Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Siem Reap's Hotel De La Paix


Angkor Wat is Cambodia's penultimate symbol, source of national pride, and hottest travel destination. The network of ancient temples'--built during the height of the ancient Khmer culture and abandoned in the jungle during its decline--attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors annually. Dozens of hotels in the nearby city of Siem Reap accommodate this steady influx.

With so many places to stay, ranging from bargain-basement backpacker joints to ultra-luxe resorts, citing the city's best is sort of like pinpointing the best wedding chapel in Vegas: subjective, at best and damn near impossible. Though a few notables stand out.

One of the premier five-star hotels in Siem Reap is Hotel de la Paix, a resort that fuses modern architecture with a Khmer twist. The resort's Art Deco style distinguishes it from its competitors, as does its commitment to responsible consumption and support of local welfare organizations. Who knows how much of this altruism is PR fluff and what is substantial. 

Still, visiting a city that exhibits both ancient and modern opulence also sheds light on those who have been left out (beggars and land mine victims line the streets of Siem Reap). So while your enjoying a customized spa treatment on the rooftop terrace, knowing a portion of the proceeds goes toward helping the folks outside the gates might help ease your conscience and put your mind on the path to relaxation.

Right now, the hotel's Arts Lounge also features a memorial to Khmer Rouge victims and at Christmastime, the hotel runs a toy drive to benefit children at the local hospital.

Guest comments:

Stayed there last summer and can highly recommend it.  Great location near the emerging downtown, and their restaurant is not to be missed.

Best of all, they have some of the best guides for seeing Angkor Wat. A two-day guided tour of the sites, including a guide, private car and driver, is about $60 for two people - a must!

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