Jessy and I scheduled two nights in Siem Reap, Cambodia to visit the temples of Angkor Wat at the tail end of our summer trip to Asia.
Similar to my experience in Phnom Penh (where I stayed at the Courtyard by Marriott), I found Siem Reap to be a very “easy” hotel market in the sense that everything was pretty cheap in terms of both points and cash.
You didn’t have to look very hard to find a suitable hotel at all, whether you wanted an extremely cheap bare-bones place to stay or a higher degree of luxury at a very reasonable price.
On the recommendation of my friend Tiffany from One Mile at a Time, I decided to give the Park Hyatt Siem Reap a go. At a very affordable rate of US$145/night through American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts, I thought this was the perfect place to break my Park Hyatt duck and finally try out the top-tier luxury brand within Hyatt’s portfolio that I’ve been hearing so much about.
By booking through Amex FHR, I was entitled to a room upgrade upon availability, a US$100 food & beverage credit for use during my stay, a daily breakfast for two, and late checkout on the day of departure – basically most of the same perks that a mid-tier elite member would get.
I was therefore feeling pretty excited as our Grab taxi picked us up from Siem Reap International Airport and made the easy 15-minute drive over to the hotel.
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Park Hyatt Siem Reap – Location & Arrival
The Park Hyatt is located quite centrally in the town of Siem Reap, within walking distance of the tourist hotspots near the Siem Reap River, and just a straight tuk-tuk ride down the Charles de Gaulle Road to the main temple complex of Angkor Wat.
The property is housed within a walled and gated compound, separating the serene atmosphere of the Park Hyatt’s interior courtyard from the hustle and bustle of Siem Reap’s city streets outside. Upon being dropped off at the driveway, a bellhop helped us with our bags as we were shown inside the front doors.
The lobby area is relatively small, and is decorated in a simple but tasteful fashion, with a few rose chairs for seating.
Park Hyatt Siem Reap – Check-in
While the Park Hyatt does have an actual front desk down the hallway from here, the check-in procedure is actually completed in the Living Room, the hotel’s cafe and lounge looking out over the central courtyard.
We were even offered a welcome beverage to sip on as we waited for an associate to help us, and furthermore, there was an entire menu of signature lemonades and ice teas that we could choose from.
This type of warm and personalized check-in procedure was something that I had only previously experienced at resorts, and that I wasn’t necessarily expecting here in Siem Reap (although some hotels here do indeed style themselves as resorts). Either way, it made for a fantastic first impression of the Park Hyatt brand.
After a few minutes, a staff member arrived with our folio to introduce us to the hotel and complete the check-in procedure. He reminded us of the benefits that we were entitled to having booked via American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts, and confirmed that the hotel was indeed able to grant us a one-category room upgrade to a Park King Room with Garden View.
He also handed us two separate vouchers: one for the US$100 food and beverage credit, and another one for a complimentary three-course Khmer inspired set menu for either lunch or dinner, to be taken in the restaurant. I was not expecting that second benefit at all (it wasn’t listed anywhere on the Hyatt or Amex websites), but since it was being granted, I wasn’t complaining!
We were in very good spirits as we headed up to our room on the third floor of the building.
Just like its stately bleached-white appearance on the outside, the Park Hyatt’s guest room hallways, featuring a lavish collection of bookshelves and framed art pieces, are designed to look like a grand estate-like residence. I thought it was a welcome departure from anything that I’ve seen from Marriott hotels (where I usually stay).
Park Hyatt Siem Reap – Park King Room
Stepping into Room 306, we found ourselves within a room that wasn’t the largest in terms of square footage, but was pretty reasonable for our two-night stay.
A comfortable king bed occupied most of the space, accompanied by what was perhaps my favourite thing about the room: the leaf-shaped metal sculpture adorning the top of the bed frame.
On the far side of the bed lies a couple of bedside tables, while the television stands opposite it. I very much enjoyed the Eastern furniture styles used in the room, which I thought was a very salient nod to the temples of the ancient Khmer Empire sitting on the hotel’s doorstep.
A spacious sitting area is found by the windows, combining with a table and chair to create a space that can be used for either relaxing, working, or dining.
Then, the pantry and minibar are found in the near corner of the room, featuring a coffee machine, a teapot, and all the glassware and crockery that you’d expect from a five-star hotel.
I was also delighted to see that the Park Hyatt had gone the full distance with the complimentary in-room water, both still and sparkling, as well as leaving us a welcome amenity in the form of a box of macarons.
The bathroom is located by the front door, featuring double sinks, a bathtub, and individual compartments for the toilet and shower.
A sliding door next to the bathtub can be opened or closed, depending on how much privacy is required. To be honest, I find that these “open-concept bathrooms” are almost always a case of style over substance – why would you ever need to exit the tub into the bedroom rather than the rest of the bathroom?
The shower’s water pressure wasn’t the strongest, but it was good enough – and especially on our second night, after one of the hottest, sweatiest travel days I’ve ever had riding a bicycle through the Angkor Wat temple complex, it gave me one of my most satisfying showers in recent memory.
Opposite the door to the bathroom is a spacious closet. We did a load of laundry here at the Park Hyatt Siem Reap, and we later found that the hotel had hung up our freshly laundered garments in the closet without us even realizing it.
While we had been upgraded to this Park King Room with Garden View, the reality is that the views of the interior courtyard weren’t too much to speak of, and we were mostly looking at the other bleached-white walls of the hotel anyway, unless we really craned our necks to look downwards.
Even though it wasn’t the largest room nor a particularly impressive room type, I still liked our room quite a lot, and enjoyed spending time in it.
Park Hyatt’s design principles struck me as a more understated brand of luxury compared to, say, the ostentatiousness of a St. Regis or the “old boys’ club” vibes of a Ritz-Carlton. I thought it was very much to my taste, and our nice room at the Park Hyatt Siem Reap left me curious to try out more Park Hyatt properties in the future.
Park Hyatt Siem Reap – Breakfast
By booking our stay through Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts, we were entitled to daily breakfast for two in the hotel’s Dining Room. Unfortunately, our breakfast on the first morning was very hurried, since our cycle tour of Angkor Wat was starting at the early hour of 6:30am; however, on the second morning, we were able to indulge in breakfast at a much more relaxed pace.
“Breakfast at the Park”, as its known, consists of a reasonably wide selection of à la carte items, as well as a full breakfast buffet spread, and you can choose to eat either in the Dining Room or outdoors in the central courtyard.
The buffet spread was one of the more elaborate ones I’ve seen, serving up both Asian and Western breakfast items in a variety of presentation vessels. There was congee, dim sum, cold cuts, pastries, cereals, and fruits, among many other items.
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While we chose a few items from the buffet, we mostly ordered from the à la carte menu, including items like Eggs Benedict and Cambodian soup noodles. All of the dishes were of a very high quality, and I was very glad to have booked a stay that included breakfast – I just wish we didn’t have to be so rushed on the first morning!
Park Hyatt Siem Reap – Dining
On our second night staying at the hotel, we decided to make use of our complimentary three-course Khmer dinner. Since we also had a US$100 food and drink credit to spend, we decided to order a bottle of wine and some iced tea to go along with our meal, and to really treat ourselves to a nice and relaxing dinner after a long day out in the sun.
The evening happened to coincide with the hotel’s Cultural Dinner & Show, which was being offered on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays, so we got to watch a handful of Cambodian kids putting on a “fight” and a fire show as we enjoyed our meal.
The meal itself was delightful, with a small appetizer and two different types of stir-fried meat dishes followed by a dessert of coconut mochi.
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With some good food, wine, and entertainment in front of us, Jessy and I spent our dinner reflecting on a few highly rewarding travel days in Cambodia, and I’m therefore pleased to say that the generous perk of a complimentary three-course dinner greatly added to our positive experience at the Park Hyatt Siem Reap overall.
(Having said that, I’m not sure I would’ve chosen to eat at the hotel if this complimentary perk weren’t being offered, since as you can imagine, the prices are quite significantly higher than what you’ll find at dozens of excellent local restaurants just down the street.)
Park Hyatt Siem Reap – Other Facilities
The hotel has a wealth of other features for guests to unwind after a long day exploring Siem Reap, or simply to spend a lazy day within the hotel grounds if you’re inclined to do so (most guests are out and about during the day, so the hotel tends to get pretty quiet during that time).
While the Living Room acts as the hotel’s casual lobby lounge, there’s also The Glass House around the corner from it, which is a more put-together spot in case you wanted to grab a coffee, afternoon tea, pastries, or gelato in a slightly more formal setting.
The hotel does have some features that make it seem more like a beachside resort, such as these suspended lounge chairs by the central courtyard, which are a perfect place to relax with a book on a lazy morning after a big breakfast, or to recharge your batteries after spending a day temple-hopping in the sun.
Even better, head for one of the hotel’s two impressive swimming pools to take a dip. On the ground floor of the hotel is the saltwater pool, which is relatively peaceful and quiet, and also a suitable place to actually swim a few laps.
Meanwhile, the larger freshwater pool (but less conducive to swimming due to its free-form nature) is up on the first floor, designed to look more like a lagoon. This pool seemed much more popular with kids and families, and was therefore more rowdy and less relaxing as a result.
Cross the little footbridge here…
…and you’ll find yourself at The Spa, which is also where the hotel’s fitness centre is located.
While I didn’t get a chance to use it, the fitness centre definitely seemed like a very tranquil place to work out, looking out over the water features of the surrounding spa and pool.
Having been truly exhausted by our cycle tour of Angkor Wat and the surrounding temples on the first day, Jessy and I spent the second day mostly relaxing at the hotel, enjoying a nice lie-in in the morning, slowly savouring a big breakfast, and then taking it easy by the saltwater pool for most of the day until our 4pm late checkout.
The Park Hyatt Siem Reap gave me an excellent maiden experience with the Park Hyatt brand. The unique exterior and interior decor, combining French art deco influences with traditional Khmer sensibilities, situates the hotel nicely within the heart of Siem Reap, and the Park King Room had an air of elegance about it that stoked my curiosity to try out even more Park Hyatt hotels in the future.
Even if you don’t have Hyatt status, you’ll enjoy a wealth of elite-equivalent perks by booking through American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts (or similar programs like Hyatt Privé), where the cash rates remain very reasonable given the Cambodian market.
I’d highly recommend the Park Hyatt Siem Reap for any visit to Angkor if you’re looking for some luxury treatment an an accessible price point, and I do look forward to returning one day in the future.