INTRODUCTION TO AMANSARA
King Sihanouk’s former guesthouse sets the scene for Aman‘s Cambodian outpost. The property, oozing 60s minimalist chic, is a peaceful retreat from the searing Siem Reap sun. Amansara, set at the outskirts of the Angkor complex, offers just the right mix of cultural excursions and relaxing down time.
Amansara is not a destination hotel – it is not a place you come to, sit, relax and never leave. In Siem Reap, you must explore. But that is precisely why you stay at Amansara – because here you do not have to worry and just let Aman guide you to a most memorable stay, in the only way they know how: the Aman way.
Date of stay: March 2017
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PHOTOS AND VIDEOS by CHINMOYLAD
WHAT I LOVED
- Arrival and transport. Following a VIP fast-track immigration and customs clearance, you’re greeted by the resort’s beautifully restored vintage 1965 Mercedes-Benz limousine, replete with a fresh cold towels and water, that takes you the 20-minute drive from the airport to the hotel. Also check out the hotel’s remorks, a Cambodian version of a tuk-tuk, which you can request any time to traverse within Siem Reap town.
- Location. Set only a short remork drive from the heart of Siem Reap town and lively pub street, but an equally short distance from the temples of Angkor, Amansara is ideally situated as a retreat without forgetting its main purpose – a base from which to the explore the depths of the ancient Angkor complex.
- Rooms. Spacious suites with ample living space and shaded, cool areas provide a respite from the Cambodian heat. The 12 contemporary and courtyard suites were part of the original complex, while the 12 pool suites were recently added to and provide a larger outdoor courtyard and a private plunge pool.
- Excursions and experiences. Amansara, and Aman, shines at providing unique cultural experiences. Upon arrival, a suggested itinerary to make the most of (lack of) crowds was provided to us, and the guides worked with us in altering this to ensure we never went anywhere where we felt overwhelmed with the crowds (as can happen while touring the city of Angkor). The hidden and off-the-beaten-track hikes and temple excursions are aplenty, topped off only by the soothing cold coconut water drink that your driver has beautifully anticipated you wish to have when you arrive back at your remork/car.
- Don’t miss out on breakfast at the Village House, a traditional Cambodian house on stilts that provides an interesting look at traditional Cambodian life (and a sumptuous yet light breakfast) following your trek to Angkor Wat.
- Be sure to watch one of the live dance performances at Amansara, performed by a renowned local dance troupe, as well as to get Aman to arrange a trip to Phare Circus, a performance by local Cambodian youths that features dance, theatre, live music and breathtaking acrobatics.
- Eat at Khmer Kitchen, serving local Cambodian street fare at extremely reasonable prices and generous portions and Khmer Touch, led by former Amansara chef Samantha Oeng, which offers refined but unpretentious Cambodian cuisine, and a highlight of our trip. Both can be found at buzzing junctions in Pub Street – ask Aman to help with bookings so you can get the best seat in the house.
- The team. General Manager Astrid Killian and her staff are always at hand to ensure your stay is going according to your wishes, while making very thoughtful suggestions on spots to hit around town. The team is also always ready to welcome you back from long excursions, with a fresh cold towel and drink at hand, of course.
- Inclusions. Although Amansara is priced well above other hotels and resorts in the city, your stay offers plenty of inclusions accounted for, including arrival and departure transfers to and from Siem Reap airport, transportation within Siem Reap town, daily excursions with an English speaking guide and driver to the Angkor temples, daily breakfast and choice of lunch and dinner (half-board), non-alcoholic beverages, WiFi, laundry (excluding dry cleaning) and more.
POINTS TO NOTE
- Half-board? While many of the inclusions at Amansara are well thought out, there remains a question mark over how necessary a surcharge for half-board is in 2017 and beyond in a locale thriving with plenty of food options – from an existing local food culture to a thriving and burgeoning upscale dining scene.
- Tipping. While tipping at the Amans is not expected or common, at Siem Reap, as the guides are not Aman staff, it is suggested to tip them appropriately.
- Food. Apart from a couple of outstanding dishes (the spring rolls in particular), the food at Amansara was regrettably not up to our expectations for an Aman. In particular, breakfast was disappointing.
HOTEL FACT SHEET
- LOCATION: Siem Reap, Cambodia
- OPENED: 2002
- HOTEL ROOMS: 24
- RESIDENCE VILLAS: N/A
- RATES FROM: USD 1090/night++
Rates are only an approximation and subject to change and availability