My wife and I were recently invited to stay at Sol Beach – A wonderful resort on the main tourist beach of Koh Rong Samloem (i.e. the beautiful Saracen Bay – A peaceful relaxing holiday destination). Sol Beach offers a more luxurious accommodation at a premium price of $150 / night. There are now a couple of resort on Samloem pricing themselves in the premium category (see: The One and Moonlight), so we were intrigued to see how Sol Beach would compare, and how it aims to stand out in the long term.
Sihanoukville to Koh Rong Samloem
By complete coincidence, the Sihanoukville police force rented out all of the ferries for the day, so we had to take the ‘slow boat’ to Koh Rong for a change. Because of its track record, we can’t recommend you take this ferry, at least not till some time has passed and its record has improved.
We arrived to Saracen Bay on Koh Rong Samloem around lunch time, after stopping off for a quick drink on Koh Rong (we took a private boat from Koh Rong to Samloem to save time waiting for the connection – This cost us $30 between 3 of us – with more people it’s about $5pp).
The sun was out and the sky was clear – This is when the ocean is at its best, changing colours every 5 minutes or so, from clear blue to all sorts of greens and turquoises – Truly fantastic. We had a slight breeze to cool us down in the heat – The rainy season was just coming to an end so there are a couple of months to go before the sun is at its full force.
Getting to Sol Beach Resort
We were greeted on the main pier by the Sol Beach staff – 2 friendly Khmer men who spoke a good level of English. They took our luggage and helped us into a private taxi boat – Sol Beach is a 15-20 minute walk along the beach heading left as you get off the ferry – If you don’t have heavy bags, it’s definitely worth a walk to see some of the other resorts on the island. With heavy bags however, the option of a taxi boat is excellent, and is now being offered by several of the resorts on Samloem.
The taxi boat took about 5 minutes, and was actually good fun as we had to jump out into the water to get to the resort – A real sense of a desert island paradise is created. First impressions of the resort were great – A large Khmer-shaped restaurant with an expanse of similarly designed villas stretching out across the beach front, the exotic jungle wilderness in the background, a very clean beach with beautiful white sand, conveniently placed comfortable chairs and hammocks… Everything you would expect from a premium-priced resort on Samloem.
Sol Beach Accommodation
Upon arrival, we were asked to relax in the restaurant and were offered some complementary drinks – A nice touch we thought. We were then taken to our tree-high villa, the Sol Beach staff carrying our bags for us. This kind of service is not common on Koh Rong / Samloem, so we were impressed.
The villa itself looked very nice from the outside – You can see that a lot of care was taken in its design and construction. The room was better than we expected – A large comfortable double bed, one-way windows providing views of the ocean, a mosquito net over the bed, curtains to cover the glass doors, air-conditioning and fans, a modern western toilet with a bathtub (bathtubs are generally hard to find in Cambodia), a nice shower and sink, complementary toiletries, towels, and free water bottles. All in all, a very nice, western-standard, modern accommodation.
The only downside was that the room didn’t have a TV, like some of the other premium resorts do. Now, for me, this isn’t a major problem, but my wife likes to lie back and watch movies later at nights, so if I hadn’t brought my laptop we would have struggled on that front. There were also problems with Wi-Fi, as this is something relatively new to the island. All resorts were experiencing the same issues however, so it wasn’t just Sol Beach. Some people might also like the added luxury of a swimming pool found at The One resort next door. Personally, the beautiful warm ocean waters are all I need, but I do see the appeal of going for a dip in the pool later at nights.
The Beach Area
By the time we unpacked and relaxed, it was almost the afternoon, so we headed out for a walk along the beach front. Sol Beach is roughly near the centre of the island, so the main view is the wonderful expanse of ocean waters (some of the resorts near the edges of Saracen Bay are surrounded by jungle which adds an interesting aesthetic).
As mentioned earlier, the beach is very well kept and clean around this area of Saracen Bay – Sol Beach and several other resorts clean the beach daily. We were pleasantly surprised by the lack of people around – Although Sol Beach and the nearby resorts were full, there were only a couple of people swimming in the ocean and relaxing on the beach front – When some of the other resorts are full, the sense of privacy can disperse.
Sol Beach Restaurant
After slowly walking and taking in the peaceful tranquil atmosphere (all that can be heard are the ocean waves, crickets, and the occasional bird), we decided to head back to the resort and try out the bar and restaurant.
Overall, the atmosphere at the bar area is very enjoyable, with very nice comfortable furniture that’s ideal for lounging and taking in the ocean views. The bar staff are friendly and full of chatter. I must say that my Rioja was one of the best wines I have had in Cambodia. Cambodia, in general, is not big on its wine, so good ones are hard to come by. What’s more, it’s hard to find a red wine that’s served at the right temperature and isn’t too cold, and the Rioja at Sol Beach was perfect.
The food was also of a good standard. The fish Amok, in particular, was a very accomplished dish, and the chef is clearly very skilled at the Khmer cuisine. The western-side of the menu still requires work, but Sol Beach were creating a new menu at the time, so we’ll have to come back once this is complete.
Something that was a bit of a nuisance were the beetles that were attracted to the lights. This happens at some of the other resorts too (particularly the ones with larger restaurants), but Sol Beach are looking for a solution I’ve been told.
Movie Night at Sol Beach Resort
As we were about to set off back to our room, we bumped into Steve, the owner – A friendly American man who always seems to be happy and smiling. He invited us to stay for the regular film night hosted at Sol Beach. Ironically, that night’s movie was ‘Castaway’ – Very fitting given Koh Rong Samloem ‘s more ‘desert island’ feel.
After the movie, we went back to the villa and got a very good night’s sleep – There was no noise whatsoever. Unlike the main tourist beach on Koh Rong (Koh Touch), all activities tend to finish at around 11pm on Saracen Bay, ensuring that no noise keeps you up throughout the night.
The morning after we had the ‘all you can eat’ complementary buffet breakfast – A very satisfying thing to wake up to. Again, the food and coffee were of a good standard, as you would expect. Personally, I would have liked a selection of teas to choose from, and Sol Beach will be introducing these at a later date.
To conclude, Sol Beach is an excellent place to stay on Koh Rong Samloem if you want to see the magnificent views in a more luxurious accommodation. Because it is new, there are still a few things that need ironing out, but I’ve been given every confidence that these minor issues will be quickly resolved. All in all, Sol Beach Resort is quickly becoming one of the best places to stay on Samloem. If you’re thinking of going to Samloem and would like to Try this resort for yourself, book here at best price:Book Sol Beach at Best Price
Official Website: Sol Beach Koh Rong Samloem