Siem Reap, French Quarter, Cambodia – July 2017
Tucked away on the outskirts of Siem Reap in the French Quarter lies the tranquil Amansara. Blink and you'd miss it, Amansara resembles more a garden compound than a hotel. Formerly the grounds of Cambodian King Sihanouk's guesthouse, this 1960's property once hosted Jackie Onassis and French President Charles de Gaulle before being turned in to a lush retreat by the Aman group.
Detail and experience is key at Amansara and it starts with your vintage stretch Mercedes transfer. It's hard not to feel a little regal as you're transported down the tree-lined roads of Siem Reap. Whisked directly to your room, a personal attendant will handle check-in while you snack on rice paper rolls and mini sliders that lie waiting on your dining table.
Breakfast is served in the circular dining room and the menu offers both traditional Khmer and western dishes. All dietary requirements are catered for and your likes and dislikes are remembered, right down to a slice of lemon in your tea. The Khmer cuisine at Amansara is a huge drawcard with chefs nailing the subtle flavours to exacting standards. A green curry is mild and full of delicate herbs, completely surprising any expectations of a typical Thai version and a chicken noodle soup comes with dumplings in a broth that will heal your soul.
Book in for the Khmer Village House experience, where guests are taken off-site to a traditional Cambodian house-cum-private restaurant (decked out with aman amenities). Dinner may start with champagne but the rest of the evening is distinctly Cambodian, with a feast of hot and sour soup, grilled fish, satay, organic vegetables and rice served up to a soundtrack of monks singing from across the river. Decked out with twinkling lanterns, its an absolute highlight and a must-do for guests.
Rooms are simple and elegant, with a soothing black, white and tan colour palette. There are 12 pool-suites which boast warm plunge pools in an enclosed, private courtyard. The bathrooms feature double sinks and a giant bath tub which is filled each evening by your personal attendant.
Temple exploring should only be done the Amansara way, with a private guide and driver to skip the queues. There's nothing like entering Angkor Wat at sunrise via the rear entrance to marvel at the temple in peace, blissfully unaware of the crowds congregating around the front. The Amansara guides are knowledgeable and are in tune to your needs, be it a cold towel, a bottle of water or a light snack.
If temple hopping becomes all a bit too tiring, check in to the Amansara spa, where expert therapists will ease away those aches and pains with traditional Cambodian techniques and oils infused with local herbs. Each treatment room comes equipped with a steam bath and shower and post-treatment is best spent in the private garden.
Despite being only a 10 minute drive from the Angkor temples and a few minutes from the bustling night-life of Siem Reap, Amansara is an oasis that gives guests a taste of old world Cambodian glamour. With a key focus on the details, you could quite easily think that you were in a king's guest residence. From the house tuk-tuks on call for your use and a personal attendant, to the afternoon aperitif and cigars in the lounge, you're left nothing short of feeling royal.
THE TURN DOWN
ACCOMODATION CATEGORY: Luxury retreat.
ROOMS: There are 24 rooms in total, 2 suites, 10 courtyard suites and 12 pool suites. All enjoy an outdoor space, king beds, double vanities and a freestanding tub. Note - no TV.
ROOM PICK: The pool suites for their private plunge pools.
MINI BAR: There's a small selection of cookies and nuts and water available. Alcohol charged on consumption.
RESTAURANT/BAR: Breakfast is included in your rate. The restaurant is open and on call for room service throughout the day.
FEEL: Old world glamour.
LOCATION: Siem Reap, French Quarter.
RATES: Starting at $1090 USD plus taxes.
GOOD TO KNOW: There are complimentary tuk-tuks on call for all guests to use at their leisure.
POOL/GYM/SPA: There's a 17 metre central curved pool and a 25 metre lap pool located within the spa facilites.
TURN DOWN SERVICE: Yes, with a bowl of fresh fruit such as mangoes or mangosteens delivered each day.
GETTING THERE: Siem Reap airport is a 15 minute drive away and Amansara provides complimentary transfers for all guests.
I stayed as a guest of Amansara.