Siem Reap’s Belmond La Residence D’Angkor Showcases Cambodian Luxury
With the exception of the sprawling commercial accommodation lining the National Road 6, the majority of Siem Reap’s hotels are as modest and unpretentious as the local people. Take the Belmond La Residence D’Angkor, for example. If it weren’t for the doorman waiting to greet you at the front gate, you could easily pass the white walled complex off as just another tucked away and well preserved example of Cambodian architecture (which it is absolutely is).
Just like the other 45 resorts around the world that come under the Belmond umbrella, Belmond La Residence D’Angkor perfectly captures the essence of its local environment and delivers it to guests in the most luxurious fashion. Sitting centrally in the city of Siem Reap, the Belmond departs from the ostentatious style of its commercial counterparts and fits seamlessly in to the local streetscape without losing the element of luxury.
The hotel takes its design cues from the Khmer history of the city and its unique natural surrounds, embracing the rich culture that guests travel to Siem Reap to experience.
From the moment you step foot on the property, the efforts to preserve a true Cambodian feel become well apparent.
Leading up to the grandiose main lobby from the entrance is a wooden boardwalk, skirted by a large, lotus laden pond and scented with rich incense – the same that locals burn to signal prayer time.
Inside, the main lobby is reminiscent of a traditional Cambodian wooden home, only on a much larger and more refined scale. Its roof is lofty and peaked, emulating those of the nearby temples; and the dark teak and basalt wood sourced from local suppliers makes up almost the entirety of the space, keeping in running with the traditional Khmer style of build.
The sparkling gift store displays and long concierge desk are just about the only reminders that you are indeed standing in the lobby of a luxury hotel and not a lavish family home.
Around the grounds, the same understated Cambodian style luxury continues on. Each of the 59 suites at the Belmond feature a private decked balcony or porch, finished in traditional dark Cambodian wood. Wooden floorboards, ornate wooden writing desks and heavy wooden sliding doors in the suites play even further to the Khmer detailing, while crisp white linens, a coffee machine and just a hint of marble in the bathroom add a modern touch.
Even the pool – the sparkling blue jewel in the crown of the Belmond grounds – is decked in the same rich, dark wood that the Belmond so favours. The 35-metre tiled salt water pool that lies at the heart of the hotel is guarded by an Angkorian heraldic lion at one end, and is surrounded by thick, lush tropical foliage for the utmost of privacy. It is a picture-perfect oasis for soaking up the sunshine.
For a large, renowned hotel chain, the Belmond does exceptionally well to not lose the essence of Cambodia in the finer details either. A daily basket of local tropical fruits in your room is a welcome, personal touch. Local artwork is displayed about the hotel, and highly symbolic lotus flowers make more than just a few appearances around the grounds. Every Monday morning, the hotel invites local Buddhist monks from the community on to the grounds to perform blessings, giving guests a glimpse into the lives of practicing Buddhists in Cambodia.
With the combination of the culture and local touches, and a shortage of conventional, gaudy signifiers of a luxury stay, the Belmond surpasses the experience of of local five-star hotels. But like all five-star luxury hotels, the Belmond wouldn’t be complete without at least one five-star dining experience.
There are two eateries at the Belmond, each with their own unique menu and feel. Breakfast and dinner are served in the hotel’s main restaurant Spice Circle; an interactive, hawker-style dining experience that champions the local Khmer cuisine in a modern, elegant manner. Diners can choose to sit in the alfresco area by the lotus pond, or under the air conditioning in the elegant dining hall.
For a light lunch by the pool or a Spanish infused Asian dinner, guests can dine at the hotel’s second restaurant, Ember. Here you can find a more European influenced menu with the likes of decadent burrata salads, duck breast and grass-fed beef on the menu.
Belmond La Residence D’Angkor is a 20-minute drive from Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport, and a 20-minute drive from the ancient ruins of Angkor Wat. Rooms start from US$225 per night and come with complimentary breakfast, daily fruit baskets and return airport transfers. For more information, see their website here.
Published 24 July, 2018