I had only a few days back in Singapore after my Bali trip before heading off on holiday again, this time to meet my parents in Siem Reap, before heading onto Hua Hin and then to Bangkok (although Bangkok is a business trip I will still get some time to relax and explore a bit!) It must seem like all I do at the moment is go on holiday! I decided I would fly into Siem Reap the day before my parents and book a room at Raffles, Le Grand Angkor (which I should point out now in the interest of full disclosure that I booked at a discounted rate due to work connections)
As early as the 1870’s, Angkor Watt had become a tourist attraction and in the 1920’s a plan was put in place to build several grand hotels across French Indo China, starting with Le Royal in Phenom Pehn which was opened in 1929. Whilst official documentation is hard to trace for the opening of Le Grand Angkor, it seems likely that the hotel was opened in around 1932 and by 1936 it is noted that some 3,400 tourists visited the ruins at Angkor Watt, although records do not show how many of those stayed at the Grand Angkor.
Like Cambodia itself, the hotel went through turbulent times during the 1960’s and 1970’s with its only residents being Pol pots cadres and following the defeat of the Khmer Rouge in 1979, the hotel was occupied by the Viet Cong. It was not until the early 1990’s that the Grand Angkor was able to operate as a hotel again and after a complete renovation, reopened under the Raffles branding at the end of 1997. The décor remains true to the original period (the cage style lift or elevator is a wonderful example of this and I took every opportunity to use it in spite of the fact my room was only on the second floor!)
From the moment I was met at the airport and Chauffeur driven ($45) to the hotel to the moment I left, I felt as if I had been transported back in time and received such wonderful service that I didn’t want to leave. I spent my last morning enjoying a leisurely champagne breakfast ($25) before swimming in the glorious pool right up until I had to check out and move onto the Tara Angkor where I was to spend the next 3 nights in Siem Reap. We went back to the Grand Angkor on two of these nights in order to enjoy the lovely cocktails in the elegant Elephant Bar which I really recommend to anyone visiting Siem Reap, the Banana Colada ($8) may be one of Siem Reaps more expensive cocktails (!!!) but the experience itself cannot be bettered.