Situated in the French quarter of Siem Reap, Raffles Grand Hotel D ‘Angkor surpasses its reputation as the epitome of elegance. Notably one of the grandest hotels in Asia if not the world, writes Harmeet Sehgal
UNESCO Heritage site Angkor Watt is one of the largest religious structures in the world and is home to some of the world’s most important archaeological relics. It was built in the 12th century by King Suryavarman the second during the Khmer era.
Originally built to house the Hindu Gods, it evolved to a reflect Buddhist ideology over time. Hindu artifacts are throughout the temple complex including more than 3000 carved scriptures of Apsaras (heavenly nymphs) on the temple walls.
The distinct colonial hotel of Siem Reap, Raffles Grand Hotel D ’Angkor.
Raffles Grand Hotel D ‘Angkor with its unique period architecture opened its doors in 1932 offering travellers premium luxury and exceptional service. Visitors were charmed by the French Indo chine influences mixed with the comforts of home. Aristocrats, creatives, and intrepid travellers soaked up fine luxury comfortable in their colonial style bungalows, and verandas.
During this time period guests could also catch a glimpse of Angkor Watt in the distance. In 2019, extensive renovations were carried out on the property. With an eye for detail and careful restoration to keep to the colonial style, this matriarch has retained her elegance and nostalgic feel.
One of the timeless pieces restored is the elevator in the lobby constructed from original timber and wrought iron.
Guests can still enjoy a ride in this historic lift that has hosted many important people over the last 90 years of its existence, in style.
The famed Lion fountains of Raffles Grand Hotel
The gold lion fountains that overlook the outdoor pool are very well photographed by guests at the hotel. These Indo chine majestic idols face the impressive pool which is one of the largest pools in Cambodia with cool turquoise waters.
The pool’s design was inspired by the historical Cambodian Royal Baths, another touch of exceptional luxury at Raffles Grand Hotel. Comfortable loungers dot the pool area with the adjoining pool bar concocting tropical cocktails to sip as you laze in out the Cambodian sun.
The pool is part of extensively well-manicured and French inspired grounds. Frangipani grows in abundance beside the pool and the gardens make you feel like you are back in the 1930’s, linking the new and old parts of the hotel.
The Grand Lobby and Conservatory
Doormen await your arrival at the front of Raffles Grand Hotel. Clad in silk pantaloons they reflect the traditions of the Royal Guards of the Khmer period.
First impressions of the lobby are a welcome feat to the senses. The spectacular symmetrical lobby is tastefully furnished with carefully selected pieces of French Art Deco and Indo chine art. Highly polished marble flooring and the dignified ancient columns reflect the elegance and luxury we had set ourselves to be in for the next few days.
The Conservatory, which is just beyond the lobby, encapsulates a bygone era of delicate tea parties and long conversations. This space is also luxury appointed with plush sofas and chic furniture.
Overlooking the pool outside and the landscaped gardens through large windows, the Conservatory is a great spot to experience a refreshing afternoon tea.
Staff traditionally dressed for the occasion offer you an amazing menu with heritage and modern choices. Choose from a lavish choice of world-class teas brewed to perfection or a flute of Champagne. The Conservatory is just as stunning at night for a pre-dinner cocktail or a late-evening nightcap. They have an extensive list of beverages to choose from and a resident pianist to play the grand piano while you enjoy a dram.
Opulent Romantic Suites
Suites at the Raffles Grand Hotel have been designed with refinement that begins from the moment you step in to the 72 square meter Raffles Suite with an old-fashioned lock and key. You are transported to a world of old charm with modern amenities.
Romance is evoked from the four-post bed with crisp cotton sheets made in Cambodia, luxurious furnishing and his and hers bathrooms. There is a free-standing claw bath and a rain shower to utilise as well as Christian Lacriox toiletries.
Double doors open onto a private terrace, a place to enjoy the serenity of the gardens. There is also space to catch up on some work at the stunning workstation in the room.
The suites offer personal butler service, a rare luxury in today’s modern world. The butlers emanate the hotel’s values are professional, discerning, and attentive to guests needs.
Gastronomy fit for a King
Gastronomy is the essence of a good hotel and Raffles Grand Hotel does not disappoint. The Elephant Bar is the perfect spot to enjoy a Negroni or their famous Singapore Sling.
The bar exudes class with its dark wood and Chesterfield sofas. Named after the gentle giants of Cambodia, Elephant Bar signifies the importance of elephants and their story in the region. Originally, elephants were used to transport hotel guests across rough terrain to the hotel.
Head to dinner at the signature Raffles Grand hotel restaurant, 1932. 1932 is a triumph of culinary mastery and history.
The menu options are set in decades and the food produced represents traditional fare of that decade with a modern twist, perfectly blending the traditional and the modern together to ensure the dish remains as authentic as possible to its origins. My picks were the ‘Stek Sach ko Char Kdoa’, rested angus sirloin cooked medium rare with black truffle, hot basil, and Thai pepper, and ‘Chhien Juon Trey ch’pung’, pan seared Seabass with soy pickle and ginger sauce.
Raffles Grand Hotel D’ Angkor is one of the few hotels that offer a luxury stay perfectly harmonic with its identity steeped in history. They offer a unique experience of the luxury of a bygone era with modern needs with service straight from the heart. A stay here will leave you with experiences and stories that connect you to the hotel’s famed legacy as it carries on.