Architecture / Interior /

Southeast Asia’s 7 Unique Luxury Hotels

Each year, I try to explore many parts of the world to see and experience the various types of their luxurious hotels. This year my interest falls into Southeast Asia region, from Singapore to the Indochina region such as Cambodia and Laos. For centuries, history has taken note that the region was home to some of the most opulent kingdoms in Asia. During my first visit to Siem Reap, Phnom Penh and Luang Prabang this year, I was impressed not only by their glorious historical past but also by the presence of the great luxury hotel establishments. Here is my selection list of seven unique luxury hotels in the region this year!

Siem Reap, Cambodia

Park Hyatt:
An Art Deco Grandeur

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Do you know that Siem Reap is a home to the first hotel that is ever designed by the celebrated Bill Bensley? Started as an award-winning graduate who works as a landscape architect for an international firm in Singapore, Bensley has garnered many recognitions for his amazing landscape designs in over 100 hotels in Asia alone. However, it was not until 2001 when he had the opportunity to handle every aspect of a hotel in Siem Reap, Cambodia; from the architecture and the interior design to the landscape. The name of the hotel is Park Hyatt Siem Reap and it is Bensley’s first!

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The hotel, which was known as Hotel de la Paix, was originally built in 1957 in a plain-vanilla structure right in the downtown of Siem Reap. In 2001, the new owner hired Bensley to demolish the original building and build a new one. Bensley who was inspired by the grandeur of Angkor Wat and Cambodian long history decided to build an Art Deco hotel, in the classic whitewash theme. The hotel was reopened in 2006 under the same name before going into another 14-month top-to-bottom renovation when it was taken over under Park Hyatt brand in 2012. As the designer, Bensley was once again trusted to do this renovation.

The Khmer inspiration starts from the front of the hotel that resembles a temple. A beautiful apsara statuette (Cambodian dancing maiden) stands in the entrance as piece-de-resistance that juxtaposes with 66 feet impressive oculus, which is homage to the interior towers of Angkor Wat. One of the hotel main focal points is the outdoor terrace with the pond that is adorned with a 50-year-old banyan tree and carved sandstone bowls. Here, the torches at night are set at each corner. This is also the area where beautiful apsara dancers perform every night to entertain the hotel guests. Another great public area showcasing Bensley’s iconic design is the retro-chic and decadent Living Room lounge located on the ground floor opposite the lobby mixing Cambodian, featuring art deco and modern artworks.

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The hotel offers 108 spacious contemporary guest rooms, as well as 13 suites, four of which showcase private plunge pools highlighted with polished Makha-wood floors, custom-made woven rugs from renowned Thai textile designer Ploenchan Pornsurat, and antiqued-pewter light fixtures designed by Australian designer John Underwood. Every room is designed differently in this hotel, adding quirkiness and boutique charm. To his first, Bensley is truly designing a one-of-a-kind hotel that has become his legacy.

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