Dutchman Dirk de Graaff left a demanding consulting position in Hong Kong to become a hotelier in Siem Reap, falling for Cambodia’s natural beauty, smiling residents, and laid-back way of life. He ran the first gay-friendly guesthouse in town before opening two hotels, a boutique hotel and the more upscale Rambutan Resort, a 16-room property, where he’s successfully re-created the traits that led him to the country in the first place. The simple but stylish rooms employ local, natural materials, with custom-made, chocolate-brown and white-flecked sugar-palm beds (of eco-friendly wood), brightly-hued silk lamps, and private outdoor terrazzo soaking tubs. Modern Asian art—including comical pieces by Chinese artist Yue Minjun—adorns the walls. A lovely slate-and-stone tiled, tree-shaded pool anchors the property, its cascading water feature lending a meditative quality.
And though Rambutan’s flair is more than enough reason to stay, it’s the exceedingly personable staff that makes it a true standout. Guests are welcomed like old friends (many are on return visits); the affable check-in crew and servers artfully walk the line between doing their jobs and making time for a chat. De Graaff invests in his team—providing scholarships to further their careers in hospitality, for instance—and their reciprocal affection for the place shows.
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Rambutan is in the Wat Damnak area, which is away from the hustle around the Old Market area but just a short walk across the Siem Reap River.
Need to Know
Rooms: 16 rooms. From $79 to $109. Check-in: 1 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options: The kitchen employs graduates of Cambodia’s best training programs for underprivileged young adults and offers a European and Asian menu in its outdoor restaurant; memorable nibbles include beef with fresh Kampot pepper sauce, chicken curry, and the bacon-wrapped fish. The bar delivers fun cocktails like martinis made with in-house infused ginger vodka and an addictive lime iced tea that’s best consumed with your feet dangling in the pool. Spa and gym details: No spa, but in-room or poolside massages are a cinch to arrange; no gym.
Who's it for: A gay-friendly hotel, the place prides itself on creating an atmosphere that’s welcoming to all travelers, families included. Our favorite rooms: No two rooms are the same; those on the higher floors (e.g., Mimosa, Chamyulee) boast 16-foot ceilings and expansive views of the pool, while corner rooms (Butterfly Pea, Tea Tree) are more secluded. Insider knowledge: Siem Reap is changing fast, with new restaurants, bars, and shops opening in quick succession. Ask Tommy, the Belgian general manager, for news on the best spots.