Spending Christmas in Cambodia was a humbling and joyous experience. Besides fulfilling a lifetime’s dream of wanting to visit Angkor Wat – a magical and almost surreal site to behold, we also became acquainted with the gentle, happy people of one of Southeast Asia’s poorest countries. With tourism now firmly on the map, we wanted to fit Cambodia into our itinerary before it fell victim to mass commercialization. And I’m so glad we did.

Though not in our original plans, the Shinta Mani Resort ended up being an inspired choice – a last minute booking after we changed our original accommodation choice to be closer to the city centre. Best described as colonial chic meets Asian hospitality, this was an exceptional hotel experience. Located just on the periphery of what’s considered downtown Siem Reap, Shinta Mani actually consists of two resorts opposite one another. We really enjoyed having the flexibility to spend time between our resort and the Shinta Mani Club, opting to have breakfast across the road at Kroya, which gets a shout out for some inventive Khmer cuisine. There’s a decent sized pool within a pretty, landscaped inner courtyard framed by the low-rise guestrooms.

Our room was on the upper floor, and we enjoyed sitting on our balcony after a long day of sight-seeing, sipping cold drinks as the sun went down. Designed by famous hotel architect and interiors genius Bill Bensley, the decor is a mixture of wrought iron beds, teak furnishing and Khmer design touches. The bathrooms are probably the weakest part of the rooms, and it’s worth mentioning that the soundproofing also isn’t great.

Regardless, the Shinta Mani deserves it’s many accolades. It offers a premium product firmly grounded in Cambodian hospitality, delivered by the most wonderful staff. Nothing was too much trouble, and the staff go out of their way to ensure you have nothing short of exceptional service levels. We booked one of the Hotel’s tuk-tuk’s to see the temples (an amazing experience in itself), and the front of house team are a credit to the Hotel, greeting you with friendly smiles and cold towels each and every time you return back to the resort.

The Verdict
There’s very little to fault with the overall experience itself. Most importantly, the Shinta Mani’s business philosophy champions developing the next generation of Cambodian hoteliers through supporting various apprenticeship schemes, and the resort actively gives back to the community via a number of initiatives. We found these principles to be incredibly merit-worthy, and were very pleased to have spent our accommodation dollars to make a small contribution towards their noble cause.

Hotel – 8/10
Experience 10/10