Tucked away from the dusty, bustling streets of Siem Reap is The Aviary Hotel, a 25 room boutique hospitality complex. While it appears girded and minimal on the outside, to step across the hotel's threshold is to gain access to a hidden paradise with an aquamarine pool, lush fauna, and world class amenities.
Our experience with The Aviary Hotel began as soon as we were greeted by the hotel's resident remork driver at the airport. For those unfamiliar, the remork is Cambodia's motorcycle-based vehicle of choice (similar to Thai tuk tuks). The airport is conveniently located only twenty minutes away from the city proper, and at $6 total each way their transfer service is definitely worth the cost.
Upon arriving at the hotel, which is sort of tucked into a lot behind a bank, we were greeted with cold lemongrass scented towels and icy glass of tamarind juice. After pulling up our booking information the receptionist gave us some information about the tour packages offered through the hotel. Since we came to Siem Reap to see Angkor Wat we booked their "mini-tour" package for $17 (which by the way is not 'mini' at all) and then she escorted us to our room.
The Aviary has three tiers of rooms (standard, deluxe, and suites on their top floor). Since this was a short trip I opted for the standard room, their cheapest offering at $73/night. The room was fairly standard in size but felt airier because of the way the hotel utilizes the space.
For example, one thing I appreciated is that the room had both a bench for storing luggage and a proper seating area. Usually hotels only have one or the other and as a result my luggage ends up taking precedence. There was also enough room for a coffee table infront of the cushioned bench, another detail that made the room feel bigger than its 35 square meters.
The room follows the hotel's bird theme, and while I was worried it could go a little overboard and into "put-a-bird-on-it" Etsy-style territory, I think they did a good job in keeping the avian theme feeling fresh and playful. I loved the bird-cage inspired lamps and glossy red sculptures dotting the room. If you've been following this blog then you probably know I feel... a way about wall decals so I was less thrilled about that decorative choice but at least these were metal sculptures mounted on the wall as opposed to vinyl. The metal work is by local non-profit The Iron Workshop while the textiles are by Siem Reap fashion designer Eric Raisina.
Our room also included a balcony with a great view of the interior courtyard and pool. The one thing though is that in all their official photos, the balconies look a lot more fleshed out than in reality. The photos depict a comfortable looking sofa and a lot more foliage and in reality it's a lot more minimal with a lime green table and chairs. I noticed all of the other balconies in the interior courtyard had the same set-up while the balconies on the hotel's exterior had sofas. The interior courtyard is definitely the better view so I'm kind of okay with this in the end.
Okay first of all, the water pressure in this hotel is noticeably amazing. The rainfall shower felt more like a waterfall, although the design of the shower itself is pretty basic. The bathroom also comes equipped with a tub and complimentary lemongrass bath salts, along with a little peek-a-boo window facing the bed.
Another nice detail in the bathroom is the inclusion of a little stool— a convenient surface for a glass of wine or additional toiletries beside the bath, and just a nice place to perch while you brush your teeth.
This is where the hotel really shines. For a pool without a view, this was certainly one of my favorites— helped in part by the fact that it felt private because no one else was using it when I was. The pool design gives off a very natural vibe thanks to the stone-textured tiles, the polished rocks bordering the pool, and the wooden deck around it. The look is finished off by all the plants hanging from the balconies above, which make you feel more like you're in the jungle near Angkor Wat than in the bustling town of Siem Reap. Another cool thing is that if you float on your back in the pool and gaze upwards at the sky you will probably see some perfectly silhouetted birds fly by— a little nod to the hotel's namesake.
Another nice touch was that each lounge chair came with its own cute little sun hat. There's also a shower for rinsing in the pool area too.
The hotel also has a spa on the top floor, the Amaret Spa. While the prices are reasonable (particularly relative to anything you'd find in the United States, Western Europe, and even Bangkok) we actually ended up finding a great spot called Samathi Spa around the corner from the hotel with the exact same offerings and menu, down to the copy, for less. The spa same package we bought at Samathi for a massage and body wrap for $40 would've been $55 at the hotel so if you're willing to walk one or two minutes around the corner there's discounts to be had.
The Aviary Hotel takes its bird theme seriously— maybe a little too seriously— when it comes to their dining facilities. There's The Flock Cafe, Plumage Restaurant, and then Glide Bar and keeping track of the differing opening/closing hours and happy hour times between them was a little confusing.
The Glide Bar was really cute though. Unfortunately it had just rained when we went up there so we couldn't enjoy the outdoor space but the bar's indoor area is a small glass box that feels very intimate. They make some beautiful craft cocktails priced between $5 and $6 and also bring out complimentary bar snacks, including these sugared pieces of fried garlic which blew. my. mind.
Breakfast was included with our rate and taken in the Plumage Restaurant. Included in the free breakfast is your choice of a made to order entree as well as any additional accompaniments you might find in a continental breakfast like toasts, jams, and cereal. The breakfast also includes your choice of a drink.
I ordered a pineapple juice which seemed to also include a hint of turmeric. It was delicious. For my entree I ordered the eggs benedict and asked for one singular egg which may have been a mistake. The eggs benedict didn't include any protein or spinach so it was really just a poached egg on a slice of baguette with some hollandaise sauce. Knowing that I probably would've asked for two or ordered something else. My boyfriend ordered a more traditional Cambodian soup and actually thought it was one of the best things he ate during our entire time in Siem Reap, so perhaps it's better to err on the side of more traditional fare.
We didn't end up eating any meals at The Flock Cafe, which is an on-site cafe that is open to the public. However we did take advantage of the fact that after 6pm all of their baked goods get marked 50% off. I bought a discounted passion fruit tart there which was delicious.
The service at The Aviary Hotel was seriously impressive. It felt like I was staying at a hotel much more expensive than the $73/night we paid for it. Every time we exited or entered the hotel someone would run over to open the door for us (which admittedly, may have been a little excessive at times but appreciated nonetheless), and same for entering and exiting the dining room. Everyone was super friendly from the receptionist to the bar tender to our remork driver. When we went on our tour to Angkor Wat with the same driver he came prepared with a cooler filled with ice cold water and wet wipes and would offer us both every time we came back from seeing a different temple. I noticed that this wasn't super common as many of the other remorks driving tourists around the temples didn't seem to have coolers.
*extremely Miss Vangie voice* Get these cookies!
Their turn-down service is also especially cute and comes with complimentary cookies. I did find it amusing that they have to specifically tell you NOT to take the cookie jar, as if that's been a problem in the past.
The hotel is pretty much perfectly located in my opinion. It's in a much more central area than many of the bigger hotels and resorts in town, and therefore is much more conveniently located near many great restaurants, nightlife, and the local night market. Despite being in a busier area, because the hotel isn't sitting right on the street but rather hidden a little further back in an alley, there wasn't much of an issue with noise at night.
Similarly, the hotel is located about a five minute walk away from Pub Street, an almost maze-link area of small streets filled with bars— but also far enough away that you could completely avoid the area if you wanted to.
In the center of the hotel is a spacious glass elevator which goes to all floors, and the hallways and doorways to each room all seemed quite wide. I think the biggest concern wheelchair users will face is less inside the hotel than out of it— the sidewalks and streets in the area around the hotel aren't in the best condition and during rainy season the streets can easily get flooded.
I would highly recommend The Aviary Hotel to anyone visiting Siem Reap. I think it's already such a good deal at its cheapest price point but even the upgrades are really affordable. If you wanted to go all out and book the most expensive room in the joint, this is a place where you could do it and it would still be a good deal.
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