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I know I hadn’t continued writing about my Siem Reap adventures, though I’ve always meant to. There’s still a lot I want to share about how beautiful Cambodia was, and I guess, though it’s been several months (I’ve been somewhat inactive as a blogger this past year), better late than never. (Read about Part 1: Soo’sdai Siem Reap! And The Wandering Yellow Heels. I climbed up different Angkor temples at intimidating heights just to get photos of myself in high heels with archaeological ruins in the background, heh.)
One of the things that made my visit so enjoyable was the art hotel where we stayed: The 1961. I read about The 1961 in a blog while I was researching Siem Reap and I was thoroughly charmed. It’s really a small, cosy place, with 8 rooms (during our visit, there were only 6), but it was like living in this homey, artistic space. There were paintings on the walls, a gallery, handmade crafts, beautiful graphic art and photographs all over the place. I was looking forward to an unusual experience in Cambodia and this creative hotel was just perfect to start it with. You meet different kinds of people at the The 1961, too, where there are sometimes poetry readings, writing workshops and the like every now and then.
1961 is primarily an address for art. Housed in a 1960’s style villa which was formerly a private home turned into a local karaoke bar and then now being resurrected into a creative complex comprising of a series of galleries, artists’ and designers’ studios, dining & shopping destinations including an eight-room “creative hotel”, 1961 came to us as an inspiration to the “nowness” of how we all imagined the future to be in the sixties. The decade of revolutions in art, fashion, architecture, politics, and music, the 60’s was also Cambodia’s golden age. –The1961.com
And I loved talking to the people working there! While I was corresponding with Loven Ramos (owner of the hotel, with his wife Faith) to book a room, I hadn’t known that he’s Filipino until he started talking to me in Tagalog in our emails. Apparently, we had some common friends in the fashion industry and he was friends with some designers that I’ve always wanted to meet like Don Protasio (who was also based in Siem Reap). In fact, when I went back to Manila, Noel (Manapat) asked me if I met this Filipino living in Siem Reap who was introduced to him by Robbie Carmona and I realized he was talking about Loven.
View of the front gate
Kitschy, reworked, recycled and beautiful
Everybody rides bikes in Siem Reap. You can rent your own to travel around the province.
Anyway, I told Loven that The 1961 sort of reminds me of Cubao X and The Collective, artist hubs which I love back home, and to my surprise, Loven was actually one of the people who helped start all those in Manila. They started something similar in Siem Reap, too, called Alley West, but on our last visit, I heard they were transferring somewhere else, or just starting another like it. Loven and Faith also told me where to find the best ukay goods which I heard are better than the ones I can usually find in Manila. I was pretty sad that I wasn’t able to do that before I left Siem Reap, but as I’ve already said a hundred times, I’ve fallen in love with Cambodia so I’ll probably visit again next year and I’ll get that chance then.
Ultra cute poodle, Vuitton loves guests!
So yes, I was very happy with extra bowls of rice
If I still hadn’t known Loven and Faith were Filipino, this would’ve clued me in. It’s a play on words of a famous quote from a Filipino movie classic, “Bituing Walang Ningning” (Star Without Shine)
I love the staff at The 1961. They’re so warm and friendly and I really quite enjoyed chatting with them (and I’m not normally so sociable). When we had our first breakfast at The Museum of Forgotten Dreams, I ordered extra rice (a good choice if you plan on touring Angkor the whole day. You need carbs). I think the next day I did the same and from then on, they would always serve my friend and I extra rice even if breakfast were pancakes (and even if it was really just me who wanted all that rice, so I had to eat my friend’s share. So I had extra extra rice). Haha! I would also look forward to Siwang’s outfits everyday. I once asked Faith about it, and she said that Siwang was an avid reader of Garage magazine and that he even made some of his outfits. And who doesn’t love seeing high fashion first thing in the morning?
Siwang is so fasyon!
We were booked in the Kep & Kempot room, which was a pretty big space for just two of us (we were originally expecting one other friend to be with us). I loved the reading and movie selection in our room. Despite our busy schedules and Angkor touring, I managed to finish 2 books from the lot, one of which was about the Angkor temples. I only had one problem about our room, and it was the drainage in the shower that would get clogged. It wasn’t much trouble for us, since there were just 2 of us, but if you have more people in the room, you might want to switch to another if the problem hasn’t been addressed yet. But I loved everything else at The 1961, and our room was cleaned daily and the rest of our stuff were safe so it was all good.
Kep & Kempot Gallery
This mural was the immediate view from our other door, which freaked Aliza out (LOL). There are 2 glass doors in the Kep & Kempot Gallery–one leads to the hallway (this one) while the other exits directly to the cafe (which I thought at first made us feel exposed but it turned out to be very convenient for us because the room was so near everything in the hotel).
Even the bathroom had decor like this
There are 7 other rooms: The Kennedy Gallery, The Cold War Gallery, The Van Molyvann Gallery, The Norodom’s Gallery, The Sinn Sisamouth & Ros Sereysothea Gallery, The Wong Char Wai Gallery (I LOVED seeing the pictures of this one! Plus, I’m a huge fan of the Chinese director. Sadly, it wasn’t available yet when we had booked our rooms, otherwise I would’ve reserved it) and The Yellow Submarine Gallery. It’s an average of $30-$40/night–check out the list of rates here: http://www.the1961.com/p/galleries-rates.html
The Yellow Submarine – Photo from The 1961
The Wong Char Wai – Photo from The 1961
From the airport, you can take a tuk-tuk to the Upper West Side River Road for $5 and $7 by airconditioned car (rates as of July 2012). The hotel can arrange a driver to pick you up and then you can give the payment directly to your driver. In other cases, when we needed to find our own way back, I would say “to the hotel beside the River Garden” because most drivers are already familiar with that establishment. But I want them to be familiar with The 1961, too, so I made sure to always mention it.
The owners are also quite easy to talk to, so if you need a late/early check in/out, just inform them beforehand. We checked in late as we flew with Cebu Pacific and they were only offering evening flights.
I would highly recommend The 1961 to anyone looking for good accommodations in Siem Reap. It’s certainly not your average bed and breakfast, and it’s just a few minutes away (maybe 10-15 by tuk-tuk) from the Angkor Archaeological site’s ticket office. If by chance you booked elsewhere before you found out about it, I still recommend visiting it as they do have the gallery and a cafe where you can wind down from a day of touring or have brunch with a couple of friends. It’s really quite something to just look around and you’ll have a helluva lot to Instagram if you’re into that (hah! I am an unabashed fan). Sure, you can book a hotel or maybe find cheaper alternatives (The 1961′s rates are low to mid-price and well within a struggling stylist’s budget, not expensive) but I realized that had I done that, the experience of meeting new people and being able to chat with your hosts and the other guests so easily wouldn’t have been the same. Being greeted by the cheery, good-natured staff was always a great way to start the day, too. In Cambodia, it would be a great shame if you don’t interact as much as you can with the people–you’ll really learn a lot from them.
Address: Osaphear Street, Upper West Side, River Road, Siem Reap, Kingdom of Cambodia (beside River Garden and the other side of the river fronting Wat Enkosa/Inkosei)
Telephone: 855 63 966 961 / Mobile: 855 15 378 088
Believe it or not, we were still served rice with this, haha!
“Adorbs” is a slang I abhor on using, but if I did use it, it would be on Vuitton. I wanted to take this super sweet dog back home with me! I was told Vuitton had a sibling named Louis. HAHA.
We were playing Monopoly Deal when she just jumped into my lap and made herself at home
So who’s winning, huh?
Tuk-tuks are just outside so it’s easy to go to and from the hotel
Photos taken by Aliza Conde and myself unless otherwise noted.Related posts: