Hotel Reviews

Vihara Residence Cambodia

Vihara Residence CambodiaAs I’m writing this, I’m sitting poolside in Siem Reap, Cambodia, sipping coffee as I watch the sunset over this gorgeous boutique hotel while chatting away with other visitors from all over the world. (I know – life is hard.) You’ve probably never heard of Siem Reap, but it’s the small city in northern Cambodia that’s home to Angkor Wat – the world’s largest religious monument, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and on the short list of additions for the Wonders of the World.

Aside from Angkor Wat and temple trekking, Siem Reap also happens to be a super fun and funky place to visit. I also call it the “Boutique Hotel Capital of the World” because there are myriad smaller hotel options for travelers, all with unique personality, amazing design, and befitting a traveler of just about any budget.

I’ve been to Siem Reap probably almost ten times in my life, and I try to experience a different hotel each time, not because I don’t like the ones I find but because it’s so fun to check out new ones. This trip, I booked a hotel randomly online based on the stunning photos and good reviews, and scored big with Vihara Residence.

Sitting in a nondescript (so hard to find that every tuk-tuk driver has been confused and driving around in circles) There are probably only a dozen rooms in the place, but they’re super big and nice. We got in at night and the porter walked us all the way to the 4 th and top floor, but the hike was worth it when we saw a huge veranda just for two rooms, one for me and one for my buddy.

The whole front of my room is floor to ceiling windows covered by thick curtains, and there are also the same windows on the side wall and a small balcony in back. But the room itself is as big as a presidential suite at a normal hotel, with modern tile floor, deep wooden counters and cabinets, two huge (fluffy and comfy) beds, a sitting area, and a very modern and luxurious bathroom that has floor tiles that actually look like wood. I slept like a rock and the view from my windows and the veranda was stellar in the morning.

Coming downstairs, I was offered a few great options for breakfast, both traditional Cambodian food or Western fare. The restaurant itself is tucked under a roof beside the infinity pool, so you are actually sitting lower than the water level. The other best part of the hotel is that the entire span of modern, squared-off and white architecture is covered with hanging vines.

They did a super good job planning this, because the vines aren’t growing on the walls but hanging from a grid far above on the top floor, There are also hanging lanterns that look like traditional Khmer (Cambodian) hand carvings, large post with tall flowers and plants, and other Khmer artwork on the walls. It’s really a sight to behold – and only for $50 a night – it’s one of my new favorite hotels in the world. If only these tuk-tuk drivers could find it!

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Norm Schriever is a blogger, Amazon best-sellling author, cultural mad scientist, and enemy of the comfort zone. His work appears in the Huffington Post,, Good Morning America, The Anderson Cooper Show on CNN, NBC, MSN, Yahoo,, and media all around the world.
Norm grew up in Connecticut and graduated from the University of Connecticut, where he was never accused of overstudying. After expatriating to Costa Rica in 2011, he started traveling the world and documenting what he saw. He now lives in Southeast Asia, writing his heart out and working with local charities.

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