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Cambodia: The Hottest Destination in Luxury Travel

by Holly Newing

Whilst there have been a handful of high-end hotels in Cambodia since tourism started trickling in over the past two decades, there are some new kids on the block that are due to open in the following months, and are set to make Cambodia the hottest destination in luxury travel for 2019. Here are some of my favourite luxury hotels in Cambodia for your Indochina holiday…

The view from the The Rosewood hotel in Phnom Penh with hazy sky in the background

The views from the Sky Bar at the Rosewood cannot be beaten

Let’s start with Phnom Penh; the once sleepy capital is fast becoming a bustling and thriving hub within Southeast Asia. One of the new developments on everyone’s radar is the swanky new, 25-storey hotel: The Rosewood. Not least because of the impressive views that hit you as you step out of the elevator into the lobby, but everything about this hotel is of the highest quality.

Spacious rooms with a view mean you’ll have an excellent night’s sleep away from the chaos of the city below. Yet it’s the dining options (three restaurants that are impossible to choose from, including a Japanese-inspired sushi and ramen bar) and its incredible Sky Bar (a platform perched on the edge of the sloping skyscraper – the tallest building in the country) that are most impressive.

the reception area of Raffles Le Royal in Phnom Penh

Raffles Le Royal, Phnom Penh

However, if you prefer something a little more understated, then opt for Raffles le Royal. A brand that is synonymous with excellence, the building was once the official French government building, so has a beautiful colonial design, set with elegant black and white checked tiles throughout its corridors. The Elephant Bar is a particularly cosy way to spend an evening, often with a pianist gently playing in the background. Enjoy a traditional (or Asian-inspired) high tea, or sample what is being offered on the cooking demonstration table that day (an oyster bar, perhaps?)

Day beds looking over the ocean from Song Saa private island resort

For a true ‘castaway’ experience, nothing beats Song Saa

If you’re planning on spending some time relaxing on the coast, then this is where the options start to get very exciting. Since 2011, Song Saa Private Island has been the only truly luxury option for anyone wanting something that extra bit special. With impeccable service and a ‘castaway’ vibe, there is nowhere that says ‘chill time’ like here.

However, that’s all about to change as a handful of brand new properties open over the coming months. Perhaps the most similar concept to the existing option will be Six Senses on Koh Krabey island; a hotel brand that really sets the standard when it comes to ‘barefoot luxury’. This new resort is intimate and peaceful, and blends fantastically well into the surrounding environment. Or if you prefer somewhere that is a little more traditional in its approach, then you might want to consider the neighbouring island Koh Russey, where the more contemporary Alila Villas has just opened its doors.

a tropical island opposite koh krabey covered in forest with a small white sand beach

Six Senses Koh Krabey island

But what is set to attract the most attention to Cambodia and really flagship the country as the hottest destination in luxury travel, is a very exciting and different concept indeed. Luxury adventure ‘camp’ Shinta Mani Wild was designed by architect Bill Bensley and consists of 15 luxury ‘tents’, perched amongst the trees on the edge of the river, in the heart of the Cambodian jungle. The main inspiration is from Jackie Kennedy’s travels with King Norodom Sihanouk from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville, which is a subtle theme guests will notice during their stay: from furnishings in the rooms to the dishes on the menu on select evenings. The tents themselves each have a unique design (all with a signature bathtub perched on the decking overlooking the jungle) and are furnished with antiques from all over the world, which Bensley himself has been sourcing and shipping in.

It’s the sheer amount to do here that makes it extra special. The arrival process alone involves ziplining across the river and over a waterfall, landing at the bar where you’ll have a G&T waiting for you. And that’s all before you’ve even checked-in! How you spend the next few days is up to you; from hiking in the mountains, exploring on expedition boats, kayaking, joining the ranger station on patrol, swimming in waterfalls, indulging in the spa, mountain biking, or foraging with the chef, it’s no wonder that they insist on a 3-night minimum stay.

An outdoor bath at Shinta Mani Wild, surrounded by rainforest

Shinta Mani Wild’s signature outdoor bathtubs

If it’s excellent service that is most important to you, then Aman pulls out all of the stops with their elegant property Amansara. Once the Prince’s residence, it now serves as an idyllic oasis to return to after a morning or afternoon exploring the nearby temples. An extra special touch is the property’s very own Khmer House, located by the King’s pool. Here you can enjoy a serene private breakfast, dinner under the stars, or perhaps a private cooking demonstration with the chef.

The grass courtyard of Amansara in Siem Reap with trees creating shade

Amansara, Siem Reap

However, for a unique stay like no other, then Phum Baitang is a wonderful concept. Designed to look like a typical Kmher village, with stilted houses, surrounded by paddy fields and lush greenery. Help with harvesting rice in the paddies, or simply sit back with a cocktail by the pool, and enjoy the beautiful surrounding countryside. Wherever you choose to focus your time whilst in Cambodia, it’s exciting to say that there is now an option almost everywhere for you to do so in style.

Thatched, raised cottages of Phum Baitang with shrubbery and grass in surrounding them

The rooms at Phum Baitang are designed to look like traditional Khmer houses

Curious to know more? Do get in touch with a luxury Cambodia specialist today on 020 3468 3029 to discuss the hottest destination in luxury travel. If contacting us via email is easier for you, you can do it here.  Alternatively, take a look at our suggested Cambodia holidays or suggested Cambodia family holidays.

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