I’VE stayed in a few Siem Reap hotels over the years.
Since my first visit to Cambodia’s Khmer kingdom at the turn of the century I’ve slept in everything from budget bland to luxury lovely with every property providing a handy base to explore Angkor’s mysterious ruins.
But on my most recent visit to Siem Reap with Wendy Wu Tours I was lucky to stay at the Victoria Angkor Resort & Spa, the colonial-style abode in the heart of this tourist enclave, which is one address I’ve been bursting to try.
Siem Reap’s Victoria is my second Victoria property – I stayed at Victoria Can Tho Resort in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta back in 2000 – and I loved the bygone charm of that riparian sanctuary so much I was keen to experience the Cambodia address.
And I wasn’t disappointed with the Victoria Angkor Resort & Spa featuring the elegant and thoughtful design flourishes that made me feel like I was stepping back in time to the 1930s when the French ruled Indochina.
Vintage encaustic tiles covered the floors, armchairs and ceiling fans graced the lobby, lanterns lit the open-air hallways after dark, and bamboo blinds protected verandas from tropical afternoon downpours.
The rooms were slightly more modern – taking on a generic Asian feel rather than going heavy on the colonial style of the public areas – with the aesthetic promising a serenity that balanced the bustle on Siem Reap’s busy streets.
Guest rooms were set in three-story wings that roughly flanked the block’s boundary with the central space occupied by a big swimming pool – the perfect place to wash away dust accumulated during a hot morning exploring Angkor – and a leafy garden with lush ferns and flowering frangipani trees.
There was a selection of bars and restaurants, which looked onto the swimming pool with both indoor and alfresco tables on offer, but I didn’t have a chance to eat or drink as I only stayed one night and my mealtimes were otherwise occupied.
But I did make the most of the very central location, beside the Royal Gardens a single block from the Siem Reap River, and walked to the famous Foreign Correspondents Club for a sunset drink and rode a hotel tuk-tuk two minutes to the Old Market to indulge in a spot of shopping.
A single night was not enough and I have already made plans to return in 2017 for a longer stay so I can sample to the spa, sit by the pool, occupy a seat in the restaurant, and wander the halls at night to savour the stately style that seems to become amplified with darkness.