A new hotel seems to open every day in Siem Reap, one of Asia's tourist boom towns, thriving thanks to the nearby remains of the extraordinary temple of Angkor Wat.
A new hotel seems to open every day in Siem Reap, one of Asia's tourist boom towns, thriving thanks to the nearby remains of the extraordinary temple of Angkor Wat. You'd be forgiven, though, on arrival at the Angkor Village Resort, for thinking that Monet's garden had been transported from Giverny to Indochina. There are two ponds covered in water lilies, crossed by wooden walkways, and fan palms, shrubs and trees at every turn. Fittingly, the designer and owner is a French architect. A wonderful wooden affair, the Angkor Village comprises several traditional Khmer bungalows built around a tropical garden, with colonial verandas, creating a restful atmosphere. There is a swimming-pool, for refreshment in the midday heat between visits to the nearby temples of Angkor.
The staff are young Cambodians fluent in English and French, who giggle at every opportunity and cannot do too much for you. The handicrafts shop is better than the average hotel effort, and the restaurant serves both traditional French and Cambodian cuisine, along with top-notch wines, at fair prices.
The lobby bar, beautifully lit up at night, is a pleasant place to knock back a bottle of Angkor beer to the backdrop of cicadas and fireflies, and read the coffee-table books on Angkor provided. Nearby is the excellent Apsara theatre, where dancers and musicians perform traditional plays depicting scenes from everyday life.
Angkor Village Resort, Wat Bo Road, Siem Reap (00 855 63 963 561; www.angkorvillage.com). The Angkor Village is in the south-east of town and five minutes' walk across the Siem Reap river from the town's hub, which comprises Psar Chas (the old market) banks, post office and some popular restaurants. The entrance to the temples of Angkor is 10 minutes' drive away.
Time from international airport: Siem Reap airport is three miles west of town. The resort can organises mini-van for $5 (£3) return per person. A taxi to the airport will cost $5-$8 (£3-£5). A taxi for the day to take you around the temples costs $20 (£12).
Angkor Village has 14 standard and 32 deluxe rooms, which all have fans and air-con, as well as French windows that open on to verandas or offer leafy views. Rooms are decorated with local crafts, and the beds are comfortable.
Freebies: none, apart from a welcome stock of mineral water.
Keeping in touch: rooms have international direct-dialling, but calling abroad is expensive. Internet costs $5 an hour. No TV.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Standard doubles from $72 (£42), to $121 (£71) for deluxe. Breakfast $7 (£4).
I'm not paying that: try Mom's Guesthouse on Wat Bo Street (00 855 63 964037; www.sampantour.com/moms.html), across from the Royal residence. Singles from £2.80.