An early rainy-season storm may not make for the ideal conditions for an arrival at the boutique hotel FCC Angkor, but it certainly puts the staff on show. Acting as though the penetration of a single raindrop would be a capital offence, the driver of our courtesy car and the young doorman protect us with their umbrellas, and we are whisked into reception and to our rooms.
It’s a quiet but central location. The main temple complex, with its relaxed colonial-modernist-meets-jungle structure, has comfortable rooms, a relaxing salt-water pool and a thoughtfully-designed menu – yet it’s the hospitality of the staff that, with hindsight, stands out as the overriding feature of the hotel.
Close enough to the centre to stroll into town, but not so close to make you feel guilty for taking a tuk-tuk back after a haggling session at the market, FCC Angkor is on the road out towards Angkor Wat and its sister temples. It’s also handily placed for the National Museum (for a fascinating overview of the journey that has made Cambodia such a rich mix of culture). Meanwhile, the Koulen restaurant, with its all-you-can eat Chinese buffet and Aspara dance show (£7 +drinks) is just a short distance from the building.
The hotel itself was once the French former governor’s mansion – that’ll explain the colonial-style frontage where the restaurant is sited, and from which we sip our cocktails and watch the tuk-tuks buzz past. The guest rooms are thoughtfully situated at the rear. Here, the modernist blocks have been retained (the building was completely restored in 2002), as have the mature trees, which soften the right angles, give dappled shelter from sun and rain, and create a peaceful haven. Here, you will also find the zen-like swimming pool and the spa (which offers a range of therapies from a 45-minute nail pamper to the 3.5 hour Touch of Heaven package).
The rooms are muted and tasteful, with the modern features you’d expect from a luxury stay (think Wi-Fi, TV and mini bars). The bathroom offers natural soaps, gels and aromatherapy burners. Soft furnishings come in the form of handwoven fabrics and coverings from all over Cambodia, and artwork takes on an Apsara theme.
But let us not forget why we are here: the temples. FCC is fully aware why Siem Reap is so popular, and the hotel has a flexible range of trips and excursions to help you get the most out of your site visits, with minimal hassle. There are suggested itineraries, certificated guides, and a choice of travel by bike, tuk-tuk, car or van.
Our guide was exceptional, offering historical background, cultural knowledge and restaurant advice. The drivers were thoughtful, friendly and patient – and, like all of the staff we came across, smiling. There may be the odd miscomprehension, but from the chambermaid up, the FCC staff help make Cambodia a place to come back to.
Dining: Siem Reap has gained something of a reputation for food and cocktails, and there’s lots of choice at different price levels. The restaurant at FCC is worth a visit whether or not you are a resident. The room itself is stylish but casual, with areas to suit drinks, snacks or meals. The menu is extensive, but not too big. There are no stuffed frogs legs, which can be found elsewhere, but it’s not dull. The fish amok is rich and subtle, while the sticky barbecue pork ribs ticks all the boxes for anyone wanting a reminder of home. Of course, you may want to venture into the centre to try other restaurants. Pub Street is not nearly as pubby as the name implies and is a nice place to eat after a day’s trek round the temples. For residents, the breakfast is more than hearty, with fruits, cereals, Danish pastries and cooked options. The scrambled egg (with tomatoes, onion, spinach, ham and toast) is to be recommended, and the coffee is top notch.
Price: Standard Room from £74.
Address: Pokambor Avenue, next to the Royal Residence, Siem Reap, Cambodia, +855 63 760 280, www.fcchotels.com
Radio Times Travel Rating: 9/10 A tastefully furnished, peaceful hotel with exceptional service, for temple-loving tourists who want to recover in style