Home to Angkor Wat at Krong Siem Reap (also known as the Tomb Raider Temple, due to its feature in the hit Hollywood movie starring Angelina Jolie), Cambodia has long been appearing on bucket lists. The country is part of Southeast Asia, with Phnom Penh its bustling capital. As a nation, Cambodia has experienced turbulent times, with complex political establishments — a history that’s retold in its many museums. But there’s also an unspoilt coastline, forestry, rivers and lakes, for those who like to holiday close to water. Many travellers combine a visit to Cambodia with time in neighbouring Vietnam or Thailand.
Koh Rong Islands
Song Saa Private Island
This Cambodian island resort offers accommodation in the form of thatched jungle or overwater villas, with romantic muslin-slung four-poster beds and rustic wooden decks. It’s the perfect honeymoon destination; secluded and private, with isolated white beaches and coral reefs. Staff can arrange extras such as a monk’s blessing, a flower bath, an in-villa barbecue, couples’ massages and sunset cruises. Take a seat on an oversized bean bag at the seafront Vista Bar and Restaurant; eat on the beach at Driftwood Bar; or dine just the two of you in a hidden pocket of the resort.
Raffles Hotel Le Royal
An institution in the city, Phnom Phen’s Raffles has been in business since 1929. Deeply elegant, it retains many restored original features, with modern conveniences like blackout curtains, soundproofing and a spa. 175 rooms also come with timeless amenities such as silk bathrobes, claw-footed tubs, ceiling fans and Raffles own toiletries. Jackie Kennedy once stayed here, a fact highlighted by the hotel in its cocktail, Femme Fatale, which was first created for her. This is served in the popular Elephant Bar, which also specialises in gin and afternoon tea. Then there’s Le Royal, the only restaurant in the city to serve the Royal Family’s Khmer recipes, Cafe Monivong, the Writers Bar and a poolside terrace for wining and dining.
Rosewood Phnom Penh
Part of the stylish epicurean Rosewood collection, this hotel is housed in the 188-meter-high Vattanac Capital Tower. At the heart of the central business district, its towering height provides views of the city and Mekong River. The property accommodates 175 guest rooms, a spa, 24-hour fitness centre, indoor pool and six restaurants and lounges. A sky bar – Sora – is a highlight of the venue, with incredible views, from its setting on a cantilevered terrace. And there’s a wide range of cuisine on offer; French comfort food, Cambodian comfort food, fine Chinese dishes, Japanese robata-yaki grill and sushi, steak and seafood. The Vattanac Capital Mall is next door, with the Riverfront Park just a short walk away.
The Balé Phnom Penh
There are just 18 suites at The Balé, a contemporary boutique low-rise complex that’s right beside the river. The zen-like grounds include a Buddha, a pink palimanan sandstone walkway, a black-bottomed infinity pond, lemongrass, spider lilies, aromatic frangipani trees and the Lee Kuan Yew plant. A true oasis, it’s a place to come and unwind. Swim with a river view in the blue-tiled 30-metre pool, or take a Khmer cooking class in-house. Private dine under the stars in your suite’s courtyard or on the deck and take public meals at Theatro, a destination restaurant.
Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra
Reminiscent of French colonial elegance, this premium hotel has 201 bedrooms. Guests here enjoy butler service, Lanvin and Hermes toiletries, access to a gym, tennis and squash court, exercise classes and a luxurious swimming pool. The sports club lounge serves healthy snacks and vitamin-packed smoothies, and there are four international restaurants, a riverside bar, a cigar lounge, a Champagne Boutique and a library-style Club Lounge. An excellent choice for those with children, the Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra’s junior family suites come with a separate child’s bed, a pre-setup tent, logbook and stuffed toys.
Belmond La Résidence d’Angkor
Set right in the heart of Siem Reap, this intimate luxury hotel boasts 59 elegant suites that cleverly blend traditional Khmer style with contemporary design. The choicest suites feature large balconies that overlook the towering palms and tropical greenery that surround the magnificent outdoor saltwater swimming pool. Guests are invited to unwind on one of the large parasol-shaded loungers while the attentive staff serve them a range of delicious drinks and snacks. Lovers of fine dining will also want to make sure that they take the opportunity to indulge in a meal in the onsite restaurant, which highlights the French culinary influence in Cambodia. Complimentary activities are also arranged for guests such as cycling tours of the surrounding area.
Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor
Dating back to 1932, the Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor was one of the first luxury hotels to establish itself in Siem Reap. A large number of famous travellers have spent time here over the years such as Somerset Maugham, the Clintons and Charlie Chaplin. While the hotel has managed to hold onto much of its original charm, areas have also been updated to make way for state-of-the-art amenities such as an excellent spa that includes six spacious treatment rooms and a fully loaded gym. Guests are also invited to take part in one of the weekly wine and cheese-making workshops. Traditional Khmer dance performances are also held in the large garden in the evening and guests have the chance to take in one of these unforgettable performances while they dine in style.
Phum Baitang Resort
Guests at Phum Baitang Resort are treated to a unique way to explore Khmer culture without even having to stir from their sun lounger. This impressive luxury resort has been modelled on a traditional Cambodian village and comes complete with wooden villas that are reminiscent of local farmhouses and are set in a lush rice field scattered with palm trees. Some of the villas boast private swimming pools and guests are treated to butler service. While the onsite restaurant is excellent, there will be no need for guests to move a muscle as they can choose to have their choice of dishes brought right to them on their private veranda.
Park Hyatt Siem Reap
People who enjoy messing about in the water are sure to love the series of interconnected pools that form the heart of the Park Hyatt Siem Reap. This provides the perfect place for guests to keep their cool when the Cambodia sun beats strong. The aquamarine water is highlighted by crisp and clean surrounding walls and lush green plants. There will be no need to stir far from the water, as a number of large dining platforms have even been created at the water’s edge for guests to make use of.
Hôtel Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Golf & Spa Resort
People who are looking for a way to get back into the swing of things while they surround themselves with pure luxury are sure to love staying at this elegant establishment. This is by far the largest luxury resort in the whole of Siem Reap and the 280 guestrooms are situated around a picturesque lotus pond. The colonial-inspired architecture is combined with traditional Khmer elements to create a very stylish and chic getaway. Guests who are searching for pure pampering can enjoy a range of spa treatments here, unwind beside the enormous outdoor swimming pool and take advantage of the complimentary chauffeur-driven transfers to and from Poketheera Country Club.