Hotel Review: iRoha Garden Hotel & Resort

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Starting with the ratings for my hotel stay (out of ten):

Room   8

Service 10

Food 8

X Factor: 9

Overall 8.75

I’ve introduced an X Factor which includes additional things that I can’t quantify.

Those of you who follow me regularly will know that I recently made a trip to Phnom Penh in Cambodia (you can read about it here: Mini Trip Report: Phnom Penh June 2017), which is part of my Mini Trip Report series.

The Mini Trip Reports were originally envisioned to be short reports on places that I didn’t need to keep writing about as I’d been there a number of times (Bangkok mainly, also Bali, Penang), but actually, these are more like flash reports where I keep followers up to date almost as soon as I travel. However, I think that some readers really appreciate more in depth reports, so even though I write the Mini Trip Reports, I will also some reports with a bit more depth when I see fit.

What do you guys think about that idea?

I would also encourage you to follow me on Instagram. Getting followers here and on Instagram really keeps me motivated to write the reports.

This was my first time to Phnom Penh, though not my first time to Cambodia. Whenever I am looking for places to stay, I always ask for recommendations, and with the advent of trip advisor it has made searching for the “best” hotel so much easier.

After much searching and debate, I decided to stay at iRoha Garden Hotel & Resort.  Actually this was not exactly a hard decision in the end. It was rated number 1 on Trip Advisor for hotels in Phnom Penh when I booked.

Trip Advisor Rank

And almost every review was great 5*. I was astonished.  So I decided to book it straight away using Booking.com. I wonder if there is a better deal going direct to the hotel. Usually I would do that if they are part of a larger organisation.

Once I had booked it, my first thought was, wow what a great deal. My second thought was, where is this hotel? Followed by, how do I get there?! The website for the hotel has a FAQ section which tells you that the hotel is actually more than 20 minutes away from the airport. There are options for taking Tuk Tuks and taxis from the airport. However, I’m too old for that so asked the hotel to arrange a car for me. The cost is US$14 for the car, and if you arrive late (after 8.30pm), like I did, you will need to pay a US$5 surcharge. This is the pricing that also applies for leaving the hotel.

Note that the car service is not run by the hotel, but they are people on contract with the hotel. RP met me at the airport and we both took the car to the hotel. For my pick up, the guy seemed a bit surly. No smiling just grunting.  This was very different to the departure service. Most cars in Cambodia are second hand; that is they have been pre-owned in another country before being imported to Cambodia. This means the quality can vary. And that was the case with my pick up. I thought it was a bit run down given I was paid $19 for it.

On arrival from the airport, what would be nice is to have a bottle of water waiting for you. When I stayed in Siem Reap about 8 years ago, the hotel provided the car pick up but also the had a cool towel and a bottle of water. I also travel with a bottle of water so I didn’t need one, but I can imagine guests coming off a long flight wanting to have a drink and a cool wet towel to wipe down with.

[If you want a bigger car, it will cost $18 as the base price. And if you want to leave the hotel before 6.30am, there will also be a $5 surcharge.]

The ride to the hotel took about 20 minutes. It was late on a Friday so there wasn’t much traffic. I can imagine if it was a busy day on the road, that it would take a lot longer.

Check in is at 2:00pm which seems pretty normal for most hotels. However, as my flight was arriving very late, my only concern was that they would give up my room; which has happened to me in the past!!

When I arrived there were staff already waiting for me. I must have been the last person to check in that evening. The check in doesn’t take place at the front desk, but on a couch outside. This is where most of the discussions about places to go, where to eat etc etc take place. While the check in takes place you are presented with a cool drink and a towel — this should probably happen in the car (as I’ve mentioned above), but it’s nice to be offered at the hotel as well.

The room

Listed from their website all their standard quest rooms are equipped with:

  • Outdoor Hammock and relaxing chairs
  • TVs with 90 satellite channels
  • Complimentary wireless internet access
  • Air conditioning
  • Security box
  • Mini bar
  • Hairdryer
  • Writing desk
  • Reading chair
  • Complimentary two bottles of water

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Fortunately, smoking is not allowed inside the rooms (and it’s only allowed in public areas and on the room’s balcony)

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Mostly bad reception on the tv. I tried to watch some programs but they either cut out or they were constantly blurred. I don’t know if this a hotel specific issue or more broadly in Phnom Penh.

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Bathroom

This is not a 5 star hotel or even a 4 star hotel, so they don’t immediately provide you the various amenity kits that most hotels provide. However, there is a sign right by the sink that says a lot of those amenities are indeed available and one need only ask the reception.

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When I first arrived, I really needed a shower. A full day of work and then travelling. I just need to freshen up. Unfortunately when I first turned on the shower, there was just a dribble of water.

I couldn’t understand why, and there had been no warning of this on the reviews. In any case it was late, and I couldn’t be bothered to talk to reception about it. For those of you who know, it’s almost impossible to wash off the lather with the dribble. Just as I was about to get a bottle to fill up and wash myself with, the shower blasted out water.

After that, there was no problems with water pressure. And there was no issues with the temperature. I’ve read some complaints about how hot the water was. Actually no. You just need to turn the control and make it less hot.

Sorry for the lighting. I didn’t realise until the next morning that there was another light in the bathroom :S

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Pool

I was here for two days, and I only saw the pool being used twice. Once on Sunday morning, and once on Sunday early afternoon. Otherwise it was completely empty. Brilliant!

It is situated in the garden and is surrounded by trees.

The water I think was unheated, but because it is fully exposed to the elements, the water was pleasantly warm. I’m guessing that if it was very very hot outside, the pool might get quite hot as well, but I don’t mind warm water.

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It’s a surprisingly large pool and you can get a few laps in before you have your meal. I had a light lunch, and decided to swim a bit later on Sunday afternoon, before having a massage and then heading to the airport.

Given the hustle and bustle in the city, it is great to be able to swim in the quiet of the hotel pool.

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And if you are fed up with burning the calories, you can have a drink at the bar or in the one of the cabanas.

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While this pool is amazing, they don’t have a fitness centre.

Below is a picture of the pool from my room. While there is a big building is in the background, I don’t think it is actually that close. Does anyone know what building that is?

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There are a number of cabanas, but I don’t ever saw them used except by the resident kittens. I don’t remember how many there were; maybe 5 kittens?

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And the pool at night

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Food

I had two breakfasts, one dinner and one lunch at the hotel.

Sat by the pool.

The website says the restaurant opens at 7am. I’m not sure if that is correct. I thought I was told that breakfast was served from 6.30am. Maybe that was just my imagination. But service does stop at 10pm. Though again, I’m pretty sure that I managed to eat that late when I first arrived, or maybe my internal clock was completely messed up.

There is an area inside, but I thought since the pool was such a nice area I should definitely use it!

I’m going to say this so many times, but it was so quiet. I could enjoy the meal, and it was like having the hotel to myself!

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One morning I had, what I think they describe as American breakfast. Eggs, bacon and tomatoes, with a side of fruits and some bread. I think for this breakfast, it would be really nice to have sausages as well. Just to give a bit more to the meal. I was about to go walking around all day long so it would be nice to feel completely full 🙂

On my second morning (as I wasn’t doing a lot of walking) I decided to go for the Cambodian breakfast.  It was noodle soup and definitely not as filling as the American breakfast.

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I had the fried rice the night I arrived. By the time I reached the hotel, and my friend RP and I had a quick peek around, it was too late to head out. Also because I probably wouldn’t have made it for my tours the next morning!

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This is the indoor seating area. This is only useful if you don’t want to spend time in the sun during the day time. But it’s a bit dark so why would you hide here 🙂

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One small comment. I really don’t like people talking to me when I’m eating. It’s just my own issue. After you have ordered your food, and you are waiting, I think it perfectly fine to talk with guests. However, when eating it’s more difficult. If you were sat at the table with me, I wouldn’t have a problem.

Staff would come up to you at meal time to talk. Small talk is fine. For example, once the food arrives, the staff should leave you to eat. Food can get cold.

But what of the quality? The food was pretty decent. The breakfast and the rice wasn’t greasy. One thing that might be considered is having more fruit available. I don’t know if it’s expensive to get, but I might have ordered several plates of fruits and no cooked food. Unlikely, but possible.

Spa

After an almost full day of walking around seeing all the various places, I really felt like I needed somewhere to relax. The hotel has a spa room. I hesitate to really call it  a spa. It’s a room with two massage beds and a small bathroom.

I honestly can’t remember the name of the spa but opens from 9:00am until 10:00pm.

Once again, the quiet location of the hotel means that this is a great place to have a massage. I don’t recall hearing any noise outside.

I went for the aromatherapy massage. Now I realise it wasn’t cheap. $28: 60mins; $38: 90mins; $47: 120mins. And I know that I could have got something cheaper outside, but for me, knowing that this was my hotel, meant that I felt a lot safer.

In fact I had one on each day. The first was for 60mins, the second for 90mins. I’m not sure if it’s possible to choose the masseur, because I think they come from a company outside. Anyway, both massuers were good, and I felt really relaxed afterwards.

The first one I felt a tiny bit sore afterwards, but I had been walking around all day. And the next morning my legs were not sore any more.

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After my first massage I went to meet RP for dinner at Romdeng. The reception arranged for a tuk tuk to take me there. And then to wait for me while I had dinner. In fact when I reached the restaurant at around 9, the tuk tuk driver and I agreed to meet there 2 hours later (You can read about my Romdeng review in the Mini Trip Report: Phnom Penh June 2017). For some reason Romdeng kick us out about 10pm. Really disappointing given it’s supposed to stay open until 11pm. Since the tuk tuk was only due back at 11pm, RP and I went next door for a couple of drinks.

When I came out of the neighbouring bar, the tuk tuk driver was driving along on the phone. He had come back to find the restaurant completely dark and had been on the phone trying to figure out if I had made it back to the hotel or not (basically if I had just jumped on a tuk tuk back to the hotel). Fortunately he hadn’t given up and called it a night, or else I would have been hanging around for him until the morning.

And when I got back to the hotel, the staff were apologising for not having the tuk tuk ready when I left the restaurant. Maybe I was clear enough when explaining it to them. It wasn’t their fault! In any case I had a nice drink with RP and tuk tuk was actually more or less waiting for me when I finished. They blamed themselves for not checking with Romdeng before I left. Actually, Romdeng is supposed to stay open until 11pm so again, not their fault.

Check out is 12:00 noon. Because my flight was in the evening, I asked for a late check out. You should tell them in advance that’s what you’d like so they can put it down on their records. You then can confirm on the day of departure. Again, this is normal for most hotels, as they may get a sudden rush of bookings.

As I mentioned previously, the person on the pick up service was a bit of a sourpuss, but on the way to the airport, it was a different guy and he was completely different. Better than being completely silent in the car.

Comments

  • There have been some comments on various websites that talk about too much staff attendance. This is something I have sympathy with. It did feel at times like staff were overly attentive. My initial thought was that this is annoyance that the US is particularly bad at. However, while writing this review, I realise that small things, like repeating your order very precisely, and confirming and double confirming details of day trips is actually quite a normal thing. If you are Japanese. Mr Susumu Kuroda is Japanese. Once I thought about this, it made me realise all these little quirks actually are to ensure that the customer has the best time possible.
  • This is such a quiet place to stay. Very tranquil. When I was there, I overheard a conversation by a guest that sounded like it was their second time there. I can imagine why.
  • Staff were very friendly. Their English is, on the whole, very very good. My Cambodian was non-existent so having them to prepare me for my day was really great. They did apologise when the Romdeng dinner didn’t go to plan. I found it a lot, but again seems a Japanese trait. In particular, the boss is a fascinating personality; Mr Kuroda, thank you. Also on my list of thank yous is to Theara; superb staff, and very informative. Our conversation at breakfast was very enlightening.
  • Pool is really great. Especially as no one really seemed to use it. Because I was rushing about, I never got a chance to really relax by it, during the day or at night. It would be nice to have a drink sitting by the pool.
  • Rooms are nice and large. The downside, is that it takes a bit of time to cool down, so I turned on the fan as well 🙂

Recommendations

  • On arrival from the airport, what would be nice is to have a bottle of water waiting for you. When I stayed in Siem Reap about 8 years ago, the hotel provided the car pick up but also the had a cool towel and a bottle of water. I also travel with a bottle of water so I didn’t need one, but I can imagine guests coming off a long flight wanting
  • Mosquito repellent by the tables. RP and I got attacked by mosquitoes on the first night while eating. They provide mosquito spray which was used liberally, but I think they could put one of those repellent burners nearby. For example, when they know someone is sitting down, they should place a couple around the tables. The problem wasn’t as acute at lunch, but I think would be a nice addition.
  • More quantity at breakfast. If I am going on a whole day sightseeing, it would be good to have more food for breakfast. It was good food, maybe others would prefer more.

 

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