Siem Reap in Cambodia may be a popular destination packed with ancient sites but the rapidly growing city definitely offers more than just culture and history to visitors. Dotting its landscape are some of the world's most luxurious hotels and the best amongst them are set amidst lush ethereal elements, reflecting the wondrous garden in paradise found.
Here is our crop of the most alluringly floral havens raised close to the archaeological enigma that is Angkor Wat, itself cloistered by magnificent greens.
12. Sojourn Boutique Villas
A laid-back resort located at Siem Reap's rural fringes where the community scenes are genuine and the elements are rustically unkempt. These are not luxury offerings, but will open your eyes to life closer to the Khmer terra. Besides 2 terrace rooms above the lobby, all the accommodations here are standalone structures with spacious interiors that are minimally furnished. The design factor of this property may not be its biggest draw but comfort and space are well afforded under these homey roofs that come replete with wi-fi, flat screen TV and in some categories, outdoor showers.
11. Sala Lodges
Sala Lodges is a part rice field, part tropical garden estate housing a handsome collection of Cambodia's most beautiful old houses acquired from the countryside. Entering these wooden heirlooms transport one back in time. The privilege of staying in one of these traditional houses is immensely enhanced by the lovely furnishings the owner added to up the luxury scale of this property. Deliberately quaint and raw, they complement the bucolic air of the property exceedingly. Such inimitable style that borrows from the old to elevate the old is highly laudable.
10. Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra
A behemoth hotel by local standards, this 238 keys property exudes charms and elegance aplenty with architectural details like stately arches and columns and a large, lush garden replete with comely pavilions and water lily ponds. A lot can go wrong when planting a huge property in a heritage town like Siem Reap and we are glad that Sofitel Angkor has averted most of the design pitfalls. Granted the dated rooms are not the most inspiring but the extensive lawns, large free-form pool and lush tropical gardens more than perk up guests' experience collectively.
9. Raffles Grand Angkor
The historic Grand Hotel d'Angkor was raised in 1932 to receive guests arriving to explore the Angkor Wat in an era past. Almost 100 years since its founding, this luxury trophy on the Raffles mantelpiece still captivates with its old world charms. A historic building that welcomed its first visitors in 1932, the property effuses charm and nostalgia aplenty even as the ravages of time show. The rooms, particularly the suites, may be minuscule by industry standards and are ripe with the perfume of age, seeping right through the towels hanging in the bathrooms but the Cabana Suites are the hotel's plushest, with a separate living room and a patio with access to the inviting swimming pool.
8. Belmond La Residence d'Angkor
A charming resort raised along the classical lines of local architecture, this petite oasis set in the heart of Siem Reap is a peaceful and elegant establishment imbued in Khmer hospitality. A beautiful property that effuses ethnic charms along classical lines, wood and sandstone are abundantly employed to their advantage to convey a warm and earthy ambience. The low-rise wooden buildings are well integrated with the lush gardens and a central lap pool shimmering like a luscious jewel is the resort's most inviting feature.
7. Viroth's Hotel
A hotel like Viroth's is telling of Siem Reap's evolution as an international destination. Contemporary designs and cultural aesthetics combine to shape a world class boutique stunner pushing the envelope on the city's design credo. A modernist take new Khmer architecture, spritely elements, some old and some new, were fused with the sharply contemporary lines of this 35 keys property. The garden theme is not hampered by the space constraint but ingeniously integrated into the building via floral walls and vertical foliage. The spacious pool view suites installed with shimmery black mosaic tubs and lush terraces are our favourite.
A tropical haven enveloped by verdant landscapes at the fringe of town, Templation's inventory of cavernous, plush suites and villas anchors itself as one of Siem Reap's true and best resort. The villas here are some of the biggest in town and are a complete departure from the usual heritage style establishments. Conceptually contemporary, the accommodations here are raised stark and clean, refreshingly devoid of staid references to traditional themes. Most suites and villas come with a good sized pool, private alternatives to the humongous central pool alluringly set in lushness.
5. Park Hyatt Siem Reap
A gorgeous statement architecture that elegantly defines modernity within heritage precincts, striking Park Hyatt is an art deco jewel set in the heart of Siem Reap. This Bill Bensley wrought monolith still radiates with his forward style that puts it at the edge of Siem Reap's ethnic-resort precincts. The light bathed octagonal atrium is an inspired feature as are the black and white compositions integrated with colours and forms via shelves, books and zigzag carpets. So sublimally rendered, it makes the subsequent works of Bensley in this city reductive and garish by comparison.
4. Anantara Angkor Resort and Spa
Anantara's banner in old world Siem Reap bears all the right notes of luxury - elegant interiors, comfortable rooms and an inviting pool that shimmers like emerald under the Cambodian sky. The rooms here reflect the brand's penchant for playing it safe with classically attuned wooden accents and earth tones. The resplendent Anantara Explorer Suite, with private plunge pool, massage room, complimentary bar, and a gorgeous bedroom set with Jim Thomson silk panels, conjures enough regal accents that befits a king.
3. Maison Polanka
A charming property comprising old Cambodian wooden houses set amidst a plush oriental garden, this French conceived boutique retreat is alluringly rustic yet experientially grand. The experience of inhabiting an old Cambodian house is deeply enriching, more so when it is thoughtfully imbued with luxurious touches like the eclectically plush furnishings of the suites and rooms here. The glorious garden in its tropical splendour is certainly its chief allure - one can easily imagine light-bathed, gold-swathed apsaras dancing in its midst.
Once the private guesthouse of King Norodom Sihanouk, this restored hideaway is a regal vision of elegance and refinement, with a lavish interior birthed from the swinging 60s and swathed by clusters of handsome greens. A heritage property left largely as it was structure wise, the grounds here are generously endowed with elegant lawns and light drenched corridors. The suites are attractive modern nests treated to a starkly black and white theme, though quite forward in conception, is not incongruous with the cultural effulgence of the destination.
1. Jaya House River Park
An outstanding boutique hotel that blends the best of decor accents old and new, this resplendently sumptuous property is setting new heights for luxury hotels in Siem Reap with its outstanding conception and grandly attuned service orientation. This contemporary stunner exudes both the sophistication of an luxury hotel and the warmth of a familial dwelling. Fascinating old world accoutrements inhabit the bright open spaces whilst the roomy suites are skillfully crafted with modern aspects through Khmer sandstone flooring and rich teak wood details. A lavish hit of fabulous flora envelope the entire property; a balcony view fringed by palm fronds is an inspired touch.