07 June 2012

Rules & regulations and bad service (Frangipani Fine Arts Hotel)

Alley to the street from the Hotel
I had already shared what the room of the Frangipani Fine Arts Hotel in Phnom Penh looked like in my last post. Where it gets really nasty is when we checked into the hotel. 

I have been to many Hotels around the world and in a lot of countries in Asia and have checked in without any trouble. I had booked a room for two people online. Yet the staff of the hotel was surprised when I actually checked in two people, which was a bit awkward for me. 

I had booked a Junior Suite for me and my tour guide, so we do not lose any time for him to travel to and from the Hotel, plus my guide is from another city and had just traveled 8 hours to meet me at the Hotel. The staff at the reception seemed to have never checked in two people since they were debating where to write the name of the second person (my guide). They demanded ID's which is fine and which I have had to provide in all other Hotels as well but they seemed to be very unhappy about the fact that two men checked in, one being a European and one being a Cambodian.

After filling out the check-in form, I was immediately given a paper titled "Hotel Policies":

I. Frangipani Villas are Absolutely Against Sex Tourism

II. Visitors are not allowed to go into guest's rooms

III. - V. were considering Cancellation, No Show, Check-in and check-out and Non-smoking, which were all fine.

In fact all of the rules were fine with me since I did not consider myself a sex tourist and I had not planned to have a visitor in the room, though rule II sounded strange since I stayed for two weeks and I might have had other people meet me here and not wanting to sit in the hotel's tiny cafe. There was also no comparable nice large lobby or hotel bar where I could host friends vs. those of other Hotels I had been too. But since we were both registered guests I thought everything was fine.

So I thought!!! When my guide left the Hotel to run some errands the next morning, they did not allow him back in the Hotel. Instead they called me in the room and said I had a visitor and that he was not allowed to come up to the room, where all his belongings were. I told them that he is a registered guest and had checked in with me and I still got the answer that it is "against the Hotel's policy"!! So I had to go down and pick him up!  That already was a bit strange to me, but I was not going to make a big fuss about it.

So we were visiting the Royal Palace and the Museum, had dinner and walked back to the Hotel in the evening. And the staff of the Hotel again did not allow my guide to enter the Hotel and the room. I told the night staff that he should check the computer and that we are both registered guests. So, after checking the computer I was only met with a very unpleasant face and a "good night" comment and we were allowed to go up to the room.

Having breakfast the next morning, I was confronted with the most unfriendly staff of all my Asian trips to date. Nobody said a word, nobody said good morning or even looked at us. And this is when I lost it and stormed into the lobby to demand an explanation to what had happened the day before, the night before and just now! I told the hotel that their service is the worst I had ever experienced and that their racist behaviour towards one of their own people will make me want to check out immediately.

I demanded to speak to the manager, who was not willing to speak to me at that early hour. 10 minutes later I was allowed to speak with a supervisor, who apologized and asked if I wanted to check out. When I said yes, he told me that I can do that, but I would have to pay the entire bill for the full 14 days I had booked the Hotel for!!! Just unbelievable how the Frangipani Fine Arts Hotel treats it's customers. Of course I would not do that and pay a huge bill for nothing!

Later that day some of the receptionist of the Hotel apologized to me and my tour guide and the rest of the staff tried to be nice. However, looking at their faces, I could see that it was just a fake smile and I decided to just make the best I could over the next two weeks. What bothers me the most is that the hotel's management never even attempted to speak with me or apologize.

Restaurant and food:
Hotel's restaurant in the court yard
The Hotel has a very small restaurant. The food selection wasn't spectacular and I only had one dish there on the first night. We did have breakfast there though for most of the days and the options we had were very very limited. We had to fill out a form after taking our seats which required Name, Room Number, Signature, Day and Time!!! And then we had some very limited options of what we can have for a breakfast. The only variety was really how the eggs are prepared: fried, scrambled, omelet or boiled. Which might be ok for one day or two but not for two weeks. We even decided to skip the breakfast on some days and eat outside the Hotel. Filling out the form though and having to sign it, cracked me up!!

Speaking is still allowed though!
Like I said in the beginning, the Hotel is a pure concrete structure with a no thrills atmosphere. The stairs up are wooden and naturally make a lot of noise when one walks up with regular shoes. But the Frangipani Fine Arts Hotel even has signs on the walls for that and reminds customer to soften their steps :-) I would not have been surprised to find another sign which advises against having a conversation on the stairways, but who knows, maybe after reading this blog, they will add it.

Usually Hotels have a number of taxis waiting outside or if there is none, they will call one for you. For the Frangipani Fine Arts Hotel it does not stop there. They see the tuk tuks and cars as another way to make more money and it is not just a service to their customers. The drivers outside the Hotel are told to charge a higher price to the Hotels customers because the Hotel wants to collect commission from them. So, we ended up having to find our own transportation for the two weeks we were there which saved us a huge amount of money vs. just using the drivers which wait outside the Hotel. Since we traveled long distances to the Khmer sanctuaries and other temples in the countryside, it made a big difference to us.

As I am writing this, it is my last day at the Hotel and I have no idea yet how the check out experience will be, so I will amend this post, when my overall bad experience at the Frangipani Fine Arts Hotel in Phnom Penh is over.  Our Phnom Penh friends warned us that some hotels even sneak into the rooms to check on their customers and surely on the last day I saw the door knob turn without a noise and the door opened without anyone knocking or calling before. It was one of the Hotel's receptionist who said, she confused the room number....very surprising for a small hotel with almost no guests during the low season!

Oh, by the way...there is nothing "Fine Arts" in this Hotel. The only reason why they chose this name, is probably because the Royal University of Fine Arts, is a block down the street from the hotel. So, don't expect too much!

During our stay at the Hotel we met with local friends who live in Phnom Penh and other areas in Cambodia and they all confirmed the bad reputation of the hotel. So, while this is a bad experience for us on a personal level, we are obviously not the only ones who had trouble with the Hotel. I hope my blog here will help to prevent future customers from staying here and I will for sure share my views on booking.com and other travel web sites.
Don't walk to loud :-)
Update from Singapore: Check-out did go as bad as I thought. It took about 20 minutes and started with the comment I really love from the reception: "please take a seat, sir"...and I will never take a seat then. The hotel actually ran my credit card and asked me to sign a bill for 14 days without even printing or showing me the bill. So only after I asked for it was I able to check the bill. And surely they added beers and cokes from the minibar which I never had. I asked them to take those items out but since they had run my credit card already, they had to pay me back in cash. So, this hotel has been a bad experience from check-in to check-out!

Update from Bangkok: I keep getting feedback from readers who are obviously happy with the Hotel's service. Fine for them, but I am not going to publish it here on my page. This is not a Hotel reservation page but it is my own, personal and very bad experience. Anyone who has not experienced the racist treatment of the hotel on a personal level is hardly qualified to compare his/her experience. Besides that, Hotel service is a highly subjective matter. What seems clean for one person might not meet another person's standards. And that the Hotel is central and at a great location to walk to the river and the sights is something I have said all along anyway. I am currently at a Hotel in Bangkok which is about a third of the price of the Frangipani Fine Arts Hotel and I am receiving better service here. We customers have a choice when we book and pay for hotels!


  1. Anonymous8/6/12 08:57

    wow...thanks for posting this...the hotel looks so good on reservation web sites...I guess most ppl never take the time to give honest feedback...

  2. Anonymous17/6/12 18:00

    Thanks for the warning!

  3. " Racist Attitude", I may say " yes" as this was happened to me too when I visit a friend who stayed at Frangipani hotel in Siem Reap... As m not a good looking skin, they looked at me like a stranger...