Cambodia has opened its borders to vaccinated travellers and the temples of Angkor are blissfully quiet. This is a place you want to explore, soon.
Post Covid, we expect the typical Cambodian travel stereotypes to be forgotten.
Firstly, Angkor is not the quick layover destination it once was. You really need a week to explore both Siem Reap and nearby Angkor.
Secondly, Siem Reap has the best variety of five-star hotels anywhere in Southeast Asia.
Don’t believe Cambodia isn’t comfortable. Angelina Jolie and Michelle Obama will testify to that. Here are just five of your options.
12 suites make up this retro sixties-era resort, offering the kind of privacy and service that’s attracted Jackie Kennedy and Angelina Jolie among others. Here you pay for solitude and vintage cool, at a former royal guest house that’s been lovingly restored to its middle of last century heyday. Expensive, but the classiest place to stay in Siem Reap.
Zannier Phum Baitang
Angelina Jolie may have stayed at Amansara, but she lived at Zannier Phum Baitang when directing her movie in Cambodia.
Free-standing villas are based on traditional Khmer stilted farmhouses, by the creative hotel designer Arnaud Zannier. Check out Zannier’s new Vietnam property – the most stylish hotel in Asia. The spa is in a temple and villas have private pools. Soulful, original and highly recommended.
Bensley Collection Shinta Mani Angkor
Hotel designer Bill Bensley is famous for designing Asian hotels for St Regis, Four Seasons and Shangri-La. Shinta Mani is Bensley’s personal project and for 30 years he has refined his ode to Khmer King Jayavarman. For style and artistic character, the ten private villas with pools are unrivaled, although the service and overall hotel amenities are better elsewhere.
Belmond La Residence
Surrounded by palm trees, frangipani and bougainvillea, Belmond’s 59 suites carefully mix Khmer culture with contemporary Western design. It’s very comfortable and will feel familiar to anyone who has stayed in a Belmond property before. Reopening in late 2022 and always offers an exceptional price in comparison to Belmonds elsewhere.
Raffles Grand Hotel
This is where presidents stay when they visit Cambodia, most recently the Clintons and Obamas.
Opened in 1932 it’s a Siem Reap landmark, full of old-world European charms, almost the polar opposite of Zannier Phum Baitang in style. It’s grand, immaculate and very formal. Slated to reopen in 2022 and offers a supervised children’s club.
Visiting Siem Reap and Angkor
There are no hotels inside the Angkor complex and none of the above properties have a location advantage in terms of visiting the temples. Siem Reap to Angkor is a relaxed ten-minute ride.
Immerse yourself further with an experience not available to most visitors, such as a sunrise yoga or candlelit dinner inside a temple.
And plan to visit Cambodia soon. This will be a trending destination over the next few years.