What was once a Siem Reap watering hole for journalists and celebrities in the 20th century has now been reborn: On August 6, the iconic Foreign Correspondents’ Club Angkor reopened after a $7 million renovation as the FCC Angkor with 80 colonial-style rooms and suites.
The property, managed by Avani Hotels & Resorts, is centered around the former mansion of Cambodia’s French colonial governor, which was originally built in 1917. Although the mansion has since been restored by designer Malee Whitcraft in conjunction with Phnom Penh–based Bloom Architecture, references to its past life can be found throughout, from the whitewashed facade to the vertical blinds and Khmer art. In the new iteration, Bloom focused on using sustainable materials at the hotel: rain tree wood for bed frames and natural sandstone instead of concrete.
Thanks to large windows and light linens, rooms feel bright and open. Each one has been given carefully curated touches from Cambodian artisans, including woven chair cushions and textiles from local weaving villages. Vintage typewriters and framed front pages of regional newspapers are present, too, in a nod to the building’s history.
In addition to the refurbished rooms, elegant suites, and reimagined Mansion restaurant, FCC Angkor now has a new bar, Scribe, which the hotel describes as a “contemporary take on the colonial-era bar.” Built with copper, wood, and sandstone, the bar is surrounded by greenery and centuries-old trees. There’s also a new Visaya Spa and not one, but two, outdoor saltwater pools.
Another thing the hotel has going for it? Location, location, location: FCC Angkor is mere minutes by foot from Royal Independence Gardens and the Royal Residence, where the king of Cambodia stays when he’s in town. Angkor Wat—that famous-for-a-reason temple complex—is just 10 minutes away by taxi.
The FCC Angkor isn’t the only hotel news out of Siem Reap. On October 1, the landmark Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor—which first opened its doors in 1932—will reopen after a five-month renovation. Among its attractions? A sprawling, 35-meter swimming pool, elegant Elephant Bar, and manicured gardens with more than 20,540 species of tropical plants.