airlines to really maximize their value. In fact, I recently transferred SPG points to Alaska Airlines in order to book an Emirates First Class Suite to Dubai in September. You can see how I did that here.
In this particular case, I used only 3,000 Starwood Starpoints to book a 5-star hotel in Siem Reap for the evening. I value Starpoints at around 2.3 cents each so this was like purchasing the room for less than $75. I arrived in Siem Reap on Saturday afternoon after a short flight from Phnom Pehn. My plan was to enjoy the afternoon/evening in Siem Reap, get up early on Sunday morning, tour the Angkor temples all day, go back to the hotel to shower and check out, then head downtown for dinner and to kill time until my flight departed to Beijing around midnight (to save the cost of another hotel night).
After about a 15 minute tuc tuc ride from Siem Reap International to Le Meridien for $5, I entered the hotel lobby.
I was pleasantly surprised by the hotel. Quite honestly I thought that since I had only spent 3,000 SPG points for the room it was going to be an older, run-down hotel. The lobby told me that I was in for a surprise.
First, I was greeted by the doorman, who hurried out to get my small suitcase from the tuc-tuc and bring it into the lobby. While I was taking a few pictures, another gentleman rushed out with freshly made fruit smoothies. They were cold and minty and tasted delicious after the flight and tuc-tuc ride.
When I went to the front desk to check in, I was greeted warmly. I do not currently have any elite status with SPG, but I felt like I was treated as if I did. After I presented them my passport and SPG AmEx card, they gave me my key and a staff member led me to my room.
The room was simple, yet elegant. It had hard wood floors, a very comfortable bed, upscale tiled bathroom, and even a complimentary fruit plate.
The view from the room looked over the center courtyard of the hotel.
I did not want to spend too much time admiring the room or the view…I had limited time in Siem Reap and wanted to check out the center of town. Almost everyone recommended that my first stop should be Pub Street.
In fact, I decided to go check out the Hard Rock Cafe, Angkor first–which was very close to Pub Street. A $3 tuc-tuc ride got me there. I got a couple of Angkor draft beers for another $3 each, checked out the ambiance, then walked across the bridge to Pub Street.
Pub Street, as the name would suggest had several tourist-oriented pubs; but it also had many restaurants, fruit stands, street vendors, local markets, etc. It was definitely the “pulse” of Siem Reap. I found a local restaurant called Khmer Kitchen which offered 50 cent draft beers and decent food with good reviews. I ended up dropping a whopping $12 for appetizer, dinner, and 2 beers. While the service could have been a little quicker…I certainly can’t complain for the price.
I took a short walk through one of the markets…lots of fresh fish!
After dinner I passed on the foot massages by both people and fish (put your feet in a fish tank and have them eat away the dead skin) and decided just to wander around the city. I stopped at a street stand selling fresh fruit and coconuts and decided to drink some coconut water!
There were a lot of people (mostly tourists) out enjoying the night-life of Siem Reap and Pub Street.
I didn’t want to stay out too late, since I knew I had a full day touring Angkor the next day, so it wasn’t long before I took a tuc-tuc back to the hotel for $3. I was glad to get back to Le Meridien…and get into my comfortable bed.
While walking in I saw this sign on the concierge desk…in case you were wondering–this is a poor value for your Starpoints. Considering the room only cost 3,000 points, just pay the $10!
Overall, the hotel was well above my expectations. I spent only 3,000 points on the room for one night, and it was well worth this “bargain” price. The hotel was every bit a 4-5 star hotel and had a nice breakfast area, bar, lobby, and above average room.
The employees were very attentive to my needs–and this came into play when I asked for a late checkout on Sunday after touring Angkor Wat. I explained to the staff that I wouldn’t be finished with my tour, reviewed here, until around 3pm. They were VERY accommodating, allowing me a late check out of 3:30pm.
Unfortunately, I enjoyed my tour of the Angkor Temples so much that I didn’t get back to the hotel until after 3pm. I needed a shower, and I really needed a nap after spending 7 hours in the heat and humidity. Luckily the front desk understood and was willing to work with me. They extended my late check out until 4pm…but I said I needed a bit longer and offered to pay for the room until 6:30pm. They gave me a break and charged me $90.
Unfortunately, this broke my budget severely…but the shower and nap were so fantastic, and very needed, so I can’t complain. I looked into using points for the extra night, but in this case the $90 made more sense and was easy…so I put it on my SPG AmEx to earn 2x points.
Basically, I end up showering and taking a 2 hour nap before checking out. Then, I went down to Pub Street to hang out at the Nigh Market and have dinner before heading to the airport for my midnight flight on Air China. While I am disappointed I missed my budget goal, the extra couple hours in the room were well worth it!
After having dinner down near Pub Street, I caught a tuc-tuc to the airport for $8.
And that brings us to the total trip costs:
Total Siem Reap Cost:
- Le Meridien Hotel Cost for 1 night: 3,000 Starpoints
- Tuc-Tuc to Pub Street Area: $3
- Hard Rock Cafe, Angkor: $6
- Dinner at Khmer Kitchen: $10
- Coconut Water: $1
- Angkor Temples Sam Tour: $70
- Lunch during Angkor Tour: $10
- Angkor Temples Tour Tip: $15
- Extra hours in hotel: $90
- Dinner #2 in Siem Reap: $10
- Tuc-Tuc to Airport: $8
Total Siem Reap Cost:
- $223 + 3,000 SPG Starpoints
Total Trip Cost after Legs 1, 2, and 3 plus touring in Siem Reap and Angkor Wat:
- $552.92 — ok, I am well over my budget–but that shower and nap were well worth the $90–trust me. Additionally, I paid a bit of a premium for an expert guided tour of Angkor…and I think this was a better option than the budget $15 tuc-tuc ride to the various temples with no additional information.
Stay tuned for my final post of this series, where I will share my experience getting out of Cambodia, maximizing my layover in Beijing on the cheap, and then my underwhelming United Flight from Beijing back to to DC in United First.
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