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Friday, January 9, 2015

Siem Reap Diaries: Shinta Mani Club - Your Gateway to Angkor Wat

Backpacking across IndoChina and Europe was one of those things that I had to do as young man. I remember doing this with friends from medical school a long time ago.  We stayed in this guest house in Siem Reap which was under $50 per night. It had dreary lighting, sconces reminiscent of a funeral parlor and uncomfortable beds but the promise of the Angkor Wat's grandeur was enough to make me overlook all of those things.

Fast forward to 2014. I am already 30 years old with the stress of residency training in my hands.  At this point in your life, you want the finer things in life. A beautiful hotel can set the mood for the rest of the trip. If you could pick the best accommodation, why wouldn't you, right? After carefully searching and reading all the reviews, I ended up choosing what would be one of my favorite hotels to date- Shinta Mani Club.

Shinta Manila Club is a sophisticated and upscale boutique hotel located in Central Siem Reap. When you have a genius like Bill Bensley in charge of the design, you are sure that you'll have a unique hotel experience.

Beautiful lotus flower arrangements.

Upon our arrival, we had our second taste of Cambodian hospitality (We spent our first night in Anantara Resort and Spa).  We were immediately given our choice of bubbly before we were whisked away to our room. 

The receiving area smelled like Christmas! 

The hallway leads to this internal courtyard - an oasis in this city.

Since I requested for two twin beds and it was not yet available upon our arrival, they first brought us to our temporary room with with a queen-sized bed. 

The orange and white hues went perfectly with our drink.

Angkorian elements everywhere. 

Spacious closet space.

Bathroom with modern industrial design.

We were transferred to the room I requested later during the day.

We had a huge balcony overlooking the palm-tree lined pool area and internal courtyard.

I want to copy this for my room!

Inviting day bed after a whole of of Temple Hopping.

Best part of the hotel is the pool area where I could just sit the whole day.

If you fancy a massage, the hotel has a Spa that might be what you need when you are exhausted.

On the eve of my birthday, we had dinner at our hotel's Kroya (means food in Royal Khmer) Restaurant. We had a degustacion that introduced me to the culinary wonders of Khmer Cooking. Kroya restaurant is famous for its  hip dining area with maps on the ceiling and suspending dining swi

Above Kroya, you'll find the Bensley's Bar - a striking and relaxing space that serves cocktails and your choice of Asian or Spanish tapas. Try the Open Heart Cocktail -  a mix of Cuban Rum, passion fruit, mint leaves and palm sugar. FYI, the hotel's motto is Open Doors. Open Hearts.

Shinta Mani Resort.

Right across from Shinta Mani is its equally impressive sister resort - Shinta Mani Resort. If you are staying at the club, you have access to all the restaurants and amenities of this Resort. 

A slow-loris hangs from the wall. 

It becomes more magical at night.

Although the pool here is bigger, I like the length and size of SMC's pool more.

Another Entrance of Shinta Mani Resort. 

Design Heaven.

The rooms - also modern and minimalist. "The world can be amazing when you are slightly strange". Agree?

What to do:

With more than two-hundred temples in Siem Reap, it would be best to see the big temples and a few smaller ones. The staff can easily arrange tuk-tuk tour or your own private vehicle when you go to the Angkor Complex (You can buy a one-day pass for $20 or two-three day pass for $40). 

The Guardian of Bayon Temple and the Lake. 

A few meters from the Bayon Complex is another beautiful temple surrounded by water. 

The tree-hugged temples made more famous by Angelina Jolie's Tomb Raider. 

The majestic and commanding Angkor Wat - a sight to behold at sunrise.

With the hot air balloon ride rising above Angkor. 

Shinta Mani Club is now on my list of favorite hotels. It's no surprise that Shinta Mani Club and Shinta Mani Resort dominate the TripAdvisor site. 

To be continued. Next blog post: Anantara Resort and Spa.

Shinta Mani Club
Junction of Oum Khun and 14th Street, Siem Reap, Cambodia, 85563

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