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Special feature: Hôtel de la Paix, Siem Reap, Cambodia

The most popular tourist destination in Cambodia is the vast complex of temples at Angkor Wat. This is really a fascinating place to visit, but surprisingly it’s not on the usual lists of Wonders of the World. It should be! It is, however, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Angkor Wat near Siem Reap in Cambodia In my opinion the best way to see Angkor Wat is to hire a remorque-moto (more commonly referred to these days as a tuk-tuk), a passenger carriage towed by a scooter and ideal for jumping in and out of to take photos. Just in case any of you have been on a different planet for the last decade, perhaps it’s also worth mentioning that this is the location of the film Tomb Raider starring Angelina Jolie in various tight outfits. Angkor Wat is right on the doorstep of Siem Reap, Cambodia’s second city, so if you want to visit the temples, most likely that’s where you’ll stay. There are plenty of options for travellers with limited budgets and a few rather more upmarket places for luxury travellers. The Hôtel de la Paix is one of the top hotels in Siem Reap and is an excellent place to stay for several reasons. As well as being the perfect base to visit the ancient temples, the Hôtel de la Paix is also very conveniently situated for the city’s other attractions. It’s literally across the road from the Central Market, and within walking distance of the Old Market and Pub Street. As you’d expect, Pub Street is where you’ll find the nightlife with its numerous bars and restaurants. The Hôtel de la Paix has 107 rooms and suites. We stayed in a duplex spa suite, which is top of the range and very spacious – 108 square metres to be precise. Downstairs you’ll find the beautifully furnished sleeping and living area as well as a WC and shower cubicle. Upstairs, via a spiral staircase, consists of two spa beds indoors and a large rooftop terrace with a table and chairs and an oversized bath. Privacy is ensured by the high walls surrounding it so you don’t need to worry about anyone looking on if you do decide to have a bath outside. The rooftop terrace is also a good place to go and have a puff if you are a smoker. Plus there is free WiFi throughout so you can use your computer up there too. The Deluxe Spa Suite at the Hotel de la Paix in Siem Reap The hotel also has a specially adapted suite for disabled travellers, which is particularly suitable for wheelchair users. Both the WC and shower have easy access and grab bars, and the spacious living area has plenty of room for manoeuvre. The hotel has a number of dining options: Meric (contemporary Khmer cuisine); Café de la Paix; and the Arts Lounge. They also own the AHA restaurant near Pub Street. We were invited to try the degustation Khmer dinner at Meric. This was right up my street! I love trying new things and a seven course tasting menu certainly appealed. The first course was described on the menu as “deep fried baby corn with natang sauce”, which didn’t sound too exciting, but when it came our eyes opened wide with surprise and delight. It was actually a tempura dish and included tempura of frangipani flowers! Frangipani? I didn’t know you could eat them. They taste as good as they smell, and we certainly suffered no ill effects. The rest of the dinner was also a thrilling experience of trying new things. I would definitely recommend you try this tasting dinner if you’re visiting Siem Reap. Fried frangipani flowers with natang sauce and seaweed salad with prawn The Arts Lounge doubles as the hotel’s reception lobby. But it’s a lobby with a difference! Apart from the comfortable seating where you can relax with a welcoming iced tea and a refreshing cool towel while the check-in formalities are completed, it’s also an art gallery where all sorts of exhibitions are staged. The art extends throughout the hotel – much of the artwork that adorns the corridors and lobbies is for sale. The Arts Lounge at the Hôtel de la Paix in Siem Reap Other facilities at the hotel include their award winning Spa Indochine, which offers a variety of relaxing treatments such as massages, scrubs and facials. And then there’s the outdoor swimming pool on the first floor where you can swim among flowerbeds, then relax in one of the chillout alcoves along the wall. The outdoor swimming pool at the Hotel de la Paix in Siem Reap The Hôtel de la Paix also caters for events from small gatherings to large corporate happenings, and whether for business or celebration they have the venue for you. Apsara dancers from the Sangkheum Centre for Children As well as being a top class luxury hotel, the Hôtel de la Paix has a philosophy of giving back to the local community. They are very active in working closely with community projects. These, of course, are not tourist attractions. However, we were very privileged to be invited to visit two of them. The first was a sewing centre where disadvantaged women are trained in sewing skills, learning English, and given basic training in setting up and running a small business. On completion of the ten-month course, the women are given a start-up package including a sewing machine and some materials so they can return to their villages and set up their own business. I was very impressed by what I saw at the sewing centre and urge you to help with this project. There are various options to donate including purchasing a sewing machine ($85) or buying a push bike ($45) as the women need such transport to travel between the centre and the house they share. A smiling student behind a sewing machine We were also taken to visit the Sangkheum Centre for Children. The word “sangkheum” means “hope”, and these children who otherwise might not have any prospects in life are well cared for and given education and training. Again, donations are very welcome. You could sponsor a child for a whole year ($480) or even just donate toys, clothes or toiletries. Happy children at the Sangkheum Centre for Children near Siem Reap You can find out more about the Hôtel de la Paix’s involvement in community projects on their website. If you are interested in donating or becoming involved with any of these projects, visits can be arranged by appointment. Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in Asia, but responsible tourism is very helpful for the people. There’s also lots to do and see in the vibrant little city of Siem Reap. And with these amazing temples only about twenty minutes away by tuk-tuk, it’s so easy to get around. I suggest you put Siem Reap on your travel wish list if it isn’t already on there. If you would like a special feature on A Luxury Travel Blog, please contact us.

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  1. We recently stayed here for 3 nights and it was wonderful! (That’s our room, pictured above). Love the art deco entrance and the hip vibe.

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