The first luxury accommodation in Siem Reap and to this day the most regal hotel in town, Raffles Grand Hotel D'Angkor was established in 1932 with some 60 rooms. For over 75 years, a visit to the ancient Angkor temples has been synonymous with a stay at Raffles Grand Hotel D'Angkor and indeed it was built within easy distance (eight km) from the ruins in response to the needs of the ever-growing number of high-end visitors.
For 40 years it hosted luminaries such as King Noradom Sihanouk, Somerset Maugham, Charlie Chaplin, Charles De Gaulle, the Sultan of Johore and the king's personal guest, Jacqueline Kennedy.
Renovation and standout features
Miraculously, the hotel escaped the ravages of the hostilities and at their cessation was taken over by the Raffles International Group. A full-scale restoration and redevelopment was completed in 1997 and the hotel reopened on New Year's Eve. Tenth-anniversary celebrations of the renovation included a display of the original green silk dress worn by Jacqueline Kennedy she wore as she allegedly danced through the grounds, much to the king's delight.
Nowadays, the 131-room-and-suite hotel exudes a distinguished air of gentility with period antiques casually on display and the old-fashioned cage lift is a standout feature. The hotel is distinguished by a combination of 1920's art deco, French Colonial architecture with Khmer objets d'art. Period photographs and posters seal a nostalgic ambience.
However this is no creaking, aging monument to the past: Central air conditioning, modern bathrooms and cable television ensure that Raffles has one foot in the colonial past and one firmly in the present. In keeping with this double-epoch theme, the hotel presents one of the most genuine Apsara (Cambodian traditional dance) shows in town.
There is a fully equipped fitness centre, a 35-metre swimming pool (Siem Reap's very first and inspired by Angkor's ancient bathing ponds), five restaurants and a basement bar along with a comprehensive spa. Perhaps one of the hotel's most distinctive features is its 14-acre park which features some well-cultivated 20,450 trees, shrubs and palms, lending a colonial majesty to late afternoon strolls through the grounds. Raffles Grand Hotel D'Angkor is a singular hotel; it remains a fully functional reminder of more grandiose, colonial days.
Rooms and Suites
Raffles has 48 Landmark Rooms; 52 State Rooms; six Studio Suites; four Personality Suites and two Villa Suites.
The hotel's Studio Rooms were created for guests on longer stays and who prefer a more residential feel. They are fitted with ergonomically designed workstations, full pantry facilities and superior stereo systems. Studio Rooms are located in the new wing of the hotel, and both king-size and twin-bed suites are available. Landmark Rooms, located in the main building, are furnished with a luxurious blend of Cambodian and art-deco themes.
The Angkorian feel to them is complemented by wooden floors, marble bathrooms and crafted four-poster beds and look out onto the pool or the gardens. Located in the new wing of the hotel, the Cabana Rooms feature a terrace with direct pool access with a private terrace and feature a more contemporary design. The State Rooms are located in the new wing of the hotel and provide a comfortable balance of modernity and classical elegance. They are available with a choice of pool view or of the lush green expanse of the hotel's gardens.
Four specially created Personality Suites are named after people who have been closely associated with Angkor; Henri Mouhot, John Thomson, Louis Delaporte and Henri Marchal. They feature memorabilia and original artefacts and are located in the centre of the main building and look out over the pool. The suites also come with an original claw-footed bathtub, a private balcony and are all fitted with a king-size bed. The two Villa Suites have stylish resort decor and are ideal for residents who prefer more space and privacy.
Villa Uma and Villa Kama are located in the hotel's inner gardens and offer a view of the swimming pool. Each villa has one master bedroom with a king-size four-poster bed, one bedroom with two twin beds and a spacious living room and dining area. All three rooms are beautifully decorated with original Angkorian artefacts, antique furniture, Persian-style carpets and wooden floors. The two en-suite bathrooms have an original claw-footed bathtub and separate shower unit. Each villa has full pantry facilities and a private wine cellar.
Raffles Grand Hotel D'Angkor regularly features on the Condé Nast Traveler Gold List and scored an impressive 94 out of 100 in the 2008 list.