Visiting Bequia Island in St. Vincent & The Grenadines

SVG is made up of some 6000 lush tropical islands, most of them are inhabited and all of which are a great excuse to leave the main island of St. Vincent and explore. The next stop on our SVG Live Liming Week was Bequia, pronounced “Beckway”. It’s often touted as a more relaxed and authentic experience compared to the hustle and bustle of the main island. Bequia has a population of just 4300 people scattered across 7 sqaure miles. Its undulating landscape forces the roads to hug the coastline and the beautiful turquoise waters are worth the trip alone.

Getting to Bequia

bequai express ferryWhile Bequai does have a small airport for mostly chartered flights there is a much cheaper and fairly short ferry ride from St. Vincent. The journey only took an hour on our “Bequai Express” which lumbered along, rocking from side to side in open water. The crossing can be a little wobbly at times especially in inclement weather but our journey was pretty smooth and you’re soon back in to the calm seas around Bequia. The port is the busiest area of the island but everything moves at a decidedly Caribbean pace. There’s usually no real rush to get things done and after a few days in St. Vincent & The Grenadines we were used to this way of life, enjoying the relaxed vibe that everyone seems to exude here.

Bequia Beach Hotel

Bequia Beach HotelOur first stop in Bequai was the modern yet rustic styled “Bequia Beach Hotel”. A short drive in an open air taxi, essentially a pickup van with a high roof and comfy padded benches in the back. The winding roads create great vistas around every turn and the path dipped down around the resort and entering its wonderful colonial styled beach front buildings. Situated in and on the sides of a natural valley, the Bequai Beach Resort had a real european touch to it. I’ve had the pleasure of staying in places like this before where a european expat sets up a new resort and brings with them European standards of building and management. The resort has a mixture of pretty little colourful cottages, beach facing apartments, hill side hotel rooms and even a 4 bedroom villa with a private pool that overlooks the landscape and beach.

Cocktails and dinner with the owner Bengt Mortstedt gave us the opportunity to find out what made him pick Bequai and build a new hotel here. Like others before him, the high pressure career coupled with a chance holiday to Bequai created a life long passion for the island and a new career in the hotel industry was born. Bengt was keen to tell us that Bequai is the “original Caribbean”, before the tourists really came to the Caribbean islands like Barbados and Jamaica, influencing their culture. While its hard to pinpoint how much this is true its definitely apparent that Bequai has retained its own unique way of life that locals and tourists love.

Sugar Reef

Sugar Reef Hotel BequiaHidden amongst the palm trees and hills of Bequia there is a small community of expats that have been here since the 70s in some cases. Clearly in tune with the Bequai vibe that has prevailed through the decades. The owners of the Sugar Reef Hotel are part of this expat community, with a cute boutique style resort nestled in a small bay on the east side of the island. With just a few houses dotted around the hills there’s a great sense of space and seclusion here and both the location and the decor of the hotel feel very connected with nature. With just a handful of beach-front rooms and more rooms with spectacular views up at the “French House”, Its easy to see why they created the hotel here. A cocktail reception gave us a chance to meet some more of the local expat community and find out what it is about this tiny island that has kept them here so long.

We met a great range of people, from artists who have happily called Bequia “Home” since the late 70s, to young couples who have lived here most of their lives as their parents run hotels or local businesses. Bequai can be frustrating at times, I’m told, with a slower pace of life its hard to get things fixed quickly and island life makes getting deliveries and supplies all the more challenging, not to mention expensive. Besides all this the pros of living in Bequia clearly outweigh the cons as everyone we met adores the island, its people and its awe-inspiring views. There’s just something about Bequai.

Tour of Bequia island

bequai-coastal-viewsWhile its nice to find beautiful hotels to do some real Caribbean Liming, this little island is worth exploring too not just for the views but also for some great local characters. The “Old Hegg” Turtle Sanctuary is definitely one of those places. The sole creation of Orton “Brother” King, once a professional diver for 35 years, he said creating his turtle sanctuary was a calling for him and he successfully nurtures around 50 turtles at any one time. The sanctuary is small and a fairly humble affair, just a few pools and tanks for turtles of different ages. He also has an impressive goat farm and collection of dogs too that love to follow him around and lounge out in the sun.

One of Bequia’s most colourful characters and possibly the island’s happiest man,”Nugget” is famous for his model boats . We were invited in to the Sargent Boat Works, filled with the most beautiful ornate wooden boats of all shapes and sizes. He gave us a tour and told us all about how he puts these beautiful ornaments together. Some take up to 3 months to create and involve hundreds of pieces of wood. He’s often asked to create model replicas of yachts that people own around the island. Following the original plans and painstakingly carving every little detail. He was an infectiously happy guy and a real pleasure to meet, its the local characters that always make a place what it is, even more so on such a small island.

Leaving in style

Flying from Bequia to Union IslandWith word that our ferry on to our next destination was out of action we, were left with no choice but to  charter a plane. Before this trip I’d never been in anything smaller than a jetliner so with some trepidation we headed to the small air strip right on the coast, built on reclaimed land. Our re-assuringly posh and well dressed pilot greeted us next to his tiny little 10 seater aircraft. The “Britten Norman Islander” was by far the smallest plane I’d ever been in and with a clear view of the pilot ahead it was a very new experience for me.

The flight lasted just 20 minutes and was quite spectacular. With so many islands in St. Vincent & The Grenadines there really is no better way to see them all than from the air. From the moment you take off the views are amazing, heading out over the Caribbean Sea passing island after island, floating amongst the clouds and eagerly watching the view below. The smooth journey was an all-too-short experience I’d so wished had been longer, with such stunning blue waters, sail boats parked by private islands and local life continuing below us.

The landing at Union Island was an exciting end to our time on Bequia. Just a couple of days to sample its delights and a glimpse in to a very different island life, both for locals and the expats who so lovingly call Bequia “Home”.

Want to know more about St Vincent & The Grenadines? Check out the official Facebook Page here and enter their competition to win your own amazing holiday in SVG! You can also see lots more of my photos of St. Vincent here and check out the video of climbing La Soufrière volcano too.

Oxford YHA Hostel Review

On our Great British road trip we’ve stayed at numerous hostels. Some big, some small, some tiny.  On average the smaller ones are usually the best value for money but this isn’t always the case.  We recently had the chance to check out the YHA in Oxford for 3 nights thanks to Hostelworld.  It’s definitely a big hostel with a prime location too.

I’ve long said accommodation has to do just two things.  Give you a good nights sleep and make you feel welcome.  I was prepared for a lack of both these things for some reason. Big hostels haven’t always been the kindest to us in our trip.  But I was to be surprised.

Staying at the YHA Oxford

YHA Oxford reviewsWe parked up at Oxford’s handy ‘park and ride’ car park.  A mile from the hostel but an easy 15 minute walk or of course just a cheap bus ride away.  The distance is worth it if you’re driving as the parking was just £1.50 a day.  A miracle for city parking.  We’ve paid up to £18 a day in some cities we’ve visited.  If you’re visiting Oxford by train or bus the location couldn’t be better.  Right next to the station and a very easy walk to the centre of town where you’ll find lots to do.

Entering the hostel we were greeted by the friendly staff and probably one of the best lobby areas I’ve seen in a hostel.  Lots of comfy seats and sofas, a real cafe feel with food and drinks on sale too, music playing in the background and warm soft lighting.   All very relaxing and pleasant.  Better than some hotels that cost twice as much.

Hostel bedroom

YHA double bedroom reviewWe were given key cards to our room with no deposit which is good.  The door to the stairs is secure too.  There’s no lift to help us with our bags but there’s only two floors anyway.  Our room was at the end of a short corridor.  One that was quiet and contained just a handful of rooms. So very little noise from the hallway.  Our private room was small but had everything we needed. The door just swang past part of the bed and with bags was a bit of hassle to get in and out.  But once we were in it was fine.  We had a double bed with a single bunk above it.  An interesting design which is handy for families on a budget.  We had our own bathroom with hot shower, a small flat screen tv and even bed side lamps for nighttime reading.  Small but cosy and inviting.  Our room overlooked the train station and we could sometimes hear the announcements on the platforms although only very quietly thanks to two layers of windows.  We also occasionally felt the rumble of trains too but neither the noise or vibrations ever woke us up.

Hostel features

Budget hotel in OxfordThe features in this hostel seemed to be proportional to the amount of guests at peak season and how much they’re likely to use them.  The boathouse restaurant was big and had a decent menu.  Open in the evenings and the place for one of the best breakfasts I’ve seen at a hostel.  Full fry up and lots of other options like fruit, yogurt, prunes, toast, cereal, juices, teas and coffees.

The self-catering kitchen had 3 sets of everything including ovens.  Lots of well stocked cupboards and enough space for the usual ballet dance of multiple people trying to cook meals.  We could use the boathouse dining tables to eat at so there’s plenty of room once your meal is ready.  The games room had a pool table and some comfy sofas to watch the giant TV too but we preferred the coffee-shop ambiance of the lobby area where we could check our emails and relax.

boat-house restaurant at yha oxfordOf course no hostel is perfect.  Nearby parking would have been handy rather than a mile away.  Our room just had enough room to open the front door so a little extra space for bags would be useful. Other than that I really can’t fault the place. It was big enough to be useful but cosy enough to have atmosphere and promote conversations with fellow guests.

Exploring Oxford

Oxford Castle museumOxford has long been a place very fond to me.  I was born here in and my grandparents lived here for much of their lives so I’ve visited parts of the city numerous times.  It’s sad to say I’ve actually rarely visited the centre of the city as I was usually just here to see relatives.  Oxford is a wonderfully walkable city and its centre was just 5 minutes from the hostel.  We walked around the former Prison of the Oxford Castle.  Now a museum and luxury hotel too.

Pitt Rivers Oxford reviewPitt Rivers museum of biology is a great place to visit with a huge collection including some very famous ones.  It’s like something from the movie “A night at the museum” and the building alone is worth checking out.  My favourite exhibit is the shrunken heads, I remember seeing those as a child and its great to see they’re still there.

Oxford city centre walking tourThere are of course many university colleges to explore, most of which you’re free to walk around the grounds when they’re open.  The alleyways and streets are filled with wonderful cafes and pubs, usually full of students too so the atmosphere is always lively here.  There are plenty of good walking tours in many languages, often done by students in their spare time.

With the stunning architecture outside and the cosy pubs it’s a city that welcomes you with open arms.  After all many of its central inhabitants are a transient crowd from all over the world.  So it’s naturally a very liberal place.

All in all we had a great time in Oxford, made all the better by a good nights sleep and a great hostel to hang out in.  Proving that big hostels can be good hostels.   Our thanks to the YHA Oxford for their hospitality and for sponsoring our stay along with HostelWorld.com and thanks for their support on our Great British Road Trip.

Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland

A short stay in Portrush, Northern Ireland

The coast of northern Ireland is truly epic, is a sentence I’ve heard quite a few times. Finally it was time to check it out for myself. Our Great British Road Trip has taken us to some surprisingly epic places already, the highlands of Scotland, the islands of Orkney and now from Belfast, we headed towards the seaside town of Portrush.

Giant's Causeway in Northern IrelandOne of the biggest tourist attractions on the coast is of course the Giant’s Causeway, so the coastal road is appropriately named the Causeway coastal route. Perfect for tourists with time on their hands like us! You can get to Portrush from Belfast in an hour or so but the best scenery is definitely along the coast. It took us a good 3 hours with numerous stops at awesome vantage points, where the rolling hills become mighty cliffs with tempestuous seas bashing against the rocks below. Quite a sight!

Portrush town housesWe arrived in the sleepy town of Portrush. Sleepy for us at least as we’re now out of peak season for tourists. The perfect time of year to travel in the UK as the roads, tourist attractions and hotels are less congested. Portrush is a small town of around 6000 people and definitely geared towards the tourists. With an abundance of hotels, amusements arcades and restaurants. For this part of our journey we were staying in a family run establishment called the Portrush Holiday Hostel. A descriptive name but one that doesn’t do it full justice if you ask me.

Run by the friendly couple Philip and Colette, Its really more of a home than a hostel. A grand Victorian town house with a modest entrance but a very cosy lounge. The lounge was big and feels like well-kept home. A big comfy sofa, ample room for 3 dining tables and the best feature, a beautiful original fireplace. If its cold outside they’ll light the fire which roars away making the place so warm and inviting.

Bedrooms at Holiday Hostel PortrushThe bedrooms were clean and mostly functional, with our private room having a comfortable double bed and small cupboard. Not much room to put a couple of suitcases but if you’re travelling light its fine. The Kitchen is huge and has lots of room for guests to cook their meals, even with lockable storage cupboards for your food. Breakfast is included and there’s free tea, coffee and hot chocolate all day. It’s always nice to stay in a place where they think about their customers. The free drinks were much appreciated, they have lots of laundry facilities out the back, ample space in the lounge for all the guests and free wifi access throughout the building. Something that has been surprisingly lacking in the hostels we’ve stayed in recently.

Things to do in and around Portrush

Things to do near port rush - DunlucePhilip gave us a great introduction to the area and what there is to do around here. 90{bec4beb4183ddc16376e6eff89836f2abe3407e857522bf84005ba0ad48d654d} of people staying in Portrush are here to visit the famous Giants Causeway, a very unusual coastline of volcanically produced hexagonal columns like stepping-stones out to sea. There’s actually so much more to the north coast of N.Ireland, some fantastic coastal walks, castles, even a temple. You can read our full review of things to do in Northern Ireland here.

Mussenden Temple

Missenden Temple on the coast near Castlerock

Exploring Portrush

Portrush harbour

Portrush itself is worth exploring and we made sure we took some time out from exploring the coast to have a walk around this pretty little town. In its previous life this town was a haven for the rich and famous who would holiday here in the grand buildings and hotels. Its harbour with fishing boats is pretty place to walk around and a loop of Ramore head is a must. Most of the centre of town is based along this peninsula and the Holiday Hostel is just a couple of minutes away from the head’s path that leads you to the edge of this jutting rock, with grand views of the surrounding coastline. Definitely worth it for a photo or two.

We found no shortage of places to eat in Portrush. The town still retains its seaside holiday image and every hotel along the main drag operates as a restaurant too. Philip told us how quality has risen over the years thanks to competition between the restaurants. One thing the town did seem to lack was some cosy pubs to relax in, but I get the feeling Portrush is designed for the busy tourist in mind.

Our video of Northern Ireland

Take a moment to watch our short video from the road trip. Featuring our time in Belfast and exploring the coast of Northern Ireland.

We really enjoyed our time in Portrush. Philip and Colette’s Holiday Hostel is a great place to stay if you want to feel homely and relaxed. They’ve got all the little touches just right, everything that makes you feel welcome and helps you save money.

With thanks

A special thanks to Philip and Colette for their hospitality and to HostelWorld for their continued support on our Great British Road Trip. Also a big thank you to the National Trust for entry in to the Giant’s Causeway. For more information visit the National Trust website.

where to go in antwerp belgium

A short break in Antwerp, Belgium

It’s probably fair to say Belgium is one of those countries that everyone has heard of but not many really know much about or what there is to do there. Flanders in particular is the northern region of Belgium and has a surprising amount of fun things to do. It’s definitely time to find out what Belgium is really like besides the beer and chocolates. We were recently invited to check our a festival in Flanders as part of the “Flanders is a festival” campaign raising awareness of just how much is going on in this region.

How to get there

St Pancras to BrusselsFirstly, reaching Belgium from the UK is fantastically easy. There are cheap flights of course but I’d recommend the Eurostar. You can catch it to Brussels in under 2 hours and there’s lots of trains up to Antwerp taking just 50 minutes. So you can get to Antwerp quicker than you can get to Manchester! Travelling by train also makes you appreciate just how close Belgium is and how connected the UK, France and Belgium really are. You also arrive at one of the most beautiful stations I’ve ever visited at Antwerp Central. Definitely stop and take a few photos before you leave.

Music Festival

antiliaanse feestenWe wasted no time in jumping straight in to what the Flanders region does well. As the campaign name suggests there are lots of festivals in Belgium worth checking out. We arrived just in time to attend the first night of the Antilliaanse Feesten in nearby Hoogstraten. Driving through beautiful countryside and passing houses with immaculate gardens we arrived at this lively festival some 35 minutes from Antwerp. The belgians sure do know how to organise great festivals and this one has been running for 30 years now. A celebration of Caribbean music with 3 stages under huge roofs. The array of food on offer was very impressive, everything from great belgian food, Caribbean of course and Asian cuisine too.

The atmosphere was great and it’s always interesting to see such long-established festivals, seemingly in the middle of nowhere doing well with a good crowd that continued to pour in even at midnight. Highlights for us were Morgan Heritage who were real crowd pleasers, Loco Mondo which we only caught part of their set but were really impressed by, and also the Salsa tent with its wonderful interior and DJ playing lots of great big-band songs for the impressive crowd of skilled salsa dancers.

Much like every music festival these days the drinks are expensive and they used an annoying token system, but other than that it was very well organised and had a great atmosphere. I’d highly recommend it if you’re thinking of checking out some festivals in Belgium next summer! For more information check out www.antilliaansefeesten.be

Walking around Antwerp

where to go in antwerp belgiumFrom the collection of tourist leaflets and books we were given it was clear that Antwerp is a very walkable city. There’s lots to see and do on the streets so while there is some great transportation options like the tram system and tourist hop-on hop-off buses. While they are the quick option if you really want to cram everything in, our preference is to walk and soak up the atmosphere of Antwerp as we go.

We headed to Olv Cathedral, an obvious landmark that’s hard to miss from anywhere in central Antwerp. It’s surrounded by a number of large squares and pretty streets lined with beautiful buildings adorned with gothic architecture. This really is a very photogenic part of the city and the back to back cafés and bars make this the perfect place for people watching too. A look inside the cathedral reveals more wonderful architecture as well as a gallery of renaissance art. The streets outside also contain some great shops for some real authentic Belgian souvenirs including chocolates and all manner of interesting trinkets.

The Grote Markt was a particular favourite area of mine with some impressive buildings and a beautiful fountain statue in the centre, raining water down on to the cobble ground below, rather than in to a pond. It’s a popular place for a photo and also where you can catch a horse and cart ride around the city centre.

Antwerp Pride

Drag queen at Antwerp PrideThe rainbow coloured flags of the Gay Pride festival were out, prompting us to wonder when pride might be on in Antwerp. We soon found out when we walked to the river’s edge and were met by thousands of people and a parade of floats with impressively loud music.

We stopped for a while and enjoyed the party atmosphere in the sun. Who ever said Belgium was a dull place clearly hasn’t been to Antwerp! What great timing and the weather was perfect too!

Museum aan de Stroom

As with any major city there is always a number of museums in town. Antwerp is no different and of allt he museums on offer the one that caught our eye was the MAS (Museum aan de Stroom) It’s an interesting building on the MAS buildinggrounds of an old port warehouse. It now houses 9 floors of museums, exhibitions and art galleries as well as a roof-top panoramic view of the city. The view alone is worth the walk along the river and up the 9 escalators to the top. Inside you’ll find out about how Antwerp came to be and it’s importance in the world, especially the port. There’s also an art gallery with mixes modern art with classic paintings by the likes of Rubens. It’s a strange mixture as it highlights just how lazy and relatively unskilled modern art is, compared to the intricate and photo like quality of classic pieces. In one room a famous Rubens masterpiece hangs on the wall near to a modern piece that seems to be made of 3 bits of cardboard taped together. I know which art I prefer! Check out www.mas.be for more info.

Mussels and beer!

De Koninck beerA trip to Belgium wouldn’t be complete without two things. Mussels and beer. So when it was time to stop for a bite to eat we headed back to our favourite square outside Olv Cathedral and found the perfect table to dine and people watch. To large glasses of Belgium’s finest beer and a pot brimming with freshly cooked Mussels made us feel very much at home in Antwerp. We were even serenaded by a quartet outside the cathedral playing classical music to a growing crowd. A great way to enjoy our food in the sunshine.

After freshening up back at our hotel we enjoyed an evening of yet more wonderful Belgian beer and soaking up the atmosphere of one of Antwerp’s many street restaurants where tables are lined up filling the streets with the sound of sociable people enjoying a conversation with friends. It’s a lovely way to round off a fun day in Antwerp and we both agreed it’s a city we could easily spend a lot more time in. It’s relaxed atmosphere yet busy social scene makes it the perfect place to spend a few days or a few months.

Our stay in Antwerp was all too short but Brugge beckons! We’ve really enjoyed our time here and highly recommend a visit especially for a long weekend with a loved one. The Eurostar makes it so easy and Antwerp is perfect for strolling, dining and drinking!

With thanks to Tourism Flanders and Antwerp Tourism for our stay in Antwerp at the Park Inn Hotel.

tune hotel review malaysia

Review: Tune hotel, Downtown Kuala Lumpur

Like many seasons travellers I’ve stayed in a lot of hotels, some luxury resorts, some hotels that have seen better days and some hotels that claim to be “budget”. In fact there’s a large number of cheap hotels where the saying “you get what you pay for” really seems appropriate. Damp on the paper thin walls, grumpy staff and beds so uncomfortable you’ll be lucky if you ever get to sleep. Finding a place that’s value for money can be really hit and miss.  The same used to be true of airlines but the advent of “low cost carriers” has changed that. the mentality of cheap services with optional extras if you want them has transformed the aviation industry and the real winners are those that run value for money budget airlines. In 2009 Tony Fernandes, the owner of Air Asia and the Tune Group opened their first budget “Tune Hotel”. On a recent visit to the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur we were invited to review the downtown Tune Hotel to see if the no-frills airline model works for no-frills hotels.

Arriving at the hotel

tune hotel downtown kuala lumpurOn arrival the first thing you notice is the lobby, minimalist but well styled, it’s simple and effective. If you’re going to do something cheap build it well and style it cleanly. Two ticks there then as there’s very little here to even moan about. The lobby area felt inviting enough with it’s black and red decor. Like low cost airlines the branding and corporate colours are everywhere so you know you’re definitely in the right place! The staff were friendly and easy to deal with, giving us all the info on the optional extras. The basic rate is just the room which has a ceiling fan. Things like air-conditioning, towels and wifi are optional so you just pay for what you use. You purchase credit for the A/C and wifi so when it runs out you just buy some more. More on that later.

Our room

tune hotel review malaysiaWe were given our drawstring bags containing our towels for the duration of our stay and some shampoo sachets. Basic but all you need and you can keep the heavily branded drawstring bag, handy for a day at the beach or pool, if you don’t mind advertising where you’ve stayed. We headed up to our room on the second floor and used our key card to enter. The room was surprisingly cosy, small but had everything you’d expect a no-frills hotel to have. No TV of course but you’re in town to see the city not watch TV! Bed side lamps, ceiling fan and A/C, a well designed bathroom.

What makes a good hotel room?

tune hotels bathroomI’m a tall guy and it drives me nuts when you go to any hotel, luxury or budget and find the shower head is fixed at about 5 feet tall. i’m 6’4 (1.85 metres). Thankfully at the Tune Hotels the showers are nice and high, much higher than me and powerful too.  If there’s two things any hotel room should have, it’s a good shower and a good bed. Tune Hotels boast they have a “5 star sleeping experience for a 1 star price” and while I wouldn’t agree the whole room matches that statement, the bed sure does. Very comfortable and easy to sleep in. Most mattresses in hotels of a similar price have seen better days and are so soft your back has no support. A good bed is sure to keep your customers happy, no matter how basic the rest of the hotel is.

tune hotels kuala lumpur reviewThe room was by no means perfect of course but the hotel is currently renovating it’s bedrooms. It was clean and presentable, just had a few edges that needed tidying so it’s good to see they’re busy improving the hotel. One thing you notice all over the Tune Hotels is the advertising. It makes sense to keep room rates low by selling advertising space inside the room, even the bathroom had an advert for Shampoo. I didn’t find it too offensive thankfully although I can imagine some people would. Which would you prefer? A dull and dirty budget hotel room or a clean and bright one with advertising?

Downtown Kuala Lumpur

tune hotel downtown kl reviewOutside the hotel the location is great, on a cross-roads so fairly busy traffic in the day time but quiet at night. Just a short walk to the monorail which links to all the most popular destinations. Easy to get a cab too as there’s a guy in the hotel lobby that can arrange one for you. Just a 5 minute walk away are some great Indian and Indonesian restaurants plus a few shopping malls too. It’s definitely a busy part of town in the day time but Tune Hotels are designed for you to be out and about during the day and back at night when the traffic decreases. At night it’s very quiet so you should have no problem sleeping.

We enjoyed our stay at the Tune Hotel in Downtown Kuala Lumpur. If you enter with a mindset of a low-cost airline you’re expectations will probably be exceeded. It’s by no means a luxury hotel but what it does offer it does well. It’s comfortable, cosy and well designed to reduce costs. A real contrast to similarly priced hotels in KL that don’t offer the same comfort and service.

A big thank you to Biresh at Tune Hotels for arranging this review and their hospitality. We look forward to sampling some more Tune Hotels soon. Keep an eye on our site for more hotel reviews.

More information

 

La Java Bleue in Kampot

La Java Bleue Hotel Kampot review

Where to stay in Kampot CambodiaKampot has changed a lot in recent years. Once the last a stronghold of the Khmer Rouge, it was a city heavily ruined and largely evacuated of it’s residents. Thankfully since then tourism is steadily increasing and with that, new hotels, guest houses and bungalows too. There is also one hotel I would definitely consider a boutique hotel in this peaceful Cambodian town.

La Java Bleue Hotel

La Java Bleue in KampotCurrently La java Bleue Hotel has just 3 rooms with 2 more being built across the road. What this does mean is an amazing attention to detail on every aspect of each room. The 3 current rooms are individually styled, in Colonial French, Khmer and Chinese interior. All to an impeccable standard I’m pretty sure you wont find anywhere else in Kampot.

French room at La Java Bleue KampotWe chose to stay the night in the French room which boasts a  large bed perfect for a married couple! Adorned with prints of French holiday posters and a wall filled with windows, all with shutters as well, it’s a wonderfully styled environment that invites you to relax and enjoy your surroundings. There’s also a sofa, coffee table and modern styled bathroom.

A personal experience

Best hotel in Kampot, CambodiaWe were greeted by the friendly staff at La Java Bleue who kindly took our bags to our room and gave us a tour of the hotel. They were very helpful and enjoyed exercising their English, even asking us to help them with a few confusing words. We were more than happy to oblige and it made for a nice personal experience. While our stay was short we felt at home thanks to the staff and the beautiful room. They always greeted us with a smile and a fun chat.

A tour of the rooms

Khmer room in La Java Bleue KampotOur tour of the hotel gave us a chance to check out the interior design of the other rooms, the Khmer and Chinese styled. Again they didn’t disappoint, with gorgeous bathrooms and all the modern accessories you’d expect from a boutique hotel. The Khmer room features 2 single beds although they were both practically doubles in width. There are some very interesting photos of local Khmer people during the French colonial period, beautifully framed on one wall. This corner room boasts so many windows you get a great view of the cross roads outside and the gentle hustle and bustle of town filled with more people on mopeds, tuk tuks and bicycles than cars.

Chinese room at La Java Bleue KampotThe Chinese room features a large double bed in a smaller room but with the added bonus of a private balcony. The large folding metal and glass doors of the balcony are wonderfully designed and lead out to views over the roof tops of nearby buildings and out towards the Bokor National Park. In the day time it can be pretty hot out there but in the evenings it’s a great place to relax after a shower and watch the sun set. The bed, as with the other rooms, includes bespoke pillows with images befitting the style of the room. I particularly liked the pillows in the Chinese room and the red lanterns hanging above the bed.

Doing something different

Accommodation in KampotAs the tourism increasing in Cambodia so do the number of hotels, hostels, bungalows and boutiques. It’s definitely a growing market and Kampot is such a new place to visit. This often leads to a lot of hotels copying the trends from their competitors. It’s great to see a hotel doing something different to the competition at La Java Bleue. It’s also great to see such an immaculately designed and maintained hotel, something you only usually find in the world’s best luxury hotels. At just $45 in the dry season and $35 during the wet, it’s a slice of boutique living that’s easily affordable. Well worth it for the beautiful surroundings and the friendly staff.

Check out our short video from our stay at La Java Bleue, Kampot.

A big thank you to La Java Bleue in Kampot for their hospitality and the opportunity to review their hotel.

More information

  • Visit: lajavableuekampot.com
  • Call: (0855) 033 667 667 9