From treehouse to guesthouse to the French ambassador’s house, our nights across Cambodia’s countryside were as memorable as the days.

The Vine Retreat, Outer Kep

Pros:

1. This secluded big kid treehouse sits within the raw jungles and farms near Kampot and Kep. You can climb to the top and enjoy fresh lime juice overlooking the endless countryside or enjoy a spot by the recently installed pool

2. The general manager Dan Wetherall is a laid back Aussie rugby player who speaks Cambodian, making it easy to communicate with him while he converses easily with the family-like staff

3. This eco-retreat sits on a pepper farm that grows some of Kampot’s famous black, white and red pepper. A member of the staff will take you on a tour of the grounds, which also include the beginning of a fruits and vegetable garden to continue growing the hotel’s organic independence

4. It is best just to smile, nod and enjoy the special for dinner. We were served a beautiful plate chock full of fresh lettuce, cucumbers and carrots to accompany our banh chiao, a rice pancake filled with sautéed chicken, bean sprouts and more. You can only buy wine by the bottle, but I don’t consider that to be a pitfall… Breakfast was equally lovely with beautiful blue and white crockery, a variety of homemade jams and…peanut butter!

Pitfalls:

1. They provide mosquito nets for a reason. You are in the jungle, and it’s extremely buggy. I saw a bumble bee I could have ridden to Kampot

2. Even though we were staying in the wet season, it is pretty steamy and tree houses don’t come with air conditioning included, so just know before you go

3. The Internet was down, but isn’t that why you go to a retreat?

Rooms from $25

Bottom line: HOLDbut just for me because I’m a sweaty, buggy mess. For anyone else, this place is a BUY for it’s unique location, structure and attitude

Soleil D’Or, Kampot

Pros:

1. The proprietress Pascale is a chic, sophisticated French lady from St. Tropez who, like our Parisian friend Chef Matthieu in Siem Reap, fell in love with the people of Cambodia, and you will fall in love with her. Not only did she take us and our dripping packs in from the rain, but she also organized for a local to drive my camera 9 hours across Cambodia when I left it in a taxi, which is one of those things THAT NEVER HAPPENS

2. Pascale pays for two WiFi connections at the property to ensure upstairs is as strong as down

3. At $45 per night, our brand new Orchid room was a steal. This old colonial home revived into a 4-room boutique has been open almost a year and still shines, and there is a double window system that lets you have a view without the bugs

Pitfalls:

1. The property is a block off of the river, but you won’t care. The river view hotel where we were planning to stay gave our reservation to a walk-in, and the manager explained that to me from her home while I was standing in the rain in her lobby. What luck!

2. The bar was out of peanuts, which is peanuts compared to how many great things there are about this guesthouse

Rooms from $45

Bottom line: BUY

FCC Angkor, Siem Reap

Pros:

1. This little piece of history located right along the Siem Reap River was once the French ambassador’s home built near the turn of the twentieth and is down the block from the Royal Residence

2. There are several small boutiques built adjacent and underneath this colonial property, bringing a modern flair to the historical setting

3. The hotel is prepared for temple trekkers with an early-riser breakfast option that will serve your room beginning at 4am. Breakfast is normally served on an upper deck dining room that looks out either over the pool or to the street. When Old Crow Medicine Show came on while I was having coffee, I was sold

4. Mosquito candles are considerately placed outside your door that opens directly to the pool. All of the rooms are named after spices

5. Extra pillows are kept in the closet; the starchy oatmeal robes were top notch; and the room gets as cold as you can stand

Pitfalls:

1. This former hotspot is a bit worn around the edges

2. The awkward walkways left me squeezing around trees a few times, but signage would ruin the feeling the ambassador was still in residence, and the property is too small to truly get lost

3. Although the AC is bangin, there is no hair conditioner

4. The WiFi didn’t work in the room, which is a great excuse to quickly write home poolside

Rooms from $105

Bottom line: BUY

November 28, 2011 7 Comments Live a Little

7 Comments

  1. Jude November 29, 2011

    Beautiful!!!! Can just see you loving it. Ly

  2. Tod November 30, 2011

    Get to Angkor Wat ????

    Love.

  3. liz November 30, 2011

    What amazing places. I look forward to your posts, it’s almost as good as being there. xoxo

    • Leigh December 6, 2011

      thank you liz!

  4. RITA December 1, 2011

    So happy the chic French lady got your camera back in your talented hands. I would miss your Kodak moments!

  5. aunt nancy December 6, 2011

    much more fun to go back and read again now that i know you are not actually there anymore! you need to be a hotel consultant i think! y.a.m.s. and a great photographer too!

Leave a Comment