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An Oasis of Serenity in the Middle of Cambodia’s Urban Jungle: The Billabong Hotel

We choose to stay at The Billabong Hotel for a lot of reason. Our first criteria was the location. Located in the heart of the city, it’s easy to get around. Almost everything is at a walking distance, even though a lot of people prefer the tuk tuk.

Our second criteria was its review score. It’s often a good start to look at other travelers’ opinion. And The Billabong Hotel has amazing reviews.

So let me tell you now how they live up to those reviews.

Checking in

Our check in went on very smoothly and fast. The hotel clerks welcomed us with a genuine smile and were very friendly and polite. They were prepared to receive us, since with just the mention of my name, they already had all of my booking details. No need to wait for them to look it up in their system. We really felt as honoured awaited guests. After a long and tiring journey to get there, there’s no better way to start a stay.

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Moreover, we arrived early, and they managed to accommodate us and our room was already ready. They probably can’t do that all the time, but we really appreciated it.

Our room

I was expecting a triple room: 1 double bed and 1 single bed. What a nice surprise to get a very spacious quadruple room. (I don’t think we never had such a big room!) We had 1 king bed and 2 single beds, which was perfect for us actually because we used one of the mattress to create a barrier so that Emma-Kate wouldn’t fall off her bed. So everyone slept like a baby. The linens are so soft, they provide 2 pillows for every guest and the mattresses aren’t too soft neither too hard. The only problem we had sleeping was because of jet lag.

Our room was divided into 2 parts, one part for us, the parents, and another part for the children, with the 2 single beds. Two steps separate the two sections. Each section has its own ceiling fan, with its own control. So everyone is comfortable and the parents can have a little privacy. And there’s air conditioning, of course.

I noticed right away that there was no luggage rack provided, but we didn’t actually need one: there’s a very long counter where we could put all our clothes and all of our other stuff on, and our bags under it. There’s also the closet where there’s a safe and a light inside.

There was a fridge, a boiling pot with 2 cups, coffee, 3 complimentary bottles of water provided each day (1 for each guest). There’s of course a TV with more than 40 channels (local and international) and even a DVD player. It is obvious they thought of everything a family could need for a comfortable stay.

The bathroom was very roomy and it didn’t have that bad smell that a lot have in South East Asia. The shower, which was big enough for the 3 of us, had a handheld showerhead and a rain showerhead, and had more than enough hot water. There’s no bath though.

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There was also a very long counter, which is very rare in hotels. It is so useful to families, since we travel with more luggage than anyone. There were also dispensers of shampoo and body wash in the shower: much better than the small unscented soap that’s usually provided, and eco-friendly too. It’s the same with the soap to wash our hands: they provide a big bottle full of hand soap (refillable… again eco-friendly), not just a small bar of soap.

One last thing about the bathroom: there was 1 hook behind the door, 2 hooks on the wall along with the towel rack. Again, very useful for a family, when everyone wants to get their bathing suit to dry after a dip in the Pool.

Which brings me to the most important thing about a hotel room, in my opinion: cleanliness. Our room was very clean. Very, very clean. The floors were clean, the bathroom sparkled and the beds were immaculate. The cleaning staff serviced the room every day, providing towels when we needed new one (we usually just hang our towels to dry, but after a couple of days it’s nice to freshen things up). And one day they even cleaned up our room earlier to accommodate Emma-Kate’s nap. Also very important: no bed bugs were found here.

Our room also had very large windows that opened, but no patio door (some other rooms have one, with their own private balcony). That was fine with me since I don’t like people to peek inside my room.

There was a leather chair too in the bedroom, which is very useful for young kids to climb on to go wash their hands and teeth when we bring it in the bathroom. And since its leather, if it gets spilled on, it’s super easy to wash.

We had wifi in our room, but it was very slow, and sometimes didn’t work. But as soon as we opened our room door, the connection was good. So when I had to work and Emma-Kate was napping, I just sit by our room door and got good streaming.

One thing that was missing was the typical binder with all the hotel information: pool opening hours, breakfast hours, the restaurant’s menu, and so on. We didn’t need it, since we could always call the front desk or talk directly to an employee and they were more than happy to help.

Finally, we had to have laundry done, and a lot of it. It cost $3 per kilo (we had 5kg). They said it would take 24 hours to get it done, but we received the clean load 6 hours later, all dried and carefully folded. They could have also ironed it if we wanted to.

Other rooms

I visited 2 other rooms at The Billabong Hotel, and ours weren’t an exception in spaciousness and cleanliness.

One of the rooms I saw was even bigger than ours, divided into 3 sections, with a king bed, 2 single beds and another section had the longest counter I have ever seen. I could totally tell that the owners wanted to please and accommodate families. They think of all the little details we might need.

Some rooms are at ground level, most of them are around the pool, with their own private balcony, chairs and table.

We were on the second level. Here again, some rooms have their own private balcony, some don’t. But all rooms have large windows or even patio doors.

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The Billabong Hotel recently added a hostel part at their resort. There’s one big room with 5 comfortable single beds, only for female travelers. I wish I could have seen it, but I had to respect the privacy of these guests. I would say that as a hostel, The Billabong Hotel is one fancy one.

The Buffet Breakfast

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Oh, breakfasts! Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day! And The Billabong Hotel’s buffet breakfast was delicious. If I tell you homemade apple and pineapple jam on top of pancakes, do you lick your lips? I don’t want to sell anything here, I just want to express my feelings. At our last breakfast, Clinton told me to stop making yummy noises because I was too loud.

Every morning, there was something different on the menu, and the favorites were also always served. Fresh fruits (lichee, pineapple, watermelon, banana, and much more), good coffee (not instant coffee), tea, orange juice, water, waffles, pancakes, hard boiled eggs, tomato, cucumber, bacon, sausage, toast… all that was served every day. There was also always a nice cook at an omelet station ready to serve our personal favorite recipe.

Then, every other day, specialties came up: baked beans, potatoes, fried rice, fried noodles, and more. An all you can eat buffet breakfast: what more do you want? Oh yes, it is served by the pool

The Restaurant

Yes, the restaurant is by the pool. It makes eating meals a lot more chill and enjoyable, especially when there’s a little rumbling stomach who don’t want to get out of the water to eat.

We ate lunch here once. Only once, not because it wasn’t good. The food is very good. We just prefer to experience different venues, that’s all. We ordered a bacon and egg cheeseburger for the 3 of us, since the portions are generous. It came with fries, for the delight of Emma-Kate. It was tasty and very good. We also had very cold Angkor beers. We were very happy with our lunch.

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If you are looking for the restaurant’s restroom, it is in the hotel’s lobby (which is 10 feet away) and there’s also 2 beside the pool.

The wifi at the restaurant is excellent. So when I had work to do, I could sit at a table, or just lay by the pool and got very good internet.

The Grounds

The Billabong Hotel has more than 40 rooms located in two different parts of the resort: one section is by the pool, and one section is around a closed garden. There’s no elevator, which was a bit of trouble for us, since we had the stroller. It was a little bit heavy to carry up and down the stairs, but the steps are quite large, so it was feasible. Anyway, the staff were always happy to help us.

I always thought that you could tell the cleanliness of a place by its outdoors: the grounds, the walls, the roof. The Billabong Hotel is no exception: it is very clean inside and out.

There’s a security guard by the front door (which I think is important for our security), and there’s also tuk tuks waiting to bring us anywhere we want.

The street that leads to The Billabong Hotel (Street 158) is a dirt road. But don’t misjudge the hotel because of its surroundings. We can’t do that in Cambodia, because the buildings are so different one from another. There can be a 5 star hotel besides a garbage field. It’s just the way it is here.

In fact, the hotel is a serene place in the middle of Phnom Penh’s urban jungle. With its fruit trees, the pool and the calm atmosphere, I enjoyed my stay in Cambodia’s capital because we were in such a retreat environment. Phnom Penh isn’t the most beautiful and clean city (as you can read in my post Cambodia’s First Stop: Phnom Penh. The fact that we could get away from all the dirt, noise and pollution was priceless. I really liked the way the hotel is located downtown, close to all attractions, restaurants and sights, but also a serene and calm place to rest and have fun.

Now the main attraction: the pool. The Billabong Hotel has a big pool, very clean, and the water is fresh, yet not cold. Emma-Kate learnt to swim here! Towels are provided by the pool, there’s 4 umbrellas, 6 lounge chairs, 1 bed and plenty of cushioned garden chairs. Since the pool and the area surrounding it are large, it doesn’t get crowded. There are large steps that lead into the pool, so it’s perfect for young children. The shallow portion of the pool is quite large, but it’s too deep for young children to stand. We wouldn’t dive in the pool, since I could stand at the deepest section (and I’m 5’5’’). There is no kid’s pool, nor a playground. Large trees surround the pool and provide more than welcome shade.

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There are 2 restrooms by the pool, with a lot of soap to wash our hands. And there’s an outdoor shower to clean up before our swim and to rinse off after… and it has hot water. Yes, hot water, so even the little ones don’t hesitate to use it.

The Staff

As mentioned earlier, the staff is very friendly. And as most Cambodians, they are quite reserved, and always happy to help. All the staff I talked to spoke English, to different degrees, which is also very good in Phnom Penh.

I also met Janny, the manager, a young and beautiful woman. She is a very nice and friendly woman. I want to explain why I want to talk about her. I watched a documentary about the Cambodian culture before we left for our trip. They talked about how not a lot of women in Cambodia obtain a head position in businesses. They usually stay behind their husband, don’t speak too loud, and there’s not a lot of entrepreneurial women. That’s why I was happy to meet Janny and talk to her. I think it’s incredible that she manages a hotel and have a head position. I don’t know, maybe it’s a family business, but even so, it’s rare that women get such a position. And it’s not that I’m a feminist: I am for giving credit to whoever deserves it. I think she’s doing a very good job managing The Billabong Hotel.

Room Rates

As you can see on The Billabong Hotel’s website, the room rates start at $25 for a single room, $50 for a double room and $65 for a triple room. A bed in the female dorm costs $10 per night.

I think that with those rates, you get more than what you are paying for. A stay at The Billabong Hotel is affordable to everyone.

Our Overall Opinion

We were very happy with our experience at The Billabong Hotel. I don’t want you to have the feeling I was trying you to sell it to you. I wasn’t. I just really enjoyed my stay. My job is to observe and tell other people the facts and how I liked it or not. I am very honest and these opinions are my very own.

The Billabong Hotel isn’t the most luxurious hotel, but it has great value and it will be worth every penny. And that’s exactly what we are looking for when traveling the world: comfortable, functional, with an amazing location and immaculate. Now traveling with a kid, this is exactly the kind of hotel that makes a stay feels like home.

Ratings

Luxury
50%
Rooms
100%
Staff
100%
Grounds
99%
Food
100%
Location
99%
Overall Comfort
95%

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We want to thank The Billabong Hotel for hosting us during our stay in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. All opinions, as always, are my very own.



This post first appeared on Around The World Travel Made Simple - Easy Planet, please read the originial post: here

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An Oasis of Serenity in the Middle of Cambodia’s Urban Jungle: The Billabong Hotel

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