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Journeys Within Boutique Hotel Cambodia

One of my first memories of Cambodia, after the heat, and that wonderful tropical smell, is the hotels. The large, imposing, almost Vegas-size hotels that lined the road to the Siem Reap airport as we drove past to find my home for the next few days – the boutique hotel, Journeys Within.

In retrospect, it makes sense that there are so many hotels crowding the main roads of Siem Reap. This is, after all, the closest point to the temples, which so many of the tourists who now flock to Cambodia have high on their hit list.

That would be two and a half million tourists a year and counting. Siem Reap may not be the capital, but its the airport most international tourists fly into when they come to Cambodia, and between the air arrivals, and the busloads of tourists, there are plenty of people looking for a place to rest their over-heated heads. Fortunately, along with the mega hotels, there are smaller, more intimate options to be found.

Ten years ago, Brandon and Andrea Ross fell in love with the country and its people, and decided to move permanently to Cambodia from the United States. They started a tour company, and two years later, they’d opened a B&B. Today, that B&B has blossomed into a boutique hotel which, I can say from experience, is difficult to leave at the end of a stay.

Apart from the fact that it was so peaceful, and comfortable, and filled with lovely employees, and had delicious food, and a talented masseuse, I was impressed with the Journeys Within philosophy, and the way they’re helping the local people.

As well as employing local people both in the hotel and training them as tour guides, Brandon and Andrea have established the non-profit organisation, Journeys Within Our Community. The organization does everything from teaching locals English and digging wells for fresh water, to offering microfinance so people can start businesses and break free of the poverty cycle.

As for their hotel guests, they have another philosophy I love – no penny pinching. While I heard some other tourists in Siem Reap complain about the price of the drinks in their bar fridges, there was no need for that at Journeys Within.

Not only did staff constantly refill the complimentary bottled water in the bathroom and fridge, soft drinks were also free for those who needed a sugar hit. As was the WiFi and the laundry service. Yes, no extra charge for those sweaty, dusty clothes being hand washed and line dried in the sun.

When you arrive at Journeys Within the first thing you see is the original house, where you will find reception, and a range of things that will be useful for a day or night out, from insect repellant to a map of the hotel’s location in Khmer that you can give to a Tuk Tuk driver when it’s time to come home.

From there, you’ll discover a series of spacious villas around a very inviting pool, a restaurant, children’s play area, and a massage room. And yes, apart from the children’s play area, I road tested and enjoyed them all.

The rooms themselves are relatively simple, but large, spacious and I for one fell in love with my super sized, super comfy bed and my shower. You have both air conditioning, and a ceiling fan to choose from when it’s time to cool down, and the private balcony is lovely to sit on with a cold drink or a cuppa as you catch up on your correspondence. Or just watch the sun go down.

The food was delicious, and the fruit platter that accompanied each breakfast was a meal in itself. Not that it stopped me from also enjoying the banana and chocolate crepes, the pancakes, and the traditional Khmer breakfast of rice soup (not all on the same day, of course. Though it was tempting).

As well as the complimentary breakfast, guests can have lunch and dinner either in the restaurant, or in their rooms. The dishes range in price from $2.50 to $6.50 and I’m still dreaming of the Mango Salad (sweet and tart shredded mango with carrot and peanuts) I had for lunch one day.

Journeys Within is just out of town, on the way to the temples. Having not been to Siem Reap before, when I was planning my trip I’ll admit I wondered if I was making the right decision by staying out of town. Would I miss out, because I wasn’t able to potter around the streets on a whim?

But there were two great advantages to staying slightly out of the centre. One, it was so very peaceful. At night, I’d hear nothing but the crickets which helped sing me to sleep. Two, I got to have Tuk Tuk adventures getting in and out of town on the days and nights I did want to explore, and as anyone who has been to Siem Reap will tell you, that’s an experience in itself.

The hotel puts on complimentary Tuk Tuks between 6pm and 9pm every night, and outside of those hours, it only costs around $3 to get a ride, which is the cost of a simple flag fare in my home town.

Then of course there’s the biggest tourist draw card in the region… the temples. As I’ve already mentioned, Andrea and Brandon train local people to become tour guides, and can help organise your personalised temple tour.

I loved being able to not only see the main temples such as Angkor Wat, but also being able to see some of the lesser known ones. The times where my guide and I were the only people at a temple are some of my highlights of the trip.

There are of course more things to do around Siem Reap than simply look at some of the 292 temples that my guide told me about. And the team at Journeys Within are full of ideas for ways for you to explore their country.

By the end of my stay, it was no surprise that Brandon, Andrea and the team at Journey’s Within have been listed in the Trip Advisor’s Traveler’s Choice Awards for 2012. My only concern now, is how far ahead I’ll need to book next time to get a room. Race you to it….

To book with Journeys Within Boutique Hotel Cambodia in Siem Reap call +877 454 3672 or visit the Journeys Within Boutique Hotel Website

If you’re heading to Cambodia, you may also be interested in checking out my Angkor Wat Sunrise story. It’s a tourist cliche that’s definitely worth doing!

Or you may want to find out what it’s like to do a Cruise Down the Mekong… a wonderful way to see Cambodia and Vietnam.
Amanda Woods stayed as a guest of Journeys Within but all opinions and thoughts remain her own.  

Leave a Comment

  1. Anonymous says

    Amanda, I too love Journeys Within Boutique Hotel!!
    The peaceful setting, the warm smiles of the staff, and the delicious meals leave one quite spoiled.
    Thank you for posting the lovely pictures – they bring back wonderful memories.

    • Thank you… I had a feeling I wasn’t the only one out there highly recommending this one to my friends and family. Glad you enjoyed your stay as much as I did!

  2. Great blog post Amanda! I can say that I (actually -my kids) did personally try out the kids play area and we highly recommend it. So although that was the one thing you didn’t get to test I would happily vouch for it ; )

    • Fantastic! Good to know every section has been thoroughly tested. Nothing gets past kids, so if they gave it the thumbs up, then it must be good. Next time, I’ll be sure to test the rooms, food and massage again, just to double check everything.

  3. Hello Amanda. Thanks for the comments on my wee-little blog. Always nice to have someone new poke their head in. Looks like you’ve had a chance to gain a change of pace too. I lived in Vietnam in 2000 as a volunteer editorial trainer for an English language magazine. Love, love that smell you speak of. And check out the bed in that hotel. How big is that? Bliss.

    • hey, i loved your blog, and thanks for swinging by and saying hi here too. How wonderful to have lived in Vietnam, and back then too (strange that 2000 could be “back then” but with tourism increasing so fast these days I can imagine it must have been rather different to today).

      i also headed to Vietnam after Cambodia… must get onto writing those blog posts! Really enjoyed both, and am dreaming of going back. *sigh*

  4. Looks like a pretty fancy place! I’d love to try some rice soup someday. 🙂

    • The rice soup is delicious… I expected it to be sweet, kind of like our rice pudding for some strange reason! But it was savoury, yet full of gorgeous flavours. I’m a little disappointed I didn’t get to try it again, but with so many delicious things on the menu I just had to keep on working my way around it all. Yes, it’s a hard life sometimes… 😉

  5. It looks lovely!! And I love it when they provide little extras, it always makes you feel so welcome 🙂

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