The Kool Hotel was started by the same guy who now owns the Sanctuary Villa, and the Sanctuary Villa is a great place where we stayed for a long, long time in Battambang. So, when we decided to head to Siem Reap, it was an easy decision to stay at the Kool Hotel. Our long-time association got us a reduced rate, as well.
The Kool Hotel is located just off Airport Road, down a small dirt alleyway. The alleyway has locals houses, local food stalls, and a couple large, older buildings on it; making the location seem not so hotel-like, and perhaps being a negative for the first-time visitor to Cambodia. But Cambodian zoning codes ain’t exactly to US standards, and it’s very common to have a nice hotel intermixed with stores, homes, eateries, clinics, schools, and wats.
The hotel is located a good ways from the downtown area of Siem Reap, much too far to walk. A free shuttle service is provided in the evening as a partial solution. For the remaining twenty-one hours of the day, you’ll need to rent a bicycle or resort to throwing dollar bills at tuk-tuk drivers. Unless you arrange to bring in a motorbike from outside Siem Reap, renting one of these is not an option – unfortunately.
The hotel grounds are walled and gated, with a security guard hanging around the gate and hotel entrance. Standard stuff.
The hotel building is four stories tall. The lobby, front desk, a bar, kitchen, and dining area are on the first floor, with a small, outdoor pool at the back of the building. The upper three floors contain the rooms. There is no elevator, so staying here means climbing stairs.
There are different types of rooms, with associated price differences. The variables include room size, bed configuration, and furnishing.
We stayed in their largest size room, with a king bed, on the top floor. It had air conditioning, a small refrigerator, electric water pot with coffee service, Western-style toilet, bathtub/shower combination, television, and small bench seat with coffee table. There is a very small balcony off each room that has no furniture, and is therefore of almost no use (a small corner table with two small chairs would actually make it into something useful).
The construction and furnishings are of decent quality. Like most places we’ve stayed in Southeast Asia, some of the detailed maintenance stuff has been overlooked, like sink drain plugs that do not work – minor annoyances at worst. Nonetheless, the hotel is very clean, and the staff keeps it that way.
The room includes a free breakfast, which is selected from a handful of meal options, such as an omelette or breakfast burrito. Fruit, toast, coffee, and juice are drawn from a self-serve table.
The restaurant serves food most of the day, and includes an array of Khmer, Thai, and Western dishes. The price and quality are competitive with the rest of the Siem Reap tourist restaurants.
The hotel has free Internet access, with two computers located on the second floor, and wireless throughout the building. Unfortunately, the wireless access was sketchy during our stay, with not all the routers providing a server connection. So, we usually did not have Internet access in our room, and repeatedly bringing the problem to the staff’s attention never produced a fix.
Despite this, the staff was almost uniformly pleasant and helpful. We asked for two room changes, and both were accommodated with a smile. I kept hitting the kitchen up for glasses of ice, and they responded without complaint.
Annoyance included the wi-fi access problem discussed above, noise carrying from the hallway and the room above us, a screaming child next door, and occasional water outages.
The hallway noise was only a problem when someone was directly across from our door. The foot pounding from the room above, however, interfered with our sleep; and this is what prompted the room changes mentioned above. We finally settled in a room on the top floor.
The screaming child lives in a house next to the hotel. We have never encountered another kid who could cry and scream so much. If it wasn’t sleeping, it was making ear-piercing sounds that penetrated into our room. It went on morning, noon, and night – day after day. The parents need to be introduced to a roll of duct tape.
The hot water was non-existent for about twenty-four hours, although the cold water worked. On another day, the cold water stopped for an hour or so, but the hot water worked. The staff said that it was a result of rolling outages in the city water supply, induced by the city in response to a city-wide demand that exceeded capacity. The hotel has water storage tanks, so we were never completely without water.
The staff can arrange tours, including guides and transport for the Angkor temples. Massage service is also available.
Overall, the Kool Hotel is a good place to stay, and worthy of consideration. However, we did not fall in love with it like we had fallen in love with the Sanctuary Villa in Battambang. So, we may take a look at other options if we ever return to Siem Reap, just to see if there is something better at a comparable price (although we have our doubts that such a thing exists).