This luxury Kep resort a few miles north of Kep, Cambodia, is a perfect place to relax on the beach or unwind by the pool. For people who are looking for a tranquil or romantic retreat, these villas set in a lush botanical garden are ideal.
As adventure-loving as I am, there’s a side of me that longs to unwind with a drink by the pool and sink into a huge comfy bed at the end of the day. Luckily, there’s a style of rustic luxury accommodation that allows me to hang onto my adventurous credibility while spoiling myself rotten.
Samanea Beach Resort in Kep, Cambodia is a great example of this type of hotel. The resort is on several acres of lush property bordered by mangrove forest and looking out onto Phu Quoc Island in Vietnam and the Gulf of Thailand beyond. The villas are built in traditional Khmer style with tightly woven grass roofs and spectacular outdoor bathrooms.
The exotic grounds and the thatch huts make it feel like you’re sleeping in the jungle, while the rooms deliver serene comfort.
An expansive salt-water pool provides the perfect place to get your morning exercise, or you can swim right off the dock in the gulf within view of Bokor Mountain.
Heading to Kampot? See how I liked my day of rock climbing with Climbodia. →
What we loved at Samanea Beach Resort
Space to spread out. Many hotel rooms feel claustrophobic, no matter how luxe they are. My villa at Samanea was spacious and open, making me feel right at home. After several weeks of travel, it’s wonderful to be able to spread out and feel like I’m at home (if my home were very stylish!).
Huge comfy bed. Nothing else matters in a hotel room if the bed isn’t good. At Samanea, the giant four-poster is firm, yet comfortable, and adorned with luxurious bedding. There’s a mosquito net available but I didn’t need to use it during my stay as there were no mosquitos or other insects around.
Jetty into the bay. Walking the long dock, which extends far out into the bay, is a magical experience. The famous Bokor Mountain rises to the right while to the left sits Vietnam’s beach paradise, Phu Quoc Island. In stormy weather, the rough water and cool winds just add to the mystique.
Private patio. Sometimes it’s nice to go outside without having to leave the comfort of your room. The fully furnished covered patio at each of the villas at Samanea is the perfect place to sit and enjoy the gardens in complete privacy.
Looking for a great places to stay in Ho Chi Minh City? Check out our top picks for every budget. →
Unusual extras at Samanea Beach Resort
The gorgeous outdoor bathroom. As soon as I saw this bathroom in the pictures on Booking.com, I knew I had to experience it in person. In a place like southern Cambodia, where it’s never too cold to be outside, the huge outdoor bathtub is the perfect setting for a romantic evening under the stars. Honeymooners take note!
Environmental and social initiatives at Samanea Beach Resort
Eliminating plastic. When I visited, the management was in the process of revamping many of their systems to make them more eco-friendly. Eliminating plastic was high on their list. They had already ordered samples of corn straws and aluminum water bottles to replace the plastic they currently use.
Natural cleaning products. Chemical cleaners are widely used around Asia and their harsh smell can ruin an otherwise perfectly wonderful hotel room. At Samanea, they use only natural cleaning products in their rooms, preserving the chemical-free environment for their guests.
Eco-friendly garden. The grounds at Samanea are lush and peaceful, with stone trails curving among artfully arranged jungle plants. The thick foliage hides each villa from its neighbour — you could be fooled into thinking you’re wandering in your own private paradise.
What environmental cost does a lush tropical garden incur? At Samanea, the gardens are grown organically, without chemical fertilizers or pest sprays. They are also watered using waste water from the resort. They also have an organic vegetable garden that is grown in the same way.
What we didn’t love at Samanea Beach Resort
To be honest, there wasn’t a lot at Samanea that I didn’t completely love but since I like to go for full honesty in these reviews, here are a couple of quibbles.
Bicycles for easy exploration. What?!? How could we not love bicycles, you ask? I was very excited to be able to get around Kep by bike, until I actually tried to ride the Samanea bikes. Let’s suffice it to say they are very Cambodian!
Fortunately, the management are in the process of sourcing new bikes, so by the time you check in, they should have brand new mountain bikes for you to ride.
Lack of vegan & vegetarian options. While I wouldn’t hold a small family-run restaurant to the same standard, I expect luxury resorts to cater to varied diets. Happily, Samanea has just put the finishing touches on a new menu, which I am told includes several vegan and vegetarian options.
Need some Cambodia travel advice? We recommend these books:
What’s in the neighborhood of this hotel in Kep?
Samanea is just 2km from the famous Kampot Crab Market, which is an easy bike ride away (even on a rusty old junker) or a quick tuk tuk trip. The centre of Kep is about 4km away.
There’s nothing in the immediate vicinity, which is really the whole point of a resort like this!
Where to eat near Samanea Beach Resort
The onsite restaurant at Samanea offers excellent food, both Western and Cambodian, at reasonable prices. The convivial atmosphere of the restaurant makes it a good place to meet your fellow guests. If you’re longing for privacy, you can also have your meal in your room, or order a romantic dinner for two at the end of the jetty.
The Sailing Club.
The Sailing Club (at Knai Bang Chatt Kep Resort) is a meeting place for local expat families and a terrific spot for a romantic dinner. The dining area is entirely outdoors, with a few tables on the beach and most under a covered area reaching out over the water. Go early to sip cocktails and watch the sunset behind Phu Quoc Island. They have a couple of tasty vegetarian mains on the menu, which, with the local speciality being crab, is not easy to find in Kep.
The Crab Market.
Kep is famous for crab, so unless you don’t eat seafood, crab with green Kampot pepper is a must-eat dish in Kep. Either negotiate for a meal inside the crab market itself or visit one of the many small restaurants next to the market. It’s hard to choose between them, so just pick the one that looks most enticing to you. Holy Crab, So Kheang, and Kimly are highly rated on TripAdvisor.
Book your stay at this outstanding Kep Resort
Things to do in Kep
Being a very laid-back community, the real purpose of your visit to Kep should be to enjoy your Kep resort and sample the tasty local food. But, if you need to get out and do something exciting, there are a few adventurous activities in Kep.
♥ Happy mindful adventures, Stephen & Jane
I was a guest at Samanea Beach Resort but as always, I only stay in and recommend accommodation that I think you’ll truly enjoy! Some of the links in this post are our personal affiliate links, which means, if you use them to book something we get a little reward. It helps keep this blog afloat so thanks in advance!