After two weeks in Siem Reap, German backpacker Claire and her friend are checking in into a new hostel today. Standing in front of the building’s elegant facade – undoubtedly vintage but with brightly coloured windows – the backpackers cannot resist the temptation to snap a selfie.
The 20-something girls enter into the beautifully decorated reception, where they engage in another selfie session.
Western tourists may not love posting selfies on social media as much as Cambodians, but in a place like The Twizt, no one seems capable of resisting the urge to snap a picture.
“My friends recommended that I stay here. They are Cambodians and live in Siem Reap. They told me this hostel was new and was close to Pub Street,” says Claire.
“The prices are affordable and they have a pool and a bar on the rooftop. We love the design of the hostel. It has many plants,” the German backpacker says.
The Twizt - Lifestyle Hostel caters to “flashpackers”, backpackers that travel on a bigger budget.
From the owners of Borei Angkor, a traditional Cambodian hotel, and Lotus Blanc Resort, a Western hotel, The Twizt combines elements of Cambodian and Western cultures to dispense a unique experience.
“When we came up with the idea in 2012, we wanted to create a normal hotel for young people, but we later realised there were already too many hotels and guesthouses in Siem Reap,” says The Twizt general manager Ten Kanha.
“We realised that we have a great location, right next to Pub Street, and that the best thing to do was to create a luxury hostel with affordable prices,” she says, explaining that they wanted a place where people from around the world come together to hang out and share travel stories.
“Let’s go to Siem Reap together! Walk together! Drive together! And sleep together! Everything we do, we do together, even listening to other people snore!” a post on the hostel’s Facebook page says.
Decorated with plenty of plants, hammocks, coffee tables, and street signs, the hostel’s reception radiates creativity.
“The idea was to draw people’s attention. If you pay attention, you will see that everything in the building is meant to resemble the streets. We have lamp poles, traffic lights and more. We want to connect the indoors with the outdoors,” she says.
Kanha says the design is inspired by traditional Cambodian aesthetics, and that all the decorative elements are exclusively Cambodian. “Nothing here has been imported,” she stresses.
“The decoration and the style, combined with the services we offer, is why more and more people are choosing to stay with us,” says Kanha, sitting on a chair behind the reception desk.
Local tourist Chhir Pheakdey and her four friends have chosen to stay in a six-bed dormitory at The Twizt. She tells The Post they came here to meet other travellers.
“Staying here is a new experience for us. We love it here – it has a great design, and it’s spotless.”
Pheakdey, who works for a local tour agency, says Cambodia has plenty of hidden gems like The Twizt. “Because of my work I have seen many places around the world, but what often surprises me the most is my own country.
“We usually stay in four and five-star hotels. This is just a hostel, but I love it because it is very unique and I can sleep in the same room with my friends,” Pheakdey says.
Yem Ratha, who is travelling with Pheakdey, says: “The bathroom is clean although in one of the corridors there are only two bathrooms for men and women. There is a pool, a sky bar and many places to take photos.”
The Twizt has 14 private rooms (single or double beds) at $45 per night, including breakfast.
The hostel also boasts an astonishing number of dormitory beds: 365 to be exact, divided into 84 dormitories for men, women or mixed. Each dormitory has either two, four, six, eight or 12 beds. The cost of one bed is $10 per night.
“The Twizt Hostel is the biggest of its kind and we can say that it is probably the biggest in Southeast Asia,” says Kanha.
“Generally, Cambodians prefer big rooms where many people can stay together,” she says.
Kanha says The Twizt boasts the same amenities as a hotel, including personal wardrobes and safety boxes.
Guests younger than 15 years old are not allowed. “We try to create a more international atmosphere, and sometimes it may not be appropriate for young children. Also, we want young people to feel free to talk and interact according to their age. If there are children around, they may not feel so young anymore.”
The Twizt Hostel is located on 16th Avenue, behind Angkor Children Hospital, in Siem Reap. For more information visit their Facebook page @thetwizt or website www.thetwizt.com