Written By: Colin Hinshelwood/ CPA Media
Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor, one of the most iconic heritage properties in Southeast Asia, reopened its doors to guests on 1st June 2022 for the first time in almost three years.
First opened in 1932 and widely celebrated as La Grande Dame de Angkor, the hotel has been welcoming discerning travellers and famous faces – from Charlie Chaplin to Jackie Kennedy and Michelle Obama – to the historic heart of Cambodia for almost ninety years.
The hotel underwent a delicate transformation in 2019 with rooms and suites receiving a meticulous facelift before the global pause in travel. The guestrooms feature lighter and brighter interiors as well as the addition of Segafredo coffee machines, USB charging stations and Simmons pillow-top mattresses. The French windows, which swing open to views of street scenes or the plantation-style grounds of the hotel, have been upgraded, and each room now has a writing desk and vintage rotary telephone, thanks in part to the added floor space created by removing cabinets and replacing them with built-in wardrobes. All bathrooms have also been upgraded with new Italian tiling and rain showers. The traditional ceiling fans remain, as well as the beautiful views of the Royal Gardens or the resort’s iconic swimming pool.
It is a magnificent feeling to bring this enchanting hotel back to life,” said General Manager Dennis de Groot. “The Grand Hotel is a national treasure, and its storied history is testament to Cambodia’s colourful past. It was originally built as a rest stop for archaeologists and adventurers seeking to explore the ancient kingdom of Angkor Wat. As we prepare to celebrate the hotel’s 90th anniversary this year, we are delighted that this hotel can continue to set the standard for luxury hospitality, where travellers arrive as guests, leave as friends and return as family”.
Returning guests will notice that the famous façade and entire exterior of the hotel now shines white, rather than its former cream-beige hue which was the colour of French colonial architecture across Indochina.
Named after the year that Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor first opened, 1932 is the hotel’s latest signature restaurant, proudly inheriting the honour to serve traditional Royal Khmer cuisine for a unique dining experience.
Another fresh addition to the hotel is the Raffles Marquee, an elegant events centre situated within 15-acres of lush French gardens that plays host to everything from Khmer performances and fashion shows to wedding receptions and business conferences. This fully air-conditioned marquee offers a truly unique setting for sophisticated events in the enchanting town of Siem Reap.
Traditionalists can rest assured that the hotel’s original teak and wrought iron cage elevator remains, as does the vintage ambience of the Elephant Bar and the checker-tiled lobby, which over the decades has witnessed a guest list of royalty, film stars, writers and artists.
Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor is situated a mere 20-minute drive to the doorway of the UNESCO Heritage temples of Angkor.Tweet
To allow guests to explore more of the fascinating destination, the Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor offers an enticing series of Raffles Curated Journeys and Resort Programs designed to infuse local experiences with worldly elegance. Guests can explore the ancient Angkor Archaeological Park on an iconic Vespa, before being one of the first travellers of the day to enter the temple. Embark on a local tuk-tuk tour for a journey through the Silk Road of Angkor, visiting the beautiful Banteay Srei Temple and Golden Silk Farm. Food aficionados can taste Siem Reap on an exclusive Culinary Hidden Gems, while shopaholics saunter Siem Reap’s Kandal Village neighbourhood with the assistance of a Raffles Butler, and culture lovers can enjoy a majestic performance of Cambodian dances in the Apsara Terrace.
Within the resort grounds, guests can take part in on-site activities including monk blessings, Angkor Sling masterclasses, botanical and culinary garden tours, and a tour with the hotel’s resident historian.
Designed by French architect Ernest Hébrard in a style that combines Khmer art and furnishings with Art Deco influences, the Grand Hotel first opened in 1932 with just 63 rooms, all with private bathrooms – a revelation in its day. The property, along with its sister heritage hotel, Le Royal, in Phnom Penh, was taken over by Fairmont Raffles Hotels International in 1997 at the invitation of Cambodia’s King Sihanouk.
The move to reopen on 1st June comes at a time when Cambodia has removed all major travel restrictions. The country was widely praised for its handling of the pandemic and its effective vaccine program.
Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor was recognized this year by US magazine Travel + Leisure as among the top 500 hotels in the world.