Siem Reap is still the gateway to Angkorian Temples. Siem Reap, Cambodia, is a must-see destination for those who want to visit the Angkorian Temples. Three historic luxury hotels are available in Siem Reap.

Many travelers consider Siem Reap in northwestern Cambodia to be a must-see destination. Angkor Wat was a popular tourist destination in the Far East as early as the late 19th century. It is now part of the Angkor Archaeological Park and the World Heritage List.

Siem Reap, located five miles from Angkor Wat remains the gateway to Angkorian Temples. The small and vibrant city has everything travelers need including hotels for all budgets. Visitors can enjoy the warm hospitality and rich cultural heritage of Siem Reap, as well as delicious food, an emerging arts scene, unique shopping and a wide range of city and natural attractions.

Three Historic Luxury Hotels in Siem Reap

What if your luxury hotel, in addition to being conveniently located, had stories that were intrinsically linked to Siem Reap’s past? It would certainly add to your Cambodian stories when you return home. I’d like to introduce you three historic hotels that are ideal bases for exploring Angkor Wat or Siem Reap.

Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor

Grand Hotel d’Angkor opened its doors in 1932 to provide what was considered luxury accommodation for travelers who came to visit the famous Angkor Temples. Grand Hotel d’Angkor’s architecture was influenced by European and Asian architectural styles, such as Art Deco and French colonial. The hotel’s overall style and layout are similar to the grand hotels that were popular in Europe in the early 20th Century.

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The restored original façade of the Grand Hotel d’Angkor. Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor photo.

Grand Hotel d’Angkor became a popular choice for diplomats, royalty, and wealthy travelers. Charlie Chaplin and Somerset Maugham were among the prestigious guests who stayed at Grand Hotel d’Angkor.

The Story Continues with a New Beginning

Between the 1970s to 1990s, tourism and hotel operations were halted due to the Vietnam War, the Khmer Rouge and other conflicts. In the mid-1990s, the Raffles Hotel Group was invited to take control of the hotel. After a complete renovation, Raffles Hotel d’Angkor reopened 30 December 1997.

The Raffles Suite is located in the new wing. Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor Photo courtesy Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor

The hotel has doubled its capacity with 119 rooms. A new wing, which perfectly mimics the style of the original building, now offers rooms and suites in the same architectural style. The hotel is filled with period architectural details, including the restored ironwork around the cage elevator and the Art Deco railings.

The uncluttered, cool lobby is a reflection of the elegant simplicity of the hotel. The corridors seem to extend in both directions, seemingly to vanishing points. The Conservatory, which overlooks the garden and terrace of the poolside terrace, extends the lobby and provides a large lounge for cocktails and Raffles’ famous afternoon teas.

Raffles afternoon Teas are served in the Conservatory. Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor Photo courtesy Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor

Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor – Dining

The 1932 restaurant offers Royal Khmer cuisine and Cafe d’Angkor, which is known for its Champagne Breakfast. Elephant Bar, with its rich tones and cocktails like the Singapore Sling created by this hotel, is a great place for cocktail lovers. The Conservatory, which is already mentioned, offers a relaxed atmosphere for sundowners and afternoon teas. The Raffles spa, the modern Fitness Centre and a variety of boutiques are also available.

With its beautifully-landscaped French gardens, elegant accommodation, and refined service, including the renowned Raffles Butlers, Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor now offers the splendor of a bygone era to a new wave of travelers exploring Siem Reap.

FCC Angkor By Avani

FCC Angkor Resort By Avani, located in the leafy French Quarter next to the peaceful Siem Reap River has lived many lives. The Mansion that sits at the center of the resort today has lived many lives. The Mansion, built in 1917, was the home of the regional governor when Cambodia was part of colonial French Indochine.

The Mansion is the historic and majestic centerpiece of FCC Angkor. Avani, FCC Angkor. Photo courtesy.

The Mansion changed hands several times after the Khmer Rouge fell and the subsequent turmoil. The site became the FCC Siem Reap in early 2000s when the FCC Hospitality Group acquired it. This group owned and operated Phnom Penh FCC – a former Foreign Correspondents’ Club.

Each guest room has a nod to the FCC. FCC Angkor Photo by Avani

The Mansion, Siem Reap FCC, became a popular gathering place for tourists, writers, and journalists. It attracted international dignitaries by hosting film festivals and similar events. The FCC in Siem Reap was graced by a number of international dignitaries, including TV chef Anthony Bourdain, who came to the city as part his show “Parts Unknown.” Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Peter Arnett and British photographer Martin Parr were also present.

The Next Chapter

The resort reopened as FCC Angkor By Avani in late 2019, after extensive renovations. This brand is part of the international Minor Hotels group, based in Thailand . The hotel features 80 rooms and suites, split into two wings. Each wing has a saltwater swimming pool. The hotel’s 80 guest rooms and suites are spread across two wings, each with a saltwater pool.

Photo courtesy of FCC Angkor by Avani. Photo courtesy FCC Angkor By Avani

The Mansion has been transformed into a stylish restaurant, complete with a balcony and rich wooden floors. It also features rattan chairs, ceiling fans and a diverse menu. The FCC has added a two-level alfresco Scribe Bar at the front property. This is where travelers can gather to share stories and enjoy refreshing drinks. Visaya Spa is onsite to pamper you after a day of sightseeing.

Scribe Bar at FCC Angkor is the place to be. Photo courtesy FCC Angkor, by Avani

The guest rooms are filled with light, have clean lines and feature Khmer art and hand-pressed geometric tile from Cambodia. Women from a nearby village made the bed runners, chair cushions and vanity unit sinks as part of a community outreach program. The rooms are decorated with locally sourced and handmade items, including bowls, vases, love seats, and rattan or wicker chairs.

The Governor Suite features local textures and design elements. Photo courtesy FCC Angkor By Avani

FCC Angkor is the perfect home for those who love stories and enjoy originality, authenticity, and local connections.

Park Hyatt Siem Reap

Hotel de la Paix, a prominent landmark in the heart of Siem Reap’s downtown, opened its doors in 1958. It was widely known as La Paix and had an excellent location. However, many people thought it to be a boring structure. The building also served as a storage depot for rice from 1975 to 1978, during the Khmer Rouge’s years of killing fields.

The Park Hyatt Siem Reap is located in the heart of Siem Reap. Photo by Park Hyatt Siem Reap

The original structure was destroyed in 2001 and the American designer Bill Bensley, based in Thailand, was challenged to create a new and modern structure that would honor the original. What a jewel of an architectural design his Hotel De La Paix truly is. Bensley wanted the new hotel to be Art Deco like the original. Designer also wanted cool, hip and Cambodian-inspired touches.

The property is decorated in Art Deco colors such as black, white and silver. Photo by Park Hyatt Siem Reap

The design of the front of the hotel is based on the Angkorian Temples. The four pillars that make up the porte-cochere entrance are flanked by sugar palms and topped with steel vases which emit fiery flames when the lights go down. The atrium foyer is dominated by a statue of a graceful Cambodian dancer, the apsara. The reception desk is tucked away in the non-lobby. The property has ponds and pools in its public areas. The four hotel wings are arranged around a central courtyard, which is dominated by a 50+ year old ficus tree.

The central courtyard is a stunning view from the guest room. Photo by Park Hyatt Siem Reap

Luxe Design Drives a New Story

The 104 guestrooms at Hotel De La Paix and the 13 suites are spacious and feature designer woven rugs and polished Makha wood floors. They also have terrazzo bathtubs in pearl colors, marble bathrooms and antiqued pewter lighting fixtures. The art is a carefully chosen mix of Art Deco and modern. Martin Reeves’ collection of infrared photos of the Angkor complex and locals taken by British fine art photographer Martin Reeves is contemporary and Cambodian.

Bill Bensley’s designs are evident in the design of this pool, which is one of two available to hotel guests. Park Hyatt Siem Reap Photo

Two outdoor pools are available for recreation: a saltwater lap-pool and a freeform pool that is perfect for relaxing and lazing around. The Dining Room offers a unique mix of French and Khmer cuisine. The Living Room Lounge, with its dark-timbered ceiling and Bensley splashes in outlandish colors, is the perfect place to relax for pre- or post-dinner drinks. The Glasshouse Deli, a French-inspired café, is a bright, airy place to meet for delicious light food, pastries, cakes and homemade ice creams and sorbets.

The Glasshouse offers the most relaxed dining experience of the three options available at the hotel. Photo by Park Hyatt Siem Reap

This 21st century version of Hotel De La Paix has proven to be a success. Hyatt Hotels took over management in 2012, and after refurbishment reopened as Park Hyatt Siem Riep in mid-2013. Bill Bensleys design is a continuation of Hotel De La Paix, as Park Hyatts promises gracious service at a personal level.

The Luxury Hotels of Siem Reap: A Visit is a Must

It is a wonderful experience to stay in a luxury hotel and enjoy every amenity. The hotel’s rich history makes it even more special. The hotels listed below are ideal for exploring Siem Reap, the Angkor Temples and other attractions. Use Wander With Wonder to find your next hotel or plan your next trip in Asia.