When planning this trip with my sister I had two goals: to introduce her to some of my favorite destinations in Asia and to find some new ones for myself. Siem Reap easily satisfied both requirements. The famous Ankor temple complex was lost in the jungles until discovered by French explorers in the early 1900s, yet decades of war and civil strife, until recently, kept most tourists away.
Trip Report Index
- Trip Report Introduction: Taking My Sister to Asia for Two Weeks
- Review: Cathay Pacific First Class SFO-HKG (Last of the 747s)
- Review: Grand Hyatt Hong Kong (after Renovations)
- Revisiting the Old, and Finding New Favorite Activities in Hong Kong
- Review: Dragonair Economy Class to Chiang Mai (HKG-CNX)
- Review: Le Meridien Chiang Mai
- Visiting the Baanchang Elephant Park in Chiang Mai
- Chiang Mai: Like Bangkok without the Crowds
- Review: Flying Bangkok Airways to Siem Reap and the Best Free Airport Lounge
I was very excited about our stay at the Park Hyatt Siem Reap. Only recently opened in 2013 after it was rebranded from the former Hotel de la Paix, this would actually be my first stay at a Park Hyatt property. Upon arriving, it turned out to be more of a cross between the traditional grandeur of some of the best Grand Hyatt properties with the smaller size and attention to detail of an Andaz.
Many large, historic hotels are located on the city’s outskirts on the way to the temples, but the Park Hyatt is in a compact building with a few central courtyards and just a block from the main tourist district. It was very convenient. I can’t imagine staying anywhere else, though there are many hostels nearby if you want cheaper accommodations.
Katherine and I were greeted at the small porte-cochère and invited to check in with a cocktail at The Living Room, a bar and lounge with an additional outdoor verandah that faces the street (although there is a wall and garden that blocks the view, you’re not missing much). Our suite was confirmed in advance with a Diamond Suite Upgrade, and I explained during check-in that I would be paying the bill using Hyatt Gift Checks. This was a smart move as the employees were unfamiliar with them and asked to take a photocopy to follow up with the general manager the next day. By the time I checked out a few days later, there were no delays.
Our own living room was lovely, with a large sitting area, desk, and a view of the central courtyard. A welcome amenity was waiting for us, along with a note from the manager and some decorative stationery. Another note nearby warned of intermittent power outages due to an unreliable utility. Although the hotel has backup generators, they do take some time to kick in.
Moving into the bedroom, there was still plenty of space but not much of a view. The street outside really doesn’t offer much, so we kept the drapes closed most of our stay. However, we did appreciate a walk-in closet with multiple shelves, a bench, and hanging rods.
And the bathroom can’t be overlooked. A huge soaking tub, walk-in shower, and dual sinks were exactly what I would expect from a hotel of this caliber. A second half-bath was available in the entry hallway.
Dining and Restaurants
Breakfast was served each morning in a central courtyard oriented around a giant tree. It was not very busy in July, and there appeared to be few guests. Nearly everyone ate outdoors rather than inside the restaurant, and we were invited to pick anything off the menu — the entire charge was waived for me as a Diamond member.
We’d return to this courtyard in the evening to read and work on our computers. Katherine got a kick out of the giant swinging tables. While cocktails at the hotel were good and not too expensive, they still felt outrageous compared to the dirt cheap prices in town, just down the street. I recommend you set aside at least one evening to relax at the hotel, and another evening to go have fun in the bars.
Similarly, the Glasshouse Deli at the rear of the Living Room had great coffee and ice cream, but it felt a little silly to be spending American prices and eating American food in the comfort of what looked — from the inside — like an upscale American cafe. I was in Cambodia! We had some great food at the local restaurants, so enjoy the great options at the Park Hyatt but don’t be satisfied with the comforts of home.
Courtyards and Pools
The service we enjoyed was exceptional, and I have no complaints. Whenever I sat down to enjoy a book or newspaper I’d find a waiter appear and ask if I wanted a drink or meal. There are also two pools, but the staff generally stayed out of sight and just made regular rounds to ensure I had the towels and drinks I needed. The smaller, rectangular pool is very private and a good choice for sunbathing.
A larger pool on the upper level is more interesting with several blind corners, lots of vegetation, and a few jet pools.
Remember I said that there was a risk of power outages? We suffered at least one each evening, and the lights would flicker for a bit before returning. But it really wasn’t an issue. The central courtyard was lit up with lanterns and giant fire pits that made it feel like a luxury camping trip. Along with our trips to the nearby town and the Angkor temple complex, Siem Reap was the most relaxing portion or our trip, and I’m eagerly looking forward to returning with my wife.