Jaillan Yehia

The Top 10 Stylish Places To Stay In Siem Reap

Written by Jaillan Yehia

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Shinta Mani

Shinta Mani, Siem Reap

From budget boutique bolt-holes to blow-the-budget palaces Siem Reap has it all – in fact it’s hard to imagine a single town in the world with a better selection of stylish places to stay. Here are my top 10 Siem Reap hotels for style on every budget

The top 10 stylish places to stay in Siem Reap for all tastes are –

Best Colonial Hotel – Heritage Suites

Heritage Suites, Siem Reap

Heritage Suites, Siem Reap

Heritage Suites is tucked away in a leafy residential area behind Wat Polanka near the Siem Reap River – but you won’t need to know this before arrival because one of the hotel’s USP’s is to offer free collection for guests in one of their two super-cool vintage Mercedes, which cause quite a stir in town.

After picking your way through shaded pathways to your private villa, each named after a different tropical flower, you’ll be delighted to discover your main problem for the next few days is deciding where to wash – choosing between basins, an indoor free standing stone tub, and even an outdoor shower in a small leafy private garden. Or head back inside for your own private steam room if you fancy it?

Climbing up the wooden platform onto the inviting bed after a session exploring Angkor Wat is a joy, and the soothing, sophisticated decor makes a perfect cocoon from the heat and dust of the day. As you would expect from a Relais & Chateux property you’re every need is catered for from mossie spray on hand at breakfast to cocktails on the legendary Thursday jazz nights, until the moment you climb back into your classic car to be chauffeur driven onto your next location. Heritage Suites Website

Best Retreat – Navutu Dreams

Navutu Dreams Siem Reap

Navutu Dreams Siem Reap

Siem Reap’s Navutu Dreams is the younger sister the original Navutu in Fiji and was borne purely by chance when the Italian owners flew to Thailand via Siem Reap; within two days they’d fallen in love with the town and decided to start building a hotel here.

Despite being land-locked the  flowing waters and turquoise tones of the Mediterranean have been brought to this rural spot on the outskirts of Cambodia”s Temple Town, creating a contemporary, tropical retreat. An Italian influenced menu is available cooked up by the same chef as the hotel’s highly successful Italian restaurant in town, Il Forno, and you can eat by either of the two pools, then do yoga to burn off the calories.

The minimalist rooms, ambient soundtrack and cool touches make this a great choice for those looking for a rather more European style property, with an Ibiza meets Asia twist.

Your own personal tuk-tuk driver picks you up and is on call 12 hours a day for your entire stay. ‘When you’re new you have to go the extra mile,’ says owner Giovanna.

Navutu Dreams Website

Best Resort – Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Golf and Spa Resort

Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Golf and Spa Resort

Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Golf and Spa Resort

Sofitel’s reputation as a French-owned and internationally renowned hotel chain precedes it, but with such a glut of hotels in this part of Cambodia the Angkor Phokeethra makes it it’s business to help you live the company motto ‘Life is Magnifique’.

Despite having over 200 rooms on this 6 hectare estate, there are over 5 times that number of trees, giving the overall impression of a tropical haven of water features and foliage rather than a concrete jungle. Boasting the biggest free form swimming pool in Siem Reap and voted in the top ten child-friendly hotels in Asia you’ll experience all the touches you could want from a 5 star resort here – from swim-up bar, L’Occitane spa with sauna and steam room and 24/7 babysitting service to the exceptionally-high standard of food, which includes Khmer, French and English versions of a refined Afternoon Tea.

For literal high fliers you can even swoop in straight from the grounds of the Sofitel Phnom Penh via helicopter – yet despite all this refined European-style luxury the hotel has a serious interest in the Cambodian community too, working with local organisation Agri Sud to help farmers decrease pesticide use and educate them on diversifying their crops, which the hotel then guarantees to purchase at market value. Très Bien. Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Golf Resort & Spa Website

Best Art Hotel – 1961

1961 Hotel

1961 Hotel

This retro art gallery slash hotel in  quiet spot on the other side of the river has a selection of themed rooms all designed by local artists, ranging from the calm blue seaside tones of the Kep and Kampot Room to the psychedelic Yellow Submarine Room via themes like The Kennedy Room.

The vibe is fun, quirky and rough luxe – some rooms more rough some more luxe, but all the fun is in discovering which you’ll get and the little touches they contain. After a day in the room you’ll still be marveling at the incredible attention to detail, and enjoying the relaxed-to-the-point-of-horizontal feel of the place.

This isn’t about mod cons like room service, spa or pool – 1961 has none of these. It’s about feeling like you’re at home, being surrounded by cool art, chilling out, jamming with the resident guitar player and experiencing the real Cambodia. There’s no hotel-style gift shop but you are likely to pick up some new art to adorn your walls back home or buy some hand-made souvenirs made by the Filipino owner or one of his band of creative comrades.

The 1961 Website

Best Guesthouse – Rosy Guesthouse

Rosy Guesthouse Siem Reap

Rosy Guesthouse

Eight years ago a generic 13-room Khmer guest house was taken over by Brits Simon and Rachel, and it went on to become something of a Siem Reap institution, and a leading guesthouse on the circuit here.

Popular with Canadians and Europeans but catering quite firmly to a UK crowd the right-on-the-river location means you can see greenery from your window while being smack bang in the town centre .

Budget rooms start from as little as $8 but the pick is the $30 room with private balcony. The bar and restaurant – serving some great British comfort food – is social,  wifi is fast, Khmer staff are autonomous – so if the owners aren’t around there’s no issue –  and there’s a commendable focus on responsible tourism and recycling.

The regular quizzes and raffles have also raised $10,000 dollars over the last 2 year for local charities.

A real traveller’s spot, Rosy will help you organise everything you need in a friendly and down-to-earth way, and because the owners have kids themselves they’ve laid on a children’s playroom to keep any little ones entertained.   Rosy Guesthouse Website

Best Design Hotel – Shinta Mani

Shinta Mani

Shinta Mani

Shinta Mani is the real deal when it comes to design hotels – a temple to modernity for those who love art and design, that’s housed in what was Siem Reap’s original post office building.

The 39-room hotel was completely reinvented in 2012 as the ultimate chic bolt-hole we see today, an achingly cool palette of muted grey tones, concrete textures and urban tiling, punctuated by flashes of orange which are said to represent fleeting glimpses of the monks as they move through the temples.

But Shinta Mani is more than just a startlingly trendy place to hang out, drink, sleep and yes, eat. While signature restaurant Kroya (which means ‘food’ in Khmer)  features modern interpretations of classic Khmer cuisine which can be eaten on one the four-seater suspended swings, the real coolness comes from the hotel’s not-for-profit foundation – there are 22 students in the hospitality training program and every single one to graduate from the last 10 classes now has a jobs.

And it doesn’t stop there, Shinta Mani is a massive part of the community here in Siem Reap – having identified the fact that  90% of the products sold to tourists aren’t made in Cambodia, the hotel started the Made in Cambodia project, a monthly street market right outside where Cambodian artisans can sell high quality merchandise.

Shinta Mani Website

Best Responsible Tourism Hotel – Soria Moria

Soria Moria

Soria Moria

The average guest comes to Soria Moria for 3 days on their first visit – but returning visitors come back for at least 6 days.

This fact can be attributed to the pull of the Cambodian experience or the warmth of the Khmer people but in the case of Soria Moria, the connection that the hotel offers guests to what goes on in the communities around them has a real part to play.

Norwegian owner and manager Kristin started the 38-room hotel with a 10 year plan to work with and train her Khmer staff so that she could hand over first 51%, then eventually 100% of the business to the 35 staff in the ownership program and that process is in full swing.

After a stint running a guesthouse and working with land mine victims, Kristin decided she could do more by offering a hotelier’s vocational training program to ensure that in the future it is local people rather than NGOs that are able to help other local people here in Cambodia; for example a Khmer member of staff  is responsible for community outreach here and was fully trained in-house.

And while Kristin is passionate about this business model for developing tourism in countries such as Burma, to prevent a foreign dominated tourist industry it is entirely possible to stay at Soria Moria without knowing or caring about any of this. Beyond a booklet in the room and a keenness to share the story with you if you are interested you’re free to simply enjoy the large rooms, Wat Bo location, rooftop jacuzzi and $1 tapas nights plus the superior Norwegian grub on your down time after temple visits  – where else can you get traditional Norwegian meatballs in Cambodia?

Soria Moria Website

Best Cambodian-owned Hotel – Frangipani

Frangipani Hotels Cambodia

Frangipani Hotels Cambodia

Frangipani Hotels have become the leading boutique hotel group in Cambodia – having started in Siem Reap in 2007 with a single villa style 1960’s building they now have a second in Temple Town and no less than 4 hotels in the capital of Phnom Penh.

Being Khmer-owned and run, a stay at a Frangipani is the perfect way to feel you’re part of Cambodian culture without having to give up any of your design pretensions – each hotel is completely unique, with a slightly different design twist, though all very much in a contemporary and minimalist vein.

Their environmental and social responsibility credentials are pretty impressive too – from using solar powered hot water and supporting local charities who give bikes to under-privileged Cambodians to sponsoring their Khmer staff’s professional development and vocational training it all adds up to a friendly, safe and welcoming environment, and a great base from which to explore the up and coming Wat Bo area of Siem Reap.

Frangipani Hotels Website

Best Gay-Friendly Hotel  – The Golden Banana Boutique Hotel and Resort

Golden Banana Siem Reap

Golden Banana Siem Reap

With a total of 26 luxe-meets-rustic rooms set around foliage-fringed pools, this genuinely laid back environment is just as welcoming whether you’re gay or straight.

The Golden Banana strives to offer a friendly and personal service to guests, giving a home-from-home feel and a cool but cosy vibe, whether you choose a red-doored private mini-villa with swing chaired-balcony or a room with an outdoor stone tub for relaxing come evening.

Top notch freshly made food at the open air poolside cafe enhances the experience and the Wat Damnak location near the night market but set just a little back from the tourist centre is excellent.

Touches like handmade tiles make the relatively new building (its been here for just 2 years) feel lived in and the contemporary Asian-inspired style is just the ticket for urban types looking to relax in stylish surroundings after a day of temple touring.

The hotel is adept at organising onward travel plans and is about to open a new branch, cheekily named The Rambutan, in Phnom Penh which will make the ideal place to park yourself if you’re headed to Cambodia’s big smoke.

Best Hostel – Siem Reap Hostel

Siem Reap Hostel

Siem Reap Hostel

This popular hostel prides itself on offering hotel style accommodation at hostel prices.

And with it’s own indoor swimming pool and a sociable bar serving good reasonably priced food plus some of the town’s best yoga classes, you do get a lot of bang for your buck.

You can take a room privately for just$18, enjoying your own small balcony overlooking High School Road and the location itself at the bottom of Wat Bo Road close to the Old Market is a good one.

No frills it may be but the place is clean, friendly and makes it onto many traveller’s wish lists – it gets booked up pretty far in advance so call or reserve ahead if you can.

Siem Reap Hostel Website

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