Reception area at the Shinta Mani Resort
For my money, the swishest place in Siem Reap is the Shinta Mani Club and Resort. Designed by luxury hotel maestro, Bill Bensley (Bangkok based and Harvard educated), the Shinta Mani sets the standard for haute hotels in Cambodia. A few descriptive words to get you in the mood: the fragrance of water lotus flowers; green malachite; ocean blue glass; swinging day beds suspended over a pool of orange goldfish; sweet Cambodian jellies; baskets of hanging green ferns; open hearts.
Proving that true beauty isn't ever just skin deep, the Shinta Mani also has a strong commitment to responsible tourism. A percentage of your room rate goes to the Shinta Mani Foundation which then donates the money to local community projects - medical programs, English lessons and schools (like Human and Hope Association who make Alexandria Main beach bags).
There are two Shinta Mani hotels - the Shinta Mani Club, and the Shinta Mani Resort, directly across the road. Distinguished from the Resort by being a little smaller, the Club is decorated in shades of orange and grey and rooms are designed for privacy. It has a large lap pool where ice creams are handed out in the afternoon. A tiny spa is located upstairs - head there for a banana leaf body wrap after a day at the temples. Play a game of bespoke Shinta Mani Monopoly in your room before lounging on a hanging day bed over a goldfish pond at dinner time. (Tip: don't drink too much alcohol on a swinging bed: queasy gets doubled.)
The Shinta Mani Resort is directly opposite and slightly larger than the Club. The Resort maintains a boutique feel, with low rise buildings wrapped around a large grass courtyard, a large pool sunk in the centre. Malachite print cushions and deep blue glasses complement large hanging fern baskets in the restaurant.
When the shopping bug calls you, pop outside the hotel gates, turn towards the river and walk a few steps to the delicious Wa Gallery. Owned by a French expat, Cambodian style is melded with French flair in Wa. You can buy armfuls of multicoloured shagreen bangles, fluorescent Buddhas to drape on chains around your neck and the traditional krama (checked Cambodian scarves) refashioned in the softest Tibetan cashmere. Heading around to the road parallel to the river, turn left and you'll get to Foreign Correspondent's Club (sister property to the famed FCC in Phnom Penh) where you can dine al fresco in the tropical night heat, while bats glide over head.
Junction of Oum Khun and 14th Street,
Shinta Mani Club: Rooms from USD $220 (including taxes, breakfast and free wifi)
Shinta Mani Resort: Rooms from USD $185 (including taxes, breakfast and free wifi)
[* This is an unpaid review. I pay all my own way at every hotel I stay.]
Lobby at the Shinta Mani Club
Lobby at the Shinta Mani
Restaurant at the Shinta Mani Resort