Our flights to Siem Reap cleared just a few days before our departure. And our first choice of hotel for this splurgey post-Christmas/Wedding Anniversary trip would have definitely been the Amansara. When the Amanresorts group of hotels opened in 1989, it broke a lot of barriers with respect to small luxury watering holes. We soon became certified “amanjunkies” and spent more than a dozen wonderful holidays at various Aman properties. We spent our honeymoon at Amandari and Amankila, anniversaries, birthdays or holidays at Amanpulo, Amangani, and other Aman properties, and The Kid even managed a trip to several Amans before the age of 5. Amanresorts is celebrating it’s 20th anniversary this year and I feel so strongly about them that if I had to be a hotel, I would definitely be an Aman. Then “real life” set in and a long draught of more modestly budgeted holidays were the norm. But we still aspire to an occasional Aman fix, and top on our list right now are the Aman(s) in Bhutan and Morocco. So more on Amansara (their property in Siem Reap) later, as we ended up staying at the Hotel de la Paix instead.
Probably ranked in the tier of luxury (both medium and large sized) hotels below Amansara, de la Paix’s rooms are 50-65% less expensive. The Hotel de la Paix is in the center of town, walking distance to the market and all the other hokey touristy type places. Siem Reap is NOT a pretty town. We were here to see the temples nearby and in-between, cocoon in a nice hotel, and perhaps a little eating/shopping… Many of the larger chain hotels in Siem Reap are located on the “outskirts” of town, several of them built quite literally over mass graves that weren’t necessarily cleared out before construction of the new hotels… or at least that is what several drivers or tour guides confided. The Hotel de la Paix was quite chic, a very pleasant surprise in the middle of all the grunge, and once you entered it’s front doors, a world of designer designs envelope you. It was a bit over-done for my taste, but still very nice digs… Hallways were beautiful, and always scented with lemongrass or other natural oils over candles…
We were given a rather large room, as they were aware we had a teenager with us, so it was very comfortable indeed. Nice little touches like fresh jasmine flowers in black wooden holders provided a pleasant natural aroma to the room.
The beds were wonderful, laid on a wooden base (normally a downer as springs are more comfortable), they were lined with a feathered pad beneath the sheets and a soft comforter on top. Definitely something to come home to and plop down on after a long day wandering through ancient temples. Everything was dark brown, black and white with fabrics in white or tan. The Teen thought it was wonderful.
And the daybed was converted into a very comfortable sleeping nook for the Teen, which meant we didn’t have to get two rooms… Artwork included beautiful large photographs of temples from around the area.
And the bathroom! Egads, open large bath (presumably designed for two fit newlyweds, not middle-aged pot-bellied manongs and manangs), enclosed rainshowers, toilets etc… It looked stunning, but wasn’t the most private of arrangements…heehee. This definitely looks better in brochures than practicality warrants. I am not a fan of bathtubs, so this could have been storage for maletas instead, or a nice cozy bed for the Teen, but different strokes for different folks, I guess. :) Little touches like rolled towels in vertical nooks in the shower area, lotus flowers all over the place, wood and stone finishes, a wonderful luggage rack that was so simple and so functional and big closets with lots of hangers all made this quite the home base for a few days.
I’m sure it helped make a great impression on the Teen when she realized at the head of her bed was an ipod, ipod dock, speakers and various other doodads to ensure her listening pleasure. We were also showered with cassava snacks, fresh fruit and lots of water.
And before bedtime every night, we got pates des fruits, chocolates or other sweets to ensure a calorific end to each day. Please visit their website for more views of the hotel, particularly the public spaces. They have an interesting pool, a terrific spa and a pretty cool lobby and garden area.