Temple of time
As one of the most relaxed cities in South East Asia, Siem Reap lulls one into a comfortable easy rhythm. This is more apparent in the French quarter at the 24-suite Amansara. Designed by Laurent Mondet, the modernist property opened in 1962, and was then known as Villa Princiere, hosting statesmen like Charles De Gaulle, and celebrities such as Jackie Kennedy and Peter O’Toole. More than half a century on, Amansara still retains its allure amongst the world’s most illustrious personalities. It’s not difficult to see why. The hotel’s crisply manicured garden and suites with smooth cement floors, burnished jet black wood fittings and retro terrazzo finishing evoke the aesthetic of a simpler, more elegant time and place.
For a palatable sense of a different kind of history, take an early morning journey in a reconditioned former US army jeep to the Angkor Wat complex. The hotel’s guides enjoy unique access to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, so guests have the privilege of seeing different perspectives and sections of the structure in private, before the crowds descend. Later, at the hotel’s Khmer village house located at Angkor Park, a traditional breakfast spread of fresh and sweet local fruits, along with dessert and savoury pastries, is served. To complement the Angkor Wat experience, Amansara’s special relationship with the Conservation D’Angkor Museum presents opportunities for guests to view relics and artefacts up-close-and-personal.
Back at Amansara’s spa, a temple of wellness grounded upon Ayurvedic philosophies and therapies, guests must each complete a questionnaire that assists therapists to prescribe the most appropriate and effective oil blends from Aman Resorts’ eponymous spa product range. Highly recommended: the spa’s signature facial that utilises a bespoke blend of oils, scrubs and masks, all of which help to revitalise and nourish skin that has spent too much time in the sun. For an esoteric touch, the spa’s in-house fortune teller – a kind, elderly Khmer lady – is on hand to read one’s cards and palms, revealing through a translator, surprising insights to one’s life with a knowing, wizened smile.