Shinta Mani Angkor is a name that has been getting a lot of attention lately, even from those who have not been to Cambodia. For a 39-room boutique hotel, the property seems to be a lot bigger than it really is in terms of citations. This Siem Reap hotel designed by Bill Bensley had humble beginnings but has in recent years reaped countless awards by prestigious publications. It was ranked the #3 best hotel in the world by CNN in 2015. Conde Nast, Travel + Leisure and Tripadvisor have likewise bestowed accolades on the property throughout the years. During my trip to Siem Reap, I wanted to see exactly how a small hotel could possibly stand at the pinnacle of the hospitality scene. This led to my two night stay at Shinta Mani Angkor.
My most recent trip to Siem Reap came nine years after my previous one. In that span of time, the tourism industry in Cambodia has grown exponentially. The sheer number of accommodation choices became palpable as soon as I exited the airport and found myself at the waiting area. A number of drivers were gathered around holding placards containing the name of their respective properties. I spotted the name Shinta Mani from that crowd and waved to my driver who quickly escorted me to the hotel’s van.
Shinta Mani Angkor is located within the inner city – in a quiet street close to the river and the park. Pub Street – which has now become a agglomeration of adjacent roads with restaurants and bars – is around 15 minutes away by foot. I was amazed to see how much Siem Reap has grown in nine years. It is no longer the sleepy outpost from which to discover the temples. Given the plethora of dining and entertainment options that have emerged, it is now perfectly possible to spend a great weekend here without even stepping foot into Angkor Wat.
The door man greeted me with a smile the moment I arrived at the hotel. With a jasmine-scented wet towel in tow, I walked past the snazzy off-white columns and made my way to reception for check-in. Glasses of the property’s welcome drink – an inhouse cocktail – were laid out on the table while I made myself comfortable on one of the custom-made couches.
My room for this particular stay was a Deluxe Room located at the topmost floor of the hotel. My spacious abode for the next two nights had a spacious balcony overlooking the pool and a walk-in closet. The bed faced the window which was a departure from the usual room layout while a desk and minibar lined the opposite side of the bed’s headboard. Being a boutique hotel, there was no ironing equipment provided in-room but one could easily be requested from housekeeping.
One defining amenity of all rooms at Shinta Mani Angkor is the fruit basket which you get not just upon check-in but which is also replenished daily.
My room also came with a coffee maker with packets from Illy Coffee. If I am not mistaken, the machine found in the room is the Francis X7.1 Espresso Machine which can be used to make capuccino and espresso.
A series of faux off-white bricks dominated the walls of the bathroom. It was well-appointed and although there was no tub, I found the shower area to be quite spacious. Toiletries were of the in-house brand. If you love the Jasmine scent permeating the halls of the property, you’d be pleased to find the body lotion carries the same scent. This way, you get to be reminded of the comforts of the hotel even as you explore the Angkor temples on a steaming hot day.
Breakfast at Shinta Mani Angkor
My stay came with breakfast which was held at the hotel’s restarant, Kroya. The morning meal was a mix between buffet and a modest ala carte menu with Western and Khmer dishes. The buffet was where they placed lighter items such as fruits, pastries, yogurt and congee. If you prefer something heavier, you should definitely order from the ala carte menu. There is no limit as to how many dishes you can choose to have.
I particularly loved the Western breakfast selection here. My pancakes and waffles came to me with a distinct crisp and unmistakable milky flavor which I’ve struggled to find in other hotels. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can check out the local noodles as well.
Although not immediately known to most, the hotel has a watering hole in its second storey – named Bensley’s Bar after the architect who designed the hotel. Make sure to try the spicy signature cocktail in the evening after a long day out.
One of the most atmospheric places in the hotel is the swimming pool. While not large by any standards (guests are free to walk across the street to Shinta Mani Shack where there is a bigger pool), it is long enough to swim laps if you decide to cool off after a long day spent out in the temples. There is also an adjacent bar where you can order drinks as you sunbathe or spend a day just lounging around by the poolside.
Having well-appointed rooms, topnotch facilities and design-oriented public areas are pretty much a given in today’s competitive hospitality sector. While Shinta Mani Angkor ticks these boxes, it obviously shines in terms of service – perhaps the trickiest element to master in any hotel. Throughout my stay, I felt so welcomed and constantly taken cared of. These were just some of my distinct experiences:
- Hot towels given each time I came back to the hotel. The jasmine scent was refreshing considering the sometimes punishing climate of Cambodia
- Most staff members seem to be updated about the daily activities of each guest. There was always someone coming up to me asking me about the car I had wanted to arrange or the dinner reservation I wanted to make – things which I had asked about in passing earlier in my stay
- A mobile phone is provided in each room for guests to use in case they get lost or they need to make reservations somewhere — while this feature is starting to emerge in cities like Hong Kong or Singapore, it is still quite a novel concept in Cambodia
- The food in Kroya is excellent and I highly recommend their dinner menu (you can check out my experience at Kroya here)
Shinta Mani Angkor
Junction of Oum Khun Street and 14th Street
Phone: +855 63 761 998