The first thing you’ll notice on arriving at Amansara is the striking Mod design – something that will make you feel like extra in a James Bond film (from the Sean Connery days).
Originally built in 1962 as the guest residence of King Sihanouk, by French architect Laurent Mondet, the property once accommodated visitors unable to stay at the royal residence nearby. Dignitaries such as former French President Charles de Gaulle, Jacqueline Kennedy and actor Peter O’Toole have all stayed here during its heyday, meaning it has real star appeal.
Re-imagined as a resort by the Aman Group in 2002, the property celebrates sixties design through low-slung chalets; extra guest rooms have since been added, each retaining that retro-chic appeal.
Cleverly-designed exterior walls and well-located guest rooms shield the property from unwanted noise, making it a peaceful oasis despite being in the busy city of Siem Reap.
What’s on offer
Amansara has 24 suites, all similar and open-plan in design, with terrazzo and timber finishes. Colours are muted and earthy with off-white, dark wood and rough-cut stone throughout.
Comfy king size beds and large writing desks give way to spacious bathrooms with walk-in showers, while pool villas feature private terraces with day beds and private plunge pools. Help yourself to the mini-bar (included in your stay) or use the iPad provided to play music or learn more about the property and the area. The absence of a television was very welcome.
The Instagram-worthy curved slate pool, with its shady pergola and loungers, is a great spot for a quick dip and an afternoon snooze, or head to the newer 25-metre lap pool and do some serious lengths before lunch.
Doused in dark wood, and with an impressive concrete reception desk, the hotel’s spa is a must-visit. Take tea on a comfy sofa in the reception area and gaze out at the immaculate spa garden before following your charming therapist down the emerald-tiled corridor to one of four treatment rooms.
Daily excursions to the temples of Angkor Wat, complete with driver and English-speaking guides, are also included in the room rate.
Tell us about your treatment(s)
We tried Temple Walk (60 minutes, £92), a foot and leg treatment especially designed to soothe tired, aching legs after a day exploring Angkor Wat, followed by Teap Bourn (60 minutes, £92), a massage with a blind therapist.
My first treatment began with a foot and leg scrub using crushed Himalayan salt and jasmine. My therapist then massaged reflexology points on the soles of my feet before moving up to perform a soothing leg massage using Aman’s own Cooling Foot and Leg Lotion. This felt slightly tingly and smelt of fresh mint.
The Teap Bourn massage was a true highlight of my stay. Asked to slip into Asian pyjamas, my therapist relied purely on the sense of touch to perform one of the most intuitive massages I have ever encountered. There are four blind therapists employed at The Aman Spa, each expertly trained by the Spa Director. This treatment is an absolute must for fans of unique massages.
End your treatment with a small flapjack in the spa garden.
A former cinema in the King’s residence, the dining area is housed in a circular building overlooking the pool.
A daily changing menu of local dishes features organic produce bought directly from the nearby market; emphasis is on simple flavours – and the food is exceptional. There’s a well-stocked walk-in cellar, too. Don’t leave without sampling the afternoon tea either, which is as pretty as it is tasty.
Each dining experience is complemented by live, traditional Khmer music with the occasional solo singer creating a haunting melody.
Who do you think would like it?
Wellness junkies: Aman really knows how to do deliver the perfect spa experience and is taking wellness to a new level.
History buffs: The all-inclusive packages make it easy to explore the ancient temples of Angkor Wat.
Sunset cocktails on the roof terrace: Relax on a day bed while a mixologist conjures up something tasty from a tuk-tuk converted into a bar.
The Cambodian noodle breakfast at Amansara’s traditional wooden Khmer Village House overlooking the ancient royal bathing pool of Srah Srang.