Perhaps the “Grand Dame” of old-world luxury accommodation in Siem Reap, the Raffles Grand Hotel D’Angkor epitomizes the quality of travellers in the early days of the 20th century. Built only a few years after Raffles Hotel Le Royal in Phnom Penh, it has afforded guests comfort and ease that was thought of as implausible at that time.
Being part of the Town Planning Service of French Indochina office’s grand plan to build luxury hotels throughout its cities, the place catered to the first wave of travellers from Europe and the America who came to marvel at the magnificent beauty of the Angkor Wat. Distinctly modern compared to its Phnom Penh hotel, it features an art deco design covering a 15-acre land with a beautifully-landscaped French garden separating it from the royal residence.
To date, it is the only hotel property allowed to have a stake so near the King’s abode. The origin of the series of resort hotels throughout French Indochina may have come from the tradition of the ‘grand’ or ‘palace’ hotels of Europe. The colossal yet symmetrical wings, elevated portico, shutters and individual room balconies that intersperse the façade are all hallmark architectural designs employed in resort hotels in those days.
Wars and internal conflicts have temporarily shattered the tourism promises of Siem Reap and while it struggled to solve and contain its challenges, visitors and adventurers to the temples and jungles have also abated. After the regime of Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge was ousted in 1979, the recovery process began and took a little over a decade. In 1997, after a massive reconstruction and restoration, the hotel rose once again to take its place in the grand scheme of things in Siem Reap’s luxury hotels.
From only 60 rooms in 1930s, the hotel now has a total of 131 rooms. Dining at the Raffles hotel is a destination unto itself with both Western and Khmer dishes on showcase for the guests to enjoy. Another highlight is the Afternoon Tea served at the hotel’s Conservatory bar and allows the guests to enjoy a variety of cakes, breads, scones and fruits with either tea or coffee.