Historic Grande Dame returns to Angkor’s tourist trail
Following a six-month refurbishment, the historic Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor has opened its doors once again.
First opened in 1932, the luxury hotel was built to accommodate early tourists wanting to see the ruins of Angkor Wat, the world’s largest religious temple complex. It was part of a plan to build five hotels throughout French Indochina and when completed was second only in importance and size to the Hotel Le Royal in Phnom Penh, which opened in 1929.
French architect Ernest Hebrard proposed the idea of a luxury hotel in Siem Reap to replace the bungalows which could no longer accommodate the increasing numbers of wealthier tourists visiting the area.
The hotel was constructed in the French Colonial style which was popular at the time, with strong Art-Deco influences. On its debut, it was considered ahead of its time and was described in contemporary brochures as being ‘replete with all modern comforts’. Ultra-modern facilities included indoor plumbing, private bathrooms and a wrought iron elevator.
Highlights that guests could expect in the 1930s included torch-lit Khmer dancers accompanied by traditional musicians at Angkor Wat, excursions by elephant, motor tours and the jungle at the rear of the hotel was cleared and levelled and a small private golf course built.
It was was often referred to as the ‘Grande Dame de Angkor’ and over the years has welcomed famous faces from Charlie Chaplin to Jackie Kennedy, Princess Margaret, Lord Snowdon, Charles de Gaulle and – more recently – Michelle Obama.
Today, Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor is one of the landmark historic hotels of the legendary ‘Grand Tour of Indochina’, beginning in Laos, continuing into Vietnam and the Mekong delta before ending up at Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
This year’s refurbishment work has included refreshing the famous facade and all 119 rooms and suites have received a facelift. Warm, hardwood floors and lighter interiors have been introduced, as well as mod cons such as Segafredo coffee machines and USB charging stations. Bathrooms now boast Italian tiling and rain showers and some feature claw-foot baths with views over the pool. The stunning property is attractively fronted by 15 acres of gardens.
The hotel is located 20 minutes from the UNESCO temples of Angkor. Raffles Curated Journeys & Resort Programmes include exploring the Angkor complex temples by Vespa, tuk-tuk art tours around town, Khmer Culinary Discovery tours and guided tours of Siem Reap’s Kandal Village neighbourhood with a Raffles butler.