Aman properties are as distinct as their destinations and Amansara is no exception. The personalised, warm welcome begins as you enter the gated residence and continues throughout your stay. The catch phrase from the staff is “welcome home” and they are right. You instantly feel at home as you relax into the chic vibe of the place.
The mod sixties design of Amansara is a highlight and you may well feel like an extra in a James Bond film (from the Sean Connery days). Originally built in 1962 as the guest residence of King Sihanouk, by French architect Laurent Mondet, it accommodated visitors unable to stay at the royal residence nearby. Dignitaries such as former French President Charles de Gaulle, Jacqueline Kennedy and actor Peter O’Toole stayed here during its heyday, so it definitely has star appeal.
Reimagined as a resort by Aman in 2002, the property celebrates its design with low slung chalets and has expanded to add more guest rooms which retain the retro-chic feel of the main buildings. It’s a peaceful oasis in the city shielded from the traffic noise thanks to the clever design of the exterior walls and the perfectly placed guest rooms. It’s an escapists’ dream and definitely for the design-conscious guest.
The fabulous suites
Amansara has 24 suites, all similar in design, featuring an open plan setting with finishes in terrazzo and timber. Colours are muted and earthy with off-white throughout, dark wood and rough-cut stone add contrast. The large writing desk and a big comfy king size bed makes way for a dual sink, open plan bathroom and a walk-in shower. For top of the range rooms, the pool villas feature a private terrace, day bed and private plunge pool.
Every whim is catered for,with an all-included personal mini-bar, lush bathrobes, sleepers, yoga mats, sarong, basket and sun hats. The wifi is faster than you have at home and by the bedside there’s a personal ipad to control music and discover the local area. There’s no television, which is a refreshing change. You will be too busy enjoying the pool and spa to be tuning to the local version of Gogglebox.
The room rate at Amansara, whilst at the premium end of the market, does include daily excursions to the Angkor Wat temples with private English speaking guide and private transportation with your own driver.
The dining experience
The room rate also includes sunrise continental breakfast before your morning temple tour, hot full breakfast with a la carte menu, a choice of lunch or dinner, all non-alcoholic beverages, freshly baked cookies and cakes (which are delicious), daily fruit and cheese.
The main dining room, a former cinema in the King’s residence, is a modish circular building with a massive seven-metre high ceiling and complemented by outdoor tables overlooking the pool. The main menu features Cambodian-centred cuisine, with an emphasis on simple flavours and the food is exceptional. Its daily-changing menus feature organic produce direct from the market and local suppliers. There’s a well-stocked walk-in cellar and in traditional Aman-style, afternoon tea is served with the most delicious home cooked cakes. Each dining experience boasts the sweet sounds of traditional Khmer musicians playing live with the occasional soloist singer too. For some poolside action there’s the Instagram-friendly original curved slate pool, with shady pergola and loungers, or for the fitness-focussed, the newer 25-metre lap pool which is perfect for a water workout.
The Spa at Amansara
The spa is a place of peace and tranquillity offering personalised wellness and locally-inspired treatments. Decorated with dark wood, there’s an impressive concrete reception desk, some comfy sofas and a jade tiled corridor which leads to the four treatment rooms. From the reception area, which is where pre-consultation and post-treatment tea is taken, you can gaze out to the lush green spa garden with a couple of loungers. However, given the exclusive nature of the resort, most people quietly return to the privacy of their rooms to enjoy a dip in their own private plunge pool (we certainly did).
The treatments at Amansara
Temple Walk (60 minutes, £92) is a foot and leg treatment to soothe tired and aching legs after a day exploring Angkor Wat. It includes a foot and leg scrub with crushed Himalayan salt and jasmine and then uses reflexology points and acupressure on the soles of the feet combined with a soothing leg massage. Then we booked in for Teap Bourn (60 minutes, £92) a massage with a blind therapist who uses his hands to orient himself with your posture and muscle structure and then conducts one of the most impressive, intuitive massages I have ever experienced. A true highlight of the trip.
The best bits
Cocktails on the roof top terrace at sunset. Relax on the day beds with your mixologist working from a tuk-tuk that’s been converted into a bar.
Cambodian noodle breakfast at Amansara’s traditional wooden Khmer Village House which overlooks the ancient royal bathing pool of Srah Srang.