On the tree-lined banks of the Siem Reap River, in the heart of the bustling tourist town of the same name, a walled compound harks back to a more refined era, its sloping terra-cotta roofs, dark louvered doors, and surrounding moat combining both traditional Khmer and French colonial architecture. The grounds are lush, filled with large-leafed tropical plants and brightly-hued flowers that shade lounging residents from the intense sun and perfume the steamy air with sweet fragrances. Wooden pavilions offer breezy resting spots, where a refreshing hibiscus tea—or something stronger—never goes amiss; when the heat gets too intense, the most refreshing respite of all is a dip in the turquoise pool. By evening, gourmet Khmer dinners are accompanied by traditional dance and musical performances.
What’s most impressive about the Belmond La Résidence d’Angkor is that it was built only in 2002 and yet has managed to cultivate a feeling of Old World elegance. All the sprawling rooms and suites are outfitted with the latest in modern technology and luxury, yet they fit right in with their surroundings. The decadent spa, too, feels like a more modern sanctuary, even though its treatments use traditional methods and locally made products; guests are even greeted with a choice of housemade soaps for their room, and sent home with extras as a gift, demonstrating the hotel’s consummate hospitality.
Have you been here? Share a tip or a photo with fellow travelers.
As the closest urban area to the temples at Angkor, the once-sleepy town of Siem Reap is a dusty, seasonal destination that has something for everyone from backpackers to luxury-seeking sightseers. Set on the banks of the muddy Siem Reap River that bisects the town, the Belmond La Résidence d’Angkor is within walking (or short tuk-tuk) distance of the city’s few sights—the Old Market, the Night Market, Wat Bo, and the Center for Khmer Studies (housed in the former royal palace), to name a few—and eateries. The hotel can arrange special experiences, such as dinner at one of Siem Reap’s top restaurants, as well as before-hours visits and private guided excursions to the temples, a short drive away. Outdoor adventures such as cycling, hiking, and kayaking can also be arranged.
Need to Know
Rooms: 54 rooms, eight suites. From $245. Check-in: 2 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options:The gourmet Khmer and international cuisine served at the fine-dining Circle Restaurant can be savored on the tropical plant-lined patio or in the sleek wood-paneled dining room, and is often accompanied by a traditional Apsara dance performance. The more relaxed Embers, with its poolside terrace, serves salads and homemade pastries by day, grilled meat and seafood by lamplit evening. Sip classic cocktails while overlooking the Siem Reap River and the hotel’s lush gardens from the Martini Lounge’s elegant, open-air pavilion. Room service is also available from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. Spa and gym details: The Kong Kea Spa offers a range of holistic, natural spa and beauty treatments with local, organic products, and the relaxation areas include a sauna and an indoor plunge pool. Private yoga and meditation classes can be arranged upon request, and the hotel has a small, modern fitness center in addition to the large saltwater pool, open 24 hours daily.
Who's it best for: Couples and families who appreciate boutique luxury. Our favorite rooms: Overlooking the palm tree–fringed pool, the Deluxe Poolside Rooms are especially elegant and peaceful, with an oversized terrazzo bathtub and a private terrace. Get blessed: Three days a week, a Cambodian monk offers a water blessing for good luck to any guests interested in participating. All you have to do is show up at the serene lotus pond at 8 a.m.