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Hotel review: Templation is Siem Reap’s oasis on the doorstep of Angkor Wat

These luxury digs are the closest you can get to the famous temples

Hazel Sheffield
Saturday 29 June 2019 19:22 BST
A one bedroom pool villa at the Templation hotel
A one bedroom pool villa at the Templation hotel (Templation)

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


In a nutshell: The closest hotel to Angkor Wat is a modernist retreat perfect for cooling off after a hot and dusty morning at the temples.

The neighbourhood

Templation’s location is perhaps its biggest selling point. While other luxury hotels are clustered downtown in Siem Reap, Templation has the advantage of being north of the city, off the main road to Angkor Wat, the spectacular ancient temple complex that is the majority of people’s main reason for visiting the city.

That means you’re only 20 minutes by tuk-tuk from those magnificent 6am sunrises over the main temple – and only 20 minutes away from Templation’s seductive, turquoise pool when the dust and sweat of the tourist trail becomes too much.

The look

The hotel was designed by French architects and Cambodian residents Lisa Ros and Ivan Tizianel to incorporate the natural beauty of the land, with not a hint of glaring chrome or glass in sight.

It takes a moment for the eyes to adjust to the cool, dark interior of the lobby. The reception desk is set deep into the entrance, behind a walkway decorated with floating flowers.

One of the pool suites
One of the pool suites (Templation)

Behind the reception, rainwater cascades from the roof into a green courtyard. Step further inside the resort and you’re in the restaurant and bar, an open plan, rectangular shaped hall, with one side left open from floor to ceiling to allow guests to walk straight through into the green of the inner gardens. The building has been designed around the existing vegetation. Two trees break through the functional concrete ceiling, creating natural screens in the space.

Decor is distinctly modernist. The villas and suites are also designed around rectangular spaces with softened edges. Natural materials, from slate to pale wood and marble, are left undisguised. Together it gives the impression of a collection of low-rise buildings nestled into the natural environment.

Bed and bath

Even the junior suites at Templation open directly onto the gardens, so you can step from the bedrooms into the warm air. Pool suites and pool villas both have private 4x7m pools cut into the stone and surrounded by jungle vegetation. There is nothing more luxurious than stepping out of your own private villa and slipping beneath the water of your own private pool, designed with water jets and lights inset into the rock. Beds can be curtained off from the rest of the room with a circular mosquito net and the air conditioning is impeccably chilly – not something that can be said for all of Siem Reap’s hotels. Complimentary robes and slippers can be found in the wardrobe and sodas in the fridge.

The hotel is near Angkor Wat, which is best seen at sunrise
The hotel is near Angkor Wat, which is best seen at sunrise (Getty)

Templation’s bathrooms are particularly special. In a pool suite, both the bedroom and the lounge room are attached to a bathroom that is half open to the elements, so you can bathe in a gigantic marble tub to the sounds of crickets or shower beside waving palm fronds. Just remember to close the door to the adjoining rooms when you’re done, or the mosquitos will accompany you inside.

Food and drink

If you have a pool room, request a floating breakfast: room service that arrives across the water on a floating tray. It’s reason enough to forget everything you ever learned about swimming on a full stomach. Breakfast options include European, with eggs and pastries, American, with pancakes and muffins, Asian, with miso soup and noodles, or local, with spring rolls and fried rice. Or go a la carte and get a mixture of everything.

Throughout the day, guests can order from the pool menu, which offers wraps, pizza and burgers. In the evenings the restaurant serves a simple menu of western and local choices, with starters around £5 and mains around £11. The starter of smoked salmon banana flowers with cucumber salad is a delicious contrast of hot chilli and chilled cucumber.

Pools, spas and public areas

The swimming pool at Templation
The swimming pool at Templation (Templation)

This haven couldn’t be more different to classic hotels, set over hundreds of floors with low-ceilinged public areas. The complex feels like a small community, with villas spread out beyond lawns, accessible along lit pathways.

The pool, one of the largest in Siem Reap, is irregularly shaped, with trees shading secret corners, offering maximum privacy to guests. A small gym overlooks the gardens, while the hotel shop sells locally made handicrafts, from leather goods to prints.

A visit to Templation wouldn’t be complete without a treatment at the spa. A 60-minute four hands massage is a little over £40, with the option to select your essential oil (choices include tangerine and ginger). This is a world away from the £4 street massages available downtown, with floating flowers, gentle music and highly trained professionals.

Nuts and bolts

Room count: 41

Freebies: A cool glass of juice on arrival and a frozen hand towel to mop your brow.

In the bathroom: Essential oils toiletries are provided by Bodia, a Cambodian apothecary.

Wifi: Free throughout.

Extra charges: None.

Minibar prices: Soda and water in the minibar is free. A full range of drinks can be ordered to the room from the bar.

Disability access: Good – there are almost no stairs throughout the complex.

Pet policy: Not allowed.

Bottom line

Best thing: The service, which is excellent even by Cambodian standards, and the pools.

Worst thing: It’s a 10-minute tuk-tuk to downtown Siem Reap (but closer to the temples).

Perfect for: Couples and families, because of the privacy of the pool villas.

Not right for: Budget travellers – unless this is your one splurge.

Instagram from: The lagoon like swimming pool with the hotel’s stunning architecture in the background.

Room rate: Junior suites from £135 in low season.

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