Siem Reap has a knack for time displacement. Besides the Angkor Complex, The 1961 is another address, or should I say another time zone, to check-in at if you haven’t had enough of the distant past invading the present.
Aptly subtitled “Today is yesterday’s tomorrow”, this 1960’s style villa turned art complex-cum-hotel is a place that reminisces. Each of the eight rooms is a gallery of some sorts depicting a person or event from the 60’s: from the Kennedys to Cambodia’s Royal Family, The Beatles to Khmer’s 60’s pop icons, the Cold War to the rise of art modernism in Cambodia.
But since the owners of this nook are Filipinos, there’s one about the Philippines. We were given this room, The First Lady, inspired by our very own (in)famous First Lady, Imelda Marcos.
Beyond the walls of our room, the past is re-imagined. Most of the pieces found in the common area are recycled, deconstructed, and/or reworked; finding a new purpose for things that have been previously discarded.
A destination in itself, The 1961 also houses a proper art gallery showcasing art exhibits, and a shop of interesting trinkets and vintage finds. Every so often, art events (concerts, workshops, theater performances) are also held within its premises.
While I would highly recommend Hotel 1961 to anyone and everyone, it comes with a few caveats.
Location. It’s about 10-15 mins by tuktuk from the backpacker district of Pub Street. If it’s in your itinerary to get happy pizza high and to drink til you’re wasted, keep in mind that crawling back to the hotel is not a likely option.
Uniqueness. If it’s not yet that obvious, it’s one of the hotel’s main selling points. So keep an open mind if this happens to be not your thing. I’m saying this not to appear snobbish but because I had someone told me recently that he felt culture shocked at Van Gogh Is Bipolar, which honestly baffled me, but what I did get about that statement is the firm realization that people do view things differently when it comes to these things. Indeed, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
More of a home than a hotel. Don’t expect room service. However, the staff will be more than willing to help you out should you ask for something. No daily supply of toiletries, either you bring your own or buy from the nearest store.
Now that those are out of the way…
The entire experience! I’m a sucker for anything vintage and unpolished. For people who like to frequent place like Cubao X, The Collective, 10A Alabama, etc… The 1961 is home in Siem Reap. There are lots of books to read, movies to watch, and old novelties to unearth.
Value for money. Spent only about a little less than Php 2,000 (USD45) a night for a room that can accommodate up to 4 people. Spacious rooms and comfy beds.
Filipino hospitality. The 1961 is owned by Filipino couple, Loven and Faith. I find it always nice to chika and to have as hosts Filipinos who have been living abroad for a long time. Like getting the Filipino brand of hospitality with an extra kick. It was very easy to talk and make arrangements with them especially those concerning transportation and early check-in/late check-out.
Vuitton. I think every guest in 1961 is secretly plotting to dognap him.
Just a couple of things, the bath drainage and the aircon. It can be really inconvenient especially for those traveling in groups. I hope they look into it real soon so that it won’t get to spoil the entire experience.
You can find them on Facebook or on the web. For room reservations, best to send them an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Cash payments or via bank transfer transactions only. They also accept Philippine Peso payments provided this is arranged with them in advance.