Whom are you sleeping with?
Would it be glitterati of the days of yore, Jacky Onassis? Or perhaps you prefer to mingle with royalty, a la Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon? What about with one of UK’s most famous writer of the era? No, not JK Rowling; I am talking about Somerset Maugham.
Given that they have all walked towards the light, save for JK Rowling, you would still be able to enjoy the luxurious traditional (read: old) surroundings where they have once slept in at Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor. Like any grand dame, it has gone through several tumultuous moments throughout its history. This hotel was first opened in 1932 with 60 rooms. In 1970, Lon Nol and his military staff occupied it after leading a military coup against Prince Norodom Sihanouk. Five years later, the Pol Pot cadres occupied the hotel during his communist rule. When the Khmer Rouge was defeated in 1979, the Vietnamese forces occupied the hotel. It was only reopened again to the public on December 1991.
Raffles International Limited took on large scale restoration works of the hotel in March 1996. The hotel was then re-opened after a complete renovation on 30 December 1997. The four-story main building was preserved, but was refurbished with taste and imagination. Two low-rise wings in the same colonial style were added to double its room count to 131 keys. Traditional art deco pieces, antique photographs and posters from the 1920s were proudly displayed to convey elegance, glamour and sophistication of the golden days. An Otis cage elevator from 1932 was also preserved too add a touch of history to the place.
Lobby Area – The Otis 1932 elevator (or lift, whatever) is on the right; you’d probably need a license to operate it.
The 35-meter pool was the first pool in Siem Reap when it was added on to the complex. Inspired by the ancient bathing pools of the Khmer kings at the Phimeanakas Temple at Angkor, the pool is still the kingdom’s largest. Legend had it that in this temple, a naga, a dragon serpent-spirit, would take the form of a woman. All Angkor kings must sleep with her every night in the tower before he could join his wives and concubines, lest disaster befall him or the kingdom. How about that for personal sacrifices to fulfil one’s duty to the kingdom? In addition, this pool is rated as one of the world’s most spectacular swimming pools by MSN Travel Canada.
A Gorgeous (with a capital G) pool with traditional Khmer-styled dome at the background; now, just watch out for the mythical serpent in the form of a woman…
Depending on the room that we are getting, we might be facing the pool or the 60 000 sqm Royal Crusade for Independence Gardens. Regardless of view, the rooms would be decorated with hand-carved wooden post and assembled with an eclectic mix of Cambodian and art-deco pieces that reflect the hotel’s inimitable history. For a little bit of pampering, Sarah could be interested in spending the nights at the two bedroom suites of Uma Villa or Kama Villa. I believe it would be available at a modest supplement of at least USD 2400 /night. These villas are equipped with a full pantry facilities and a private wine cellar. But if you are dropping that amount of money, why would you cook yourself? Call your personal 24-hour Butler to arrange everything for you!
“Every morning there’s a halo hangin’ from the corner of my boyfriend’s four-post bed… (Sugar Ray)” – Hand-crafted four-post bed, mind you…
The Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor would certainly not want Jacky Onassis or us to go hungry. It has plenty of options made available for dining: from exotic Royal Khmer cuisine at The Restaurant Le Grand to Noum Pang, a delicatessen serving traditional French pastries and Cambodian delicacies. Enjoy a sumptuous breakfast at Cafe d’Angkor with Asian and continental favourites. Try out the hotel’s signature dish of Khor Bangkong, braised fresh water lobster in ginger and caramel sauce, at the Le Grand. Princess Margaret and Wei would also be delighted to have a traditional afternoon tea at The Conservatory.. Yash and Tan-Chi could go ga-ga over Elephant Bar’s signature cocktail Airavata; a refreshing cocktail named after Indra’s, The King of Gods, multi-headed white elephant. This concoction is made of rum, coconut passion, lime juice, crème de banana and pineapple & coconut juice and a dash of Raffles’ magic.
After all the temple tours and 5AM wake-up call for yoga at Angkor Thom, you could use some pampering. Raffles Amrita Spa would be a perfect place to benefit from a traditional Khmer therapeutic massage, chab ta shai: a vigorous, firm pressure point, rubbing, kneading and rocking massage for effective pain and tension relief. The massage complete with heat herbal pack to enhance healing and soothe aching & painful muscles. A 55 minutes treatment is priced at USD 65 while an extended 80 minutes version is available at USD 80.
So, whom are you sleeping with?