Minimalist Luxury in Cambodia
The owners however were probably thinking more about the word peace in a diplomatic context since Cambodia emerged from very bloody conflicts with the Khmer Rouge and warring political factions less than a decade ago.
If you’re the type of person into minimalist architecture, sleek lines and lots of clean surfaces, the Hotel De La Paix should be programmed into your GPS navigation system. This is a hotel where a chic Dior ensemble or a cool Varvatos outfit, would not be out of place, though shorts and t-shirts are perfectly acceptable and very much the norm.
Driving up to the hotel via the dusty main road through Siem Reap it immediately hits you that this looks nothing like the dozens of hotels you passed on your way from the airport. Most of the hotels worth throwing $200-$400 per night are situated on acres of manicured lawns with pools, walkways and for the most part, a lush pallet of color.
The Hotel De La Paix on the other hand, is situated on small piece of land that was once a rice depot and before that housed the original “La Paix” hotel. It is well placed in the middle of town where hip bars and great restaurants abound and is only a short distance from the majestic Angkor Wat temple complex.
The hotel also sits across the street from a large construction project that is supposed to bring a shopping mall of iconic luxury goods, to this little slice of Cambodia. One could say that the defining features of the hotel is that to the untrained eye, it wouldn’t stand out enough to draw curiosity seekers and tour buses like its neighbors down the road; the Raffles Grand Hotel D’Angkor and the Le Meridien Resort.
It’s cool leave me alone demeanor would play well in most of the world’s hot spots such as the Meat Packing district in downtown New York, Ocean Drive in South Beach, or Meguro-dori in Tokyo. That is not to say that the architecture of the hotel is not beautiful to look at, because it is. The art deco inspiration that brings whitewashed clean lines and imposing designs motifs such as large urns where fire flames upwards on most nights, to an area which up to now has boasted projects in classical Khmer style, is truly stunning.
Once inside and away from the dust and tuktuk exhaust, you are immediately confronted by a grand Angkor sculpture, an Aspara, that stands alone in a large round foyer boasting cured black stone floors and soft white walls. It is stark and stunningly beautiful. Your fast paced itinerary filled with places to go and souvenirs to buy, will come to a halt if only for a moment, as you take in your surroundings. Urban chill music akin to the Buddha Bar or Hotel Costes collections will immediately envelope the senses. Fabulous people watching, only adds to this understated, but luxurious environment.
You can’t help but want to know what else lies ahead. And indeed, just off the foyer is the Arts Lounge which is dominated by a large glass bar in which fibre optic wires change the colors of the bar itself from hues of yellow to pale blues and daring reds. Large scale couches can be combined into beds for a funky urban feel, while a continuous exhibition of contemporary art lines the walls giving the space a very sophisticated air.
Needless to say guests were drinking everything from Cambodian concocted Grey Goose Martinis, which were delicious, to extremely fresh banana and mango fruit shakes. I was enjoying a great conversation with my “bed mates” most of whom were from England and France when I was told by my hotel representative, yes, every guest is assigned their own personal hotel rep, that my room was ready. The 107 deluxe rooms include nine spa suites and one tremendous pool side duplex suite.
In addition, the hotel’s six stunning courtyard suites with private gardens and plunge pools are situated behind large wooden doors and closed off from the rest of the property, creating a sanctuary within a sanctuary.
Pristine pool that's heavenly on a hot and humid day
at at Hotel De La Paix
Spa Lounge at at Hotel De La Paix.
Overlooking a Khmer-inspired swimming pool and water
garden, the 3 story Spa Indochine offers a haven of
peace and tranquility. 3 Double and 2 single treatment
rooms, an open-air deluxe suite, Thai massage and
expansive rooftop relaxation terrace offer the
ultimate in style and indulgence.
I reserved a standard deluxe room on the second floor over looking the De La Paix’s beautiful pool that is large enough to do laps. A large part of the pool is underneath an overhang lined with sleek daybeds and thick cushions, dramatically opening up to an open air view above of the hotel’s water garden and restaurant.
The room I had was spacious, with large windows allowing a lot natural light in. I found that the rooms facing the street became very hot in the afternoon sun and the others facing the inner courtyard were just as nice as all the rest, but the view was well, of a courtyard.
Since I love a big luxurious bathroom, the Hotel De La Paix didn’t disappoint. Dark woods and soft yellow terrazzo combined to make a cool and calming statement. The bath tub alone, was definitely large enough for two people. Sliding doors of diffused glass make the room at once light and airy, while the separate shower area sported a brushed nickel rain head that truly gave a good dousing with more than enough water pressure to wash away the grit that built up from a full day of touring. Interesting accents such as small niches built into the terrazzo covered walls, house the spa towels while copper urns hold shampoo, lotions, gels and the like.
For those who like their room attended to constantly, this hotel delivers with five star sensibilities. Three times per day, room attendants came in and changed the towels if needed, added flowers, lest the scent of jasmine ever leave the room, plump pillows, turn down the bed and leave delicious snacks fresh from the hotel’s upscale restaurant, Meric.
The restaurant, known for its fusion cuisine, has an indoor-outdoor flow.
Outside tables are situated around a stunning courtyard that boasts a small pond with lotus, black rock and trickling water features.
There are also several large dining beds attached by chains to the breezeway ceiling that gently swing back and forth.
There is nothing like taking your morning coffee on an overstuffed swing swathed in luxurious silks. The interior of the restaurant like the bar is cool and chic with floor to ceiling windows and poured cement floors. The wait staff not only remembers your name, but also remembers what you like to eat.
Although my stay was enjoyable, I do have a short list of criticisms. First, the outside room windows were very dirty. I was told that they are cleaned on a regular basis, but with the amount of construction going on, the dust is hard to keep up with. I will give them that, but none-the-less, the beauty of the hotel includes everything, even the windows in my hotel room. Second, the hotel rooms scream for a plasma screen to be mounted on the walls.
Unfortunately, the room had a 24” remote control television sitting on the dresser drawers. It really did take away from the great design of the room. Lastly, from my perch over looking the pool, you also have great views of apartment units next door, no more than 30’ away, with drying clothes on their balconies and assorted eye sores that if I didn’t pay as much as I had, I wouldn’t really complain. But the hotel is trying to create a unique sanctuary. Higher bamboo or palm trees could be used to block out the disagreeable views.
So in short...
The staff of the hotel wear t-shirts that read, “The Answer is Yes,” which about sums up the quality of service at the hotel. In some places it might have seemed forced, but not here.
Room rates start at $300 per night, but the hotel does run internet specials, periodically.
Click for other luxury hotels in Siem Reap that are currently offering deals.
The Duplex Spa Suites at Hotel De La Paix
offer 108sq. Metres of Luxury living
featuring a private roff top terrace with garden
and oversize plung bath. Enjoy an alfresco meal, customized
spa or post temple body massage with the privacy of your
own roof top hideawa. Room size is 108 sq.m.
The exclusive Pool Suite at Hotel De La Paix offers
a choice of indoor or outdoor
living. Relax or dine on your private pool deck or plunge
directly into the Khmer inspired swimming pool
and water garden. Room size is 64 sq.m.
The Poolside suite at at Hotel De La Paix
Set with a walled coutyard, the 64 square metre garden
suites offer total privacy and seclusion. Luxuriate in the
oversized outdoor tub or relax in the peaceful courtyard
Written by Steve Miller.
Pictures and captions by Holiday In Angkor Wat.
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