I was a little disappointed that the exterior of the Raffles Grand Hotel d'Angkor in Siem Reap is not more impressive and the lobby was not on a grander scale. However, I met Nikki (F&B Manager) in the lobby and she began explaining the history of the hotel and I soon began to fall in love with it.
The hotel dates back to the 1930s and Charlie Chaplin was a guest, Jackie Onassis visited etc. The original lobby elevator was pointed out, along with various historical photos of the hotel and its sister hotel by Angkor Wat, the latter hotel no longer exists.
The Conservatory & Elephant Bar
This is a light and airy colonial style area off the lobby that looked perfect as a place to have a lazy afternoon tea or a late afternoon cocktail. Next to it is the darker Elephant Bar, that is open from 4pm.
Restaurant Le Grand & Café d'Angkor
We walked around Restaurant Le Grand with its impressive wine room. Nikki explained the King of Cambodia has given then access to the Royal Khmer palace cookbooks, a huge help after so many books were destroyed in Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge regime.
Then we walked past Café d'Angkor. It is a more casual dining restaurant that serves a Sunday brunch famous in Siem Reap.
We walked down the corridor of the wing added in 1997, after Raffles took over management of the hotel, and it still had a beautiful historical feel. Nikki explained guests are given physical keys and I mentioned I was not keen on these at The Ritz in London.
I was then shown around one of the two stunning villas, which have a sophisticated monied feel to them, with Persian rugs, sculptures etc
We ended the tour with Nikki ordering Billecarte-Salmon champagne for me in the Poolside Terrace and the charming French Hotel Manager Charles coming to say hello.
While I chatted with Nikki we learnt we are both fans of Moustafa at Four Seasons Chiang Mai. I had dinner with him, and his wife, at Four Seasons Koh Samui.
As we were saying goodbye Nikki presented me with an elephant soft toy made by a local Cambodian charity and a Cambodian welcome scarf from the Raffles Grand d'Angkor in Siem Reap.
I have decided to name my new friend Nikki, in honour of my incredible guide/new friend.
🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻 🐻 (6 out of 5 ‘teddies’) - this hotel gets an extra 'teddy' for all its history, brilliant Nikki, the Billecart-Salmon champagne and my new friend. It is hotel for anyone who values history and style. My tip: even if you do not stay there, go for a cocktail to soak up the historical/beautiful atmosphere.