In the leather seats of a 1960s vintage Mercedes limousine, in the white gloves of its chauffeur holding the door began our experience of Amansara—a gem of a hotel that exudes quality and comfort.
It’s a privileged sort of feeling, to ride in the very same car that once served Jackie Kennedy when she stayed at the Cambodian king Norodom Sihanouk’s guest villa. And it wasn’t the last time we felt this way, when at Amansara.
Aman trademark luxury
Now owned by Aman Resorts, the walled complex of king’s former guesthouse is the home of Amansara—and to enter through its heavy iron gate is to access a peaceful enclave of refinement.
Restored to an understated style of a “James Bond” residence from the sixties, the clean, geometric lines of this serene retreat are reminiscent of sophisticated decadence from the age of fading colonial empires.
The staff is most unintrusive, yet during our stay, they pre-empted every desire we could have. The service, even by the high Asian standards, is in its own league.
Personalized and exclusive
We got—as all guests do—a dedicated, well-informed guide and a custom-fitted remork (tuk-tuk) with driver to ride to town and around the temples, away from the coachloads.
The knowledgeable guides are one of the best parts of the Amansara experience. They will skirt around the crowds in Angkor temples and can access some places normally off-limits to the public: e.g. a warehouse where the Cambodian government stores thousands of priceless Angkor artifacts.
We didn’t get the chance to do it, but we are told for the best experience of the temples the hotel can arrange an exclusive tour with an archeologist, followed by dinner in the Angkor ruins, long after last tourists are gone.
The suites are all done up in a classic Aman style of zen minimalism: cool and spacious, décor utilizing dark timber, stucco, and terrazzo. A freestanding bathtub in the middle, filled in the afternoon and scattered with fresh rose petals was a welcoming sight after a day of temple exploration.
Suites have a water garden in an enclosed courtyard and 12 out of 24 of them also boast private swimming pools (they are bliss on a hot day!).
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Afternoons and evenings
A seven-meter-high ceiling soars above the elegantly furnished restaurant, where traditional Khmer and international cuisine reigns—except at teatime, when the complimentary, delicious almond cakes, chocolate tarts, and tarte tatins are served.
One late afternoon, we tried the spa—and later stumbled back to the suite in a state of heavenly shock: the massage was perhaps one of the best we’ve ever had. We came to our normal selves finally in the evening, whilst sipping Mohito under the stars on the Roof Terrace, Amansara’s chic hangout.
Amansara was the first-ever Aman resort we ever visited—but the overall experience was so special that since then we became regulars, so-called “Aman Junkies”. You read that right. This brand of hotels inspires a true following among a loyal clientele, who are happy to exchange three nights at an Aman resort for a week at any other. So make sure to check our reviews from Amanruya, Amanoi, Aman-i-Khas, Amanbagh, Amankila, and Amandari!