Anantara Angkor Resort & Spa is where you should stay in Siem Reap
After exploring huge temples and quaint markets, this little gem of a hotel is the perfect oasis of tranquility and relaxation in Siem Reap.
First a caveat: If you like being in the centre of the action when you’re on vacation, this charming hotel is not for you. But if you’re like us who love to get away from everything, then Anantara Angkor Resort & Spa is perfect.
Not to say that the hotel is far off the beaten track, because it isn’t.
The fabulously designed all-suite hotel is only about 10 minutes, give or take, from the international airport and about 20 minutes from Siem Reap’s most famous attraction – UNESCO World Heritage Site Angkor Wat and the surrounding temple complex. For those wanting a slice of the bustle of Siem Reap, the old town, art villages, and markets are just a
tuk-tuk ride away.You don’t even have to hail a tuk-tuk – or remork-motos, as the Cambodians call them – because Anantara has a dedicated tuk-tuk service that can take you to wherever you want to go for free. It’s part of the hotel’s personalised service.
Minor Hotels doesn’t really market its first outpost in Cambodia as a couples-only retreat, but the small intimate property has a warm and private vibe that feels like you’re staying in your own villa. The intimate, homey feel is deliberate. Done up like a grand Khmer villa, with well-designed and -appointed suites set around an open courtyard and a pool, the hotel exudes privacy and elegance, with local design elements balanced by modern art elements like the Henry Moore-esque giant sculpture of a mother and child by the pool.
For a small property – there are only 39 suites – the hotel conveys a sense of space and place in both the public areas and suites, which adds to its overall elegant opulence.
Upon check-in, guests are greeted with a “welcome home” by the friendly staff and then whisked off for a refreshing welcome drink and foot bath ritual at the luxurious spa, which has five treatment rooms, a wet room, steam room and a hot tub.
There are only two restaurants in the property, but these are more than enough. The newly refurbished Chi Restaurant and Bar offers a well-curated and delicious menu of reinterpreted Khmer cuisine by the talented Chef Kien Wagner, whose love for Khmer cuisine is evident in his dishes. Try his signature Lok-Lak stir-fry, which hews true to the traditional dish, even
though he uses US beef. Also a must-try is the excellent braised lamb shank curry saraman served with a crunchy baguette. The only drawback – if one can even call it that – to a meal at Chi (which is Cambodian for “spice”) is that the portions are huge and meant for sharing.
A nice touch to dinner is the tableside drinks bar, in which the bar literally is rolled over to you so you can watch the friendly bartender mix your cocktails tableside. For those who prefer wine, the restaurant has a decent wine selection.
The restaurant also does a very good breakfast, with both buffet and a la carte options included. If you don’t fancy anything in the breakfast spread, just tell the servers and they will make it for you. A selection of freshly baked breads are served to you tableside.
For casual drinks and snacks, L Lounge is the perfect place to go. Indulge in the canapés and cocktails as you catch your breath in between temple tours or shopping excursions.
But all the amenities will be nothing if the rooms do not come up to scratch. Anantara Siem Reap’s 39 ground-floor and firstfloor suites are luxurious, all done up in hardwood floors and dark wood furniture. The Khmer touches – wall panels, replica statuettes, reclining sofas, clawfoot tubs with fragrant local herbs – mix in beautifully with the modern upgrades – entertainment system, safe, wi-fi and free minibar.
While the hotel bills all the rooms as suites, not all suites are created equal. Inspired by famous explorers Henri Mouhot and Jim Thompson, Anantara’s “presidential” suites are nothing short of luxurious. Inspired by the French naturalist who explored Angkor Wat and shared his explorations with the world, the Henri Mouhot Suite is the larger of the two. It has two bedrooms and can accommodate six guests. The Anantara Explorer Suite is inspired by the famous Jim Thompson (yes, him of the Thai silk). Both suites are designed like a traditional Khmer summer home, with silk drapes, indoor and outdoor space, a lush tropical garden with plunge pool. The lounge has a wine fridge, and the marble bathrooms have double vanities, tubs and rainshowers. There is also a separate spa room with a Jacuzzi and massage area.
Anantara is famous for its personalised service, and the same can be said for Anantara Angkor. Experience butlers will attend to your every need and suggest activities that you might want to do or see. Should you want a trip to Angkor Wat and the temples, the hotel can arrange that for you, which will include a packed breakfast (for the dawn viewing of Angkor Wat), a car and a knowledgeable guide – called a Temple Guru – to take you around. Curated shopping expeditions led by your own Streetwise Guru are also available should you request it.
Those who are more culinary-inclined might want to enroll in a cooking class at Spice Spoons with the chef. This includes a trip to a local market, where Chef Kien will help you buy ingredients and explain the different ingredients used in Cambodian cooking. It’s an eye-opening experience for those who are not familiar with Khmer dishes.
Aside from this, you may request from an array of curated experiences that Anantara has lined up for its guests. Should you want something special, the hotel will go out of its way to create one for you.
Experience butlers will attend to your every need and suggest activities that you might want to do or see.
LEFT: Sign up for a cooking class at Spice Spoons, where the chef will introduce you to the delicious flavours of Cambodian cuisine NEXT PAGE, TOP: The villas all overlook the lovely saltwater pool, dominated by a mother and child sculpture. This is a perfect spot to have a drink and some snacks on a hot afternoonBOTTOM: Interiors of Chi Restaurant and Bar