The Cambodian city of Siem Reap is best known for the ancient ruins of Angkor Wat, once only popular amongst intrepid backpackers. Much of the ancient town has only begun to develop after the downfall of Khmer Rouge in the late 90s. Today, Siem Reap is quickly becoming one of the hottest destinations in Asia with its five-star resorts, trendy boutique hotels and upscale spas and other premium services.
But that’s not to say the city has lost its appeal. Much of the place has retained aspects of pre-tourist boom, offering a bygone era charm. Upon arriving at the airport, we were picked up by a local chauffeur in a vintage 1960’s Mercedes, then cruised along the unpaved roads at 50km/h to arrive at the hotel tucked away in a unassuming corner of the city.
Walking into the hotel thru a grand colonial façade; a visit to Heritage Suites Hotel certainly feel like a throwback to the olden days. Check-in was a brisk; a front desk staff walked us into one of the 26 newly refurbished suites set amidst lush tropical greens. Our bungalow suite is a spacious area decorated with a blend of Khmer and Art Deco-inspired aesthetics heavy on the wooden fixtures. There’s even a private steam bath and a small private garden with outdoor shower. But TV is only available upon request. Then again, why’d come to such a place to stay indoors and watch TV?
The hotel offers a full range of tailor-made Angkor temple tours and other outdoor activities and adventures. After a day of exploring the temples, we came back to unwind by the pool. While the pool isn’t big, it does look pretty gorgeous at night when the bon fire is lit up and lights sparkle from dangling trees. On Tuesday night, the hotel also serves a Khmer barbecue fondue dinner with traditional Apsara dancing performance by the poolside.
We also made full use of the Happy Hour, sipping cocktails at the lobby lounge, where most things happened. Sadly, we missed the popular jazz night happens only every Thursday evening. When it comes to food, dining choices are limited to The Heritage Restaurant (again in the lobby), but there are a few restaurants around the corner if you were to venture outside the hotel. Otherwise, tuk tuk drivers are always eager to take you to the other side of town at a reasonable fare. All in all, if you’re looking for a quiet stay in Siem Reap, away from the bumbling tourists (read: Pub Street), Heritage Suites Hotel is definitely a good choice.