Originally opened in 1932 in the historic Royal Khmer compound, this landmark hotel was the first luxury lodging in the area—catering to those well-heeled adventurers intent on visiting the storied ruins of the temples at Angkor—and has hosted everyone from Charlie Chaplin to Charles de Gaulle within its dramatic art deco walls. Set on 15 acres of manicured French gardens filled with more than 20,540 species of tropical plants, the hotel is a vision of dark louvered windows, ornate Khmer furnishings, and gauzy curtains, its decadent rooms and storied bars occupied by the same sort of fascinating types who’ve always found themselves attracted to this distinctive blend of far-flung luxury and atmosphere. With Siem Reap’s sights just out the front gates and the Angkor temples just a short way away, the Raffles has everything at its fingertips, plus teak loungers beside a glassy pool, with an endless supply of refreshing cocktails.
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In the heart of Siem Reap’s sleepy French Quarter, the Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor sits next to the historic royal palace, now home to the Center for Khmer Studies. It’s within walking (or short tuk-tuk) distance of this lively tourist town’s sights, restaurants, and nightlife—and less than a 10-minute drive from the temples at Angkor. The hotel can arrange tours around the temples’ ruins, as well as other excursions, both cultural and adventurous. In town, the most popular attractions include the Old Market, Night Market, and Wat Bo temple, while the lively Pub Street, lined with tourist-friendly bars and eateries, is popular with backpackers. The historic Foreign Correspondents Club feels more like an extension of the experience at the Raffles; it’s an art deco icon with classic cocktails.
Need to Know
Rooms: 99 rooms, 18 suites, two villas. From $280. Check-in: 2 p.m.; check-out: 3 p.m. Dining options:With six restaurants and bars, the Raffles offers a dining option for every mood. Living up to its name, the fine-dining Restaurant Le Grand features a candlelit dining room serving gourmet Western dishes alongside Royal Khmer cuisine, the food served to the royal family for generations. Peruse the well-stocked wine cellar with the sommelier to pair the perfect vintage with your meal. The airy and elegant Café d’Angkor serves a daily champagne breakfast and a range of casual Western and Asian options for lunch and dinner in the dining room and on the pool-view patio. Homemade pastries and picnic baskets can also be ordered for day trips to the temples. Next to the glassy pool, the aptly named Poolside Terrace offers drinks and healthy bites under the frangipani trees. With its overstuffed couches and wicker armchairs, the colonial-inspired Conservatory is a popular spot for afternoon tea or a piano-accompanied cocktail. Dine on a Khmer buffet and Asian-fusion barbecue alongside traditional Khmer dance and music performances at the Apsara Terrace. And, finally, the storied Elephant Bar, one of Siem Reap’s most iconic watering holes, attracts a range of guests, locals, and out-of-towners to swap stories and to people watch over classic cocktails. Spa and gym details: With a focus on natural, Eastern healing treatments like naturopathy and Ayurveda, the expansive Raffles Spa not only has a range of spa offerings, but also a sauna, steam room, Jacuzzi, gym, and locker rooms. Yoga and meditation are also available, and the 15 acres of gardens (perfect for a morning stroll) are home to a 35-meter lap pool.
Who's it best for: Couples of all ages with a taste for Old World luxury. Our favorite rooms: Each of the four Personality Suites has been individually designed according to the theme of a historic figure closely associated with Angkor, including the 19th-century photographer Louis Delaporte, and the naturalist Henri Mouhot, who brought the world’s attention to Angkor’s ruins. Each of these distinctive rooms has a private furnished balcony and a claw-foot tub. Expansive service: This iconic hotel can make dreams come true. For a truly romantic experience, ask about private dining at one of the Angkor temples.