This is without doubt the most romantic place to stay in Siem Reap – French colonial style, with hints of 1920's art deco, suffused with Khmer charm but with all the frills of modernity.
The rooms of course are superb, full of home comforts but with extra treats like a bowl of exotic fruits I'd never seen before (dragon fruit!), elephant chocolates & toiletries from the hotels Amtita spa range. The breakfast buffet has a lazy colonial feel with table service of fresh squeezed juices, cappucchino coffee, eggs cooked to order & a daily newspaper.
I loved the ancient 1930's cage lift, apparently the first in the town, & the uniformed lift operator seemed to get as much fun from operating the lift as I once did driving a vintage sports car.
There's fine dining or informal dining but the thrice weekly evening BBQ on the Apsara terrace, under the stars or sheltered from the warm tropical rain, is hard to beat. Its a travesty to call it a BBQ when there are nine separate buffet options – straight-up BBQ, Tandoori, Noodle bar, Stirfry, Amok, a Khmer kitchen, a Salad bar, Deserts & an exotic Flambe station. But the highlight of this gourmet BBQ is a spectacular performance by a young Khmer classical dance troop – stunning costumes, beautiful dances & the genuine pride in their culture added a real sense of authenticity.
The grounds spread over 15 acres & there's an exceptionally large pool surrounded by flowering Frangipani trees with coconut palms waving majestically behind them. There are lotus pools, towering betelnut & sugar palms, ginger, orchids & lillies, after which I gave up trying to count the exotics in this manicured slice of tropical jungle.
Lion fountains tinkle in the background to the accommpaniment of bird song & for those that still need help unwinding there's the Amrita Spa for a Khmer style massage & an array of natural treatments But if you have already unwound the poolside bar has an extensive selection of cocktails, champagne & the great local beer.
After dinner the resident pianist entertains in the conservatory bar or wafts guests to bed if they're planning an early start to the magnificnt Angkor Wat.
The Siem Reap Raffles manages to be both a nostalgic reminder of bygone charms & service standards as well as providing the best of what any modern 5 star hotel should.