Best and Worst: Places We Stayed

by Marc on August 5, 2009

I’ll do this one countdown-style, starting with the best:

Best Places We Stayed:

Of the 46 different beds we slept in, these were our 10 favorites:

10. Kool Hotel – Siem Reap, Cambodia


With super-friendly service, spacious rooms, strong A/C and a swimming pool, the Kool Hotel made a great retreat from a day of tomb raiding at the Angkor temples. Its slightly inconvenient location and slow internet service were the only downsides.

9. Baan Sukhumvit Soi 18 – Bangkok, Thailand

Outstanding location, great breakfast, friendly staff and fast internet – this place had everything we could wish for except a swimming pool.

8. Marguerite Junk – Ha Long Bay, Vietnam


We spent only one night aboard this tiny cruise ship, but the excellent food, service and comfy beds, combined with great entertainment activities made it one of our favorite nights in Vietnam.

7. America del Sur Hostel – El Calafate, Argentina


The rooms were basic and the beds not the most comfortable, but the friendly vibe, amazing staff, and delicious nightly barbecue made this place a standout in South America.

6. Cabañas Pikera Uri – Easter Island


Known to the locals as “Pantu’s house”, his wonderfully quiet and laid-back retreat was the perfect base for exploring Easter Island. Pantu, his wife Karin, and their helpers provide daily breakfasts with fresh juice, horseback excursions, and help with booking rental cars. Highly recommended.

5. AoNang Orchid Resort – Krabi, Thailand


With its huge pools, great views and friendly staff, this peaceful retreat was a great – and surprisingly affordable – place to stay at Ao Nang Beach.

4. Marriott Kamala Beach Resort – Phuket


Though the beaches in Phuket were a huge disappointment, this ultra-posh resort was easily the nicest hotel of our trip. We loved our big 2-bedroom suite, the amazing pool with slide, and fantastic breakfast buffet. During our low-season stay the resort was less than half full, making it even more enjoyable.

2. Freedom of the Seas,   Emerald Princess (tie)



For amenities, service, entertainment and dining, no hotel can compete with these floating resorts. Sure, they’re a little crowded and relatively expensive, but our days at sea were some of the most carefree and fun of the entire trip. And the views were fantastic.


But there was still one place we enjoyed just a little bit more:

1. Palermo Apartment – Buenos Aires, Argentina



With all the comfort and conveniences of home (and 2 bathrooms!), this place has set the benchmark for all our future travels. In fact, we’re hoping to find something similar for our new home back in Dallas!


There are lots of furnished apartments like this one in BsAs, and apart hotels with kitchens and separate bathrooms, too (our favorite was Aspen Suites). Much better than a hotel – and surprisingly affordable.

Worst Place We Stayed:


Luckily, almost all of the 36 other places we stayed were perfectly fine. One however, was so bad that for the rest of our travels, every time we find ourselves in some horrible dump – even years from now – we’ll still tell ourselves, “at least it’s not as bad as…”

Hospedaje El Tumi – Machu Picchu Village

This noisy, grubby little hellhole with lumpy beds, no heat, and a funky little stream of water running from the bathroom was probably a big reason we didn’t enjoy the famous archeological site. The fact it was also the cheapest place we stayed is small consolation. Learn from our mistake and avoid this one!


August 21, 2009 Nomadic Matt

number #1 looks like a good pick to me too!

August 21, 2009 Maria Mattsson

Wow! What a great blog! Very impressed. It brings back lovely memories.
We are slowly settling in back home in Sweden. The kids started school last week and yesterday we bought a new house.
Lots of love, The Mattsson family

August 22, 2009 Marc

@Maria: It’s good to hear from you! I bet it feels good to have a house again! email me your blog – I’ll learn Swedish just so I can check it out!

We met Maria and her family at the Kool Hotel in Cambodia. They were traveling through SE Asia with 3 kids ages 2 – 7. Now that’s impressive!

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