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Hotel Review: Park Hyatt Siem Reap

by on November 19, 2013 · 27 comments

in Hotel Reviews, Hyatt

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After a couple days in Bangkok, the next stop on TPG Managing Editor Eric Rosen’s Southeast Asia adventure was Siem Reap, Cambodia, where he stayed at the recently opened Park Hyatt Siem Reap. Here’s his review.

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When my Asia trip was coming together and I knew that I’d have the chance to visit Siem Reap and the temples of Angkor, I knew I definitely wanted to check out the Park Hyatt Siem Reap, which took over one of Siem Reap’s grande dames, the Hotel de la Paix right in the center of town in 2012 and recently reopened in August.

I know there are cheaper options around including a lot of charming guest houses and even the Le Meridien where TPG stayed last year, but that’s a bit outside of town, and this was an exciting hew Hyatt property where you can earn and redeem Gold Passport points and looked beautiful, so I decided to stay there this time.

I was looking at my November dates back in September, and the best rate I could nail down then was a prepaid nightly rate of $328 for a Standard Park King. Other than that, nights were going for nearly $400 even for just standard rooms, so I went ahead and booked it. The high room rates (they’ve been running closer to $270-$280) were made more palatable by the fact that the hotel is running an opening special where if you stay before November 30, you get a bonus 1,500 Hyatt points (book directly through Hyatt using the offer code GP675), plus this stay would put me closer to reaching at least 5,000 bonus points with Hyatt’s fall promo, which I should hit later this week at the Park Hyatt Saigon (review to come), so it seemed worth it.

If you’re interested in staying here, though, you can snag an award night for 15,000 points since this is a Category 4 property (so the point redemption level won’t change post-devaluation in January).

The Style and Rooms

This is the first Hyatt property in Cambodia and has just 108 rooms including 13 suites (four of which have their own private plunge pools). It is smack dab in the heart of town and just a 15-minute drive from the entrance to the  Angkor Archaeological Park.

By day the Living Room is bright purple-pink, but by night it turns into a swanky lounge.

By day the Living Room is bright purple-pink, but by night it turns into a swanky lounge.

Hyatt hired Bangkok-based interior designer Bill Bensley, who’s worked on other projects like the Four Seasons Koh Samui and the Siam in Bangkok, to oversee the redo of the historic property and he marked it with his signature minimalist-chic style while also paying homage to the building’s fabulous Art Deco elements.

Guests are checked in by a personal representative in the new Living Room, a lounge bar that is stark shades of black wood and pink-purple velvet by day, but which transforms into a sophisticated, candlelit space by night (with half-price happy hour cocktails to refresh you after a day out sightseeing). Here’s where I hit my first snag. Though the staff was very friendly and solicitous, their English was…well, not quite up to scratch, and it took them a good 30 minutes to check me in – no explanation why they had difficulty locating my reservation, or anything else.

The rotunda and room corridors on the third floor.

The rotunda and room corridors on the third floor.

There is a small, circular central atrium with a dome-shaped ceiling meant to evoke the roofs of the Angkor temples, with a skylight up at the roof, and each floor has a kind of living room surrounding this light space with armchairs, sofas and shelves of books and colorful boxes for accents of color. Two corridors radiate off it on each floor, perpendicular to one another.

The first room my hotel rep took me to was right next to the elevators and I asked him to change it. He said he would see what he could do while I came back to the Living Room with him, and in a few minutes he came back with another key for a room on the third floor (the top one, and what would be the 4th floor in the US) at the end of the hall. Much better, though no Hyatt Platinum upgrade for me, it seemed.

Entering my Park King room.

Entering my Park King room.

Rooms start at 35 square meters (about 370 square feet) and are decorated with a contemporary take on traditional Khmer art including metallic sculpted headboards shaped like banyan trees and dark hardwood floors and furniture.

PHSR bed

While on the contemporary side, beds are dressed in crisp white linens, the sectional lounge that ran the whole length of the room had eye-catching yellow upholstery, the nightstand had an antiqued mirrored surface, and the bathroom was all marble with wooden shutters separating it from the bedroom, a deep soaking tub, huge walk-in shower with handheld and rainfall showerheads, a separate WC and two vanities.

PHSR sofa

The room also had a 40-inch plasma TV with cable and satellite, a DVD player, wall-mounted speakers, high-speed internet that was reliable and fast.

Love modern tech touches like the media hub.

Love modern tech touches like the media hub.

My favorite morning amenity, a Nespresso coffee machine – though mine was on the fritz the first morning and they had to replace it – and I really needed that coffee before the early morning trek to Angkor Wat!

Why wouldn't my Nespresso machine work!?

Why wouldn’t my Nespresso machine work!?

All in all, I though the room was gorgeous, and my only two quibbles were that the sectional took up too much of the room, and that the variety of switches for all the lights, the fan, etc. were a bit hard to navigate and more than once, I shut off all the power in my room including the A/C by hitting the master switch, which I thought would only be for the lights.

PHSR bath

There were also a few new hotel kinks to work out – like the Nespresso machine and the English language skills barrier, but also things like my shower wasn’t running one evening and someone had to come fix it – so hopefully they’ll resolve those before long.

The marble bathroom was palatial.

The marble bathroom was palatial.

Other Amenities

Apart from the rooms, the hotel has a few other interesting features. The Living Room is one of the top spots for cocktails according to expats living in Siem Reap and it got into full swing around 8pm in the evenings.

The hotel also had a lovely formal restaurant called the Dining Room, which serves French-influenced Khmer dishes, and on the far side of the Living Room was the small Glasshouse Deli & Patisserie, where guests can grab breakfast in the morning and other things throughout the day like sandwiches, salads, pizzas and pastries.

Light bites on display at The Deli.

Light bites on display at The Deli.

The pool is on the first floor (one floor up from ground level) and is “free-form” though it has straight edges, but it flows into a variety of little lagoon-like pools and is partly in the sun and partly in the shade, which is a blessing on those super hot days here where you just need some relief from the sun and heat. At the end of the pool area is the entrance to the spa and fitness center. The fitness center is actually pretty decent sized with all-new equipment and a variety of cardio and weight machines.

The spa consists of 6 individual treatment rooms (some of them for couples) as well as a rooftop relaxation area for private yoga classes and foot massages. The treatments are extremely reasonably priced, with hour-long massages and facials going for about $65. The hotel was actually having a few spa specials during my stay, so I booked one, which was a combination hour-long Apsara massage – healing and relaxation, named after the heavenly dancers sculpted into scenes at Angkor Wat – and an hour-long foot massage (which was awesome!) for the grand total of $100 instead of the $130 it would normally be. Both treatments were performed by the same therapist and both were really enjoyable – I’d highly recommend.

The spa is small but lovely and treatments are a bargain.

The spa is small but lovely and treatments are a bargain.

Other than that, I’d say that the hotel’s central location is a blessing and a curse. It’s great because everyone in town knows the hotel and it’s easy to get everywhere from there, whether you’re just walking out to Pub Street, the Old Market or the River, or if you need a tuk tuk or car to pick you up or bring you back from a day out at the temples or on a tour.

However, due to the fact that Siem Reap has developed so rapidly and chaotically in the past few years, the center of town is a congested mess, and though the hotel grounds are beautiful, right out front you’ve got a very busy intersection, a KFC right across the road, and my room overlooked the pool and then rundown shanties right over the wall. It’s a good reminder of the stark contrasts inherent in Cambodia, but if you’re looking for peace and quiet, you might want something farther out of town.

The lovely verandah behind the Living Room overlooking small gardens.

The lovely verandah behind the Living Room overlooking small gardens.

All in all, I’d rate my stay as good not great thanks to a bunch of operating kinks, the subpar language skills of the staff, and the melee right outside the door. However, the rooms are beautiful, the public areas including the Living Room and the spa are really cool experiences, and it’s great to be able to earn or redeem points in this corner of the world at a high-caliber Hyatt.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Elle Taylor

    I find it hard to grasp why you’d go all the way to Cambodia and stay in a place that looks like Anywheresville in the US. Is travel only about the points? When I was in Siem Reap, I stayed at cool, funky hotel that I will never forget. Your place looks like a place I’d forget about while I was still staying there… Yawn.

  • DWT

    @Eric– How did you get back to the airport from the hotel? One of the complaints I’ve read is that taxis do not pick up at the hotel, and the property tries to push their house car (at a charge of US $50) for the very short ride to the airport.

  • Eric

    I think this is a bit of a reflexive response and that perhaps you skipped over some of the points of the review where I acknowledge there are other options and that this is a landmark Art Deco property that is definitely not forgettable. Of course travel is not all about points, but this was a beautiful place to stay, the points were a plus – and a good option for those who have points and might not otherwise be able to visit, and for that reason it’s worth staying there.

  • Eric

    The hotel did have a car that would have cost $50, but I just asked them to call a taxi (cost $8) and they did. It took 2 minutes, no problem.

  • iahphx

    I feel like I’m on a personal mission not to have folks waste their money on expensive chain hotels in Siem Reap. :) First-time visitors, especially from the West, are generally unaware of the fact that while this is Cambodia, it is definitely not a third-world hotel scene. There are dozens of great places to stay, and almost all of them offer fantastic value — EXCEPT the Western chain hotels which are outrageously overpriced compared to the competition! I see that the Hyatt is only rated the 47th best hotel on tripadvisor for Siem Reap: I think that tells you all you need to know. Compare prices and reviews, get a great deal, and avoid the chains there.

  • Eric

    It’s also relatively new – open just 3 months, which means it hasn’t had any time on the TripAdvisor ratings, for whatever you value those at. And again, some folks do want to know how to use points to stay in a destination like this one, and the fact that the hotel has just newly become a Hyatt and was beautifully restored and redecorated is a bonus.

  • Nick

    Eric- a silly question, I know, but since I’m staying there in February it’s on my mind– it looks like in one of the trip reports I’ve read show the toiletries are June Jacobs, which is the Grand Hyatt brand? That’s somewhat of a disappointment for a Park Hyatt, no? Unless they’ve swapped them out for the Le Labo / Blaise Mautin brand standard in the meantime…?

  • Cory

    I stayed at a clean, comfortable hotel room a short walk to the pub area for less than $10 per night. If you need luxury and fancy that is one thing. But, Siem Reap is definitely not a place where spending points is worth it, and if cost and using points to save money is your main goal in this game then find a cheap place and save your money and points for another day.

  • Eric

    They are June Martin bath products (I’d rate them the same as Blaise Mautin) – which is not anything too special, but I think that only matters inasmuch as you choose a hotel by its toiletries. They’re one small amenity. I do love Molton Brown personally, though :)

  • DWT

    Good to hear, thanks. I’m looking forward to a stay at this property in February!

  • Scott

    Well, I guess I’ll pile on a little. I also can’t understand why anyone would go to an inexpensive vacation destination and then pick an american hotel chain which is charging downtown sfo rates. I’d recommend readers seriously look at staying at a local boutique hotel, rather than being overcharged for familiarity while in SE Asia.

    And why no blog entry about what to do in bkk?

  • Ben

    If you want to stay at non-chain hotels when traveling for pleasure and still stay for free, I would recommend looking into OTA point programs. Orbtiz combined with their Capital One card has allowed me to stay at boutique hotels, resorts and apartments in Iceland, Argentina and Thailand. Hotels.com also offers some great non-chain options in most locations. Another possibility that I have just started exploring is using UR points through their travel portal for non-chain hotel stays. And if you do want to stay at a chain, just do a UR partner transfer.

  • Nick

    Oh, I totally recognize how silly it is to choose a hotel based on toiletries… but that doesn’t mean when I’m at the Parker Palm Springs I don’t open up my dopp kit and hoard those Molton Brown / Penhaligon’s suckers like an old lady at a buffet. Personally, I’m looking forward to the Hermes toiletries at the Sofitel Metropole in Hanoi…

  • Concerned Citizen

    this is just too far. I hold my tongue when I read the Bangkok trip reviews. I tie my hands at the Vietnam luxury travel. I say nothing about the Bali and Koh Samui overpaying.

    But Cambodia? Seriously? Half-price cocktails in the land of $1 beers and $2 cocktails? $65 massages you could get for $10? Expensive hotel restaurant when you can get a fabulous full breakfast for $2-3?

    If you go to Cambodia and do this, you are doing it wrong.

  • Duncan

    I get the reactions to a Park Hyatt in Cambodia. But at the same time, where history and location and seclusion are involved, the stakes change. Why be exclusively for or against this kind of travel? On a recent trip to Paris, we stayed two nights at the Park Hyatt and two in a Montmartre B&B for $100/night. Completely different experiences, and both were Parisian. One was more rustic and other had a much better bed. I say, do it all!

  • nvd

    I stayed at the hotel when it was the de la paix and preferred that feel to what it looks like now… what a shame.

  • Lol

    Wow.

    Just wow.

  • LeClair

    unlike the other commenters, for me it has not to do with “overspending” or personal costs or the experience value. its that cambodia, by almost any measure, is among the 3 poorest countries outside of africa.

    i enjoy hyatts as much as anyone. in tokyo, hakone, hong kong, zurich, and hopefully soon in vienna.

    but to spend 300$ a night in a western chain hotel when 1/4 of the country lives on that amount a YEAR…. for me would personally feel wrong.

    …especially if they dont have hermes hand lotion, how is the cheap stuff going to look in my cx zegna amenity kit!!!!!…

  • babs

    Just returned from Thailand -Cambodia and Bali. Stayed at the 2 Radissons in Bangkok to use points. Chains are chains to me very ho-hum. Personally i prefer the local flavor. In Phenom Penh I found the most charming hotel of my trip. Felt like I was in the film Casablanca.$50 a night with breakfast. I highly recommend The Pavillion. In Siem Reap my small hotel included daily use of a tuk tuk for every night I stayed. A welcome break from the constant haggling. And a great way to see all of Angkor Wat and get to Pub Street for those 50 cent beers.

    A welcome break from haggling the price.

  • Eric

    I’m going to be spending more time in Bangkok with more things to do, so waiting until then to post.

    And this had nothing to do with familiarity – it was a beautiful new hotel to try out. Just because something is expensive doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying.

  • Eric

    Inasmuch as one can “do” a place wrong, you have to have strong opinions to start with, but I didn’t say anything about how expensive breakfast is, and the half-price cocktails worked out to be $2.50 each – so they’re on par with your calculations.

  • Eric

    I’m not sure I follow your reasoning – you should only base your hotel rates on the average income in a country?

  • LeClair

    If you want to put it that way, sure. The local economic health is one of the determinants of my choice in dress and consumption behavior. My business territory includes Switzerland one day and Serbia the next. And in the latter I’m for sure not clad in a 3-piece worsted suit with an IWC watch on my wrist. Not out of safety concern, but purely from respect or the local context.

    It is discomforting being served an 20$ glass of single malt by an attendant who lives in a straw shack with 6 other family members. Call it first-world-guilt. But its how I feel

  • Scott

    Its funny because Bangkok is so much fun, but none of the bloggers ever post beyond visiting a temple or two and trying some street food.

    Oh, I agree about expensive things. It just seems like the international hotels are out of character with the destination, and charge a huge premium which is way out of proportion to some of these inexpensive destinations. I think that’s why you’ve got so much of that kind of feedback. Plus, the travel bloggers do this over and over (pimping the JW when the Lebua is so much cooler and often $100), so that is another reason the comments come out.

  • UrbanPhoenixInjunCAM

    Maybe you should’ve spoken English slower and louder. You will find that the locals will surprisingly become fluent in English quickly. I got this tip from Rick Steve.

    I agree that staying at his Posh hotel while alot of the locals are never going to spend a night there is kinda revolting.

  • Ed Carney

    You can stay in a Cambodian garbage dump if you want but some of us Prefer to see the sights but sleep in a Park Hyatt

  • Missy

    Please can you share the name of where you stayed in Siem Reap? Thank you.

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