I arrived in Cambodia following many hours of travel, several changes of flight and layovers crumpled and tired. My flight landed late in the evening nearly two days after I departed from the United States. As soon as I exited customs and immigration I noticed the humid hot air. I immediately saw a uniformed driver from the Raffles Le Royal, my hotel for the next three nights, and released a breath I had not been aware I was holding. He drove me in air conditioned comfort to the quiet city hotel. Smiling staff welcomed me to the flower scented lobby where, after about 20 minutes checking in, I was escorted up one level to my first floor room.
My first impression of the Raffles Amrita Spa was early one morning when I went for a workout (I was a guest at the hotel where the spa is located). The spa and fitness center had a common reception area and shared a building fronting the pool area of the Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor in Siem Reap. The attendant was friendly, welcoming and helpful. She made sure I had everything I needed for my work out and checked on me midway to see if there was anything I required. I found that same warm welcome early every morning when I went work out and on the days I went for spa treatments.
This well managed hotel, built around a heritage building and former hotel (dating back to 1932), had much to offer. My first and last impressions were very telling. When I arrived at the airport, two uniformed staff were there to pick me up (and drop me off on my late night departure) in a comfortable air conditioned classic model BMW.
After exploring the central area of Siem Reap and enjoying visits to several of the world famous Angkor Temples that draw millions of visitors to Cambodia every year, I was eager to see a little of the country off the beaten path. When I heard that there was a conservation area within easy reach of Siem Reap (90 minutes) I jumped at the opportunity even though it was birding low season. I went on a Sam Veasna Center for Wildlife Conservation Bird Reserve and Floating Village Day Trip.
This child friendly and stylish hotel in the heart of the city was built in a contemporary style with Cambodian art and decorative accents throughout. The hotel was conveniently situated on a busy street and within a five-minute walk of the central market.
Before entering Restaurant Le Grand for a midweek dinner we enjoyed amouse bouche and mixed drinks in the Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor lounge to the sounds of live piano music. The savory bites and specialty drinks were a preview of the tasty dinner that awaited us in the adjacent dining room.
Le Grand, the fine dining restaurant at the Raffles Hotel in Siem Reap, Cambodia, offered a selection of a la carte dishes based on ancestral Cambodian recipes from the Royal family as well as classical French selections.