While the Orient Express may have some rather famous luxury train journeys their entire portfolio includes some of the most luxurious hotels in the world. While tourism ever grows in Cambodia, especially near the famous Angkor Wat temples, Orient Express are right there in the centre of Siem Reap with their hotel, La Residence D’Angkor.
Our recent visit to Cambodia gave us a chance to sample this luxurious hotel for 2 nights and find out if the quality and service they’re known so well for on their trains, translates to their hotels too.
We arrived early evening after sunset and were greeted at the entrance by a helpful porter, unlike entrances to other luxury hotels where first impressions count, the entrance here is understated and subtle. A short walkway leads past ponds and trees to the main lobby area with high open ceiling. Quiet and comfortable surroundings where your arrival leads to instant pampering with drinks and very welcome cold wet towels.
We were given a quick tour of the hotel and it’s spa, there’s only 62 rooms here so the hotel feels quiet and peaceful throughout the day and night. The spa has some impressive rooms including the pool / meditation room where a local monk helps with meditation every Wednesday, something I was disappointed to miss as we arrived on Wednesday evening.
We were shown to our room and given our room key, an actual key on a large wooden keyring, which was a nice change from the flimsy swipe cards you often get in hotels these days. I much prefer a real key to help you feel you’re home and welcome, rather than just a tourist.
The great thing about a high quality hotel with only 62 rooms is that each room offers a little more than just a place to sleep. Our room had a grand bed with impressive wooden mosquito net hanging about it, more for ornamental purposes than practical use. An ornate bureau and chair opposite house the minibar, cute little desk with all the stationary you need, TV and kettle. The bathroom occupied almost half of the living space with 2 sets of sliding doors ample room by the sink to prepare for an evening out and the best feature for me, a bath I can actually lay down in! When you’re as tall as me (6’4″) that really is quite a treat.
When you’re in a hot country a pool is essential and most luxury pools are often oddly shaped and curved around walls and gardens. Not so at La Residence D’Angkor where the pool is rectangular and fairly long. With a fountain at one end leading a small stream to the deep end, it leads to the other end of the hotel where a statue akin to those found at the Angkor Wat temples sits proud, guarding the pool and it’s inhabitants. Surrounded by trees and balconies, this pool is one of the most palatial and luxurious I’ve seen. We had the pleasure of swimming in the pool during a rain storm too. The best place to be when the heavy rain starts to fall and quite a unique experience as wet season in Cambodia can drop an impressive amount of water in a short space of time.
Dinner and Dancing
We were lucky enough to be staying at La Residence D’Angor when the evening’s entertainment includes a traditional Khmer dance show during dinner. Having discovered Fish Amok on our guided tour of the Angkor Temples the day before, I couldn’t wait to try it again and the chef’s special soft shell crab sounded too tasty to ignore. The show started during the end of our dinner giving us a chance to relax and watch without interruption. The show proved popular with the hotel guests and although it was sometimes difficult to understand what the descriptions of the dance were all about, thankfully we had them printed out in a leaflet on our table too.
The greatest draw of any Orient Express experience is the service. Their friendly and attentive nature meant I rarely opened a door for myself during our entire stay. They helped us arrange transport to Bangkok and were always close by when we needed a bite to eat or a drink to quench our thirst. Every time we picked up the phone, walked through the lobby or ordered a drink we were greeted by name. While it’s true that you should expect great service when you’re staying at a luxury hotel, it’s always nice to feel there’s a personal element to the whole experience.
Our stay at La Residence D’Angkor was a very enjoyable one and I’m glad to report that “Orient Express feeling” is apparent in pretty much every aspect of this hotel. As with the Hotel Cipriani in Venice that we reviewed recently, you just get a little something extra from an Orient Express experience. Their trademark quality of service and style makes their products unique and something you’ll want to sample again.
With thanks to Orient Express for their hospitality at La Residence D’Angkor. For more information visit www.residencedangkor.com or call (+855-63) 963 390. You can also see more of the Orient Express hotels and tours at orient-express.com.