Memories of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Memoire D'Angkor, Siem Reap, Cambodia (Photo by Susan McKee)A series of red “gates” welcomes guests at Mémoire D’Angkor Boutique Hotel, #54 Sivatha Rd, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia. East Asians consider the color a symbol of luck, joy, and happiness, so it’s a most auspicious greeting.

Angkor Wat Temple, Siem Reap, Cambodia (Photo by Susan McKee)Set in the heart of this provincial capital in northwestern Cambodia, Mémoire D’Angkor provides a tranquil respite not far from the fabled ruins of Angkor Wat (above). This massive temple complex (said to be the largest religious monument in the world) was originally constructed in the early 12th Century as a Hindu temple dedicated to the god Vishnu by the Khmer King Suryavarman II. It was transformed into a Buddhist temple towards the end of the 12th century. The temple represents the pinnacle of high classical style of Khmer architecture. A recognizable symbol of Cambodia, Angkor Wat is pictured on its national flag.

UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) has designated Angkor Wat as one of three World Heritage Sites in Cambodia.

Siem Reap has both colonial and Chinese-style architecture in the Old French Quarter and around the Old Market (Cambodia became part of French Indochina in 1887; it was granted self-rule within the French Union in 1946, and its protectorate status was abolished in 1949). In addition to the temple complex, there are museums, Apsara dance performances, a Cambodian cultural village, souvenir and handicraft shops. Outside the center, there are silk farms, rice paddies, fishing villages and a bird sanctuary near the Tonle Sap Lake.

Lobby, Memoire d'Angkor, Siem Reap, Cambodia (Photo by Susan McKee)Mémoire D’Angkor Boutique Hotel combines traditional details with all the expected Western comfort. Each of the 48 rooms and suites (not to mention the wall behind the front desk, above) are decorated with pieces by Cambodian artist Lim Muy Theam, whose artwork is consciously drawn on philosophical, symbolic, and conceptual foundations of traditional Cambodian culture. I’m sorry I didn’t have time to visit Theam’s Gallery, which features not only his artwork but that of other Khmer creatives.

Mine was just a two-night stay, with the day in between spent exploring Angkor Wat. If I’d had more time, I would have enjoyed the swimming pool lined with patio swings. I looked longingly at the menu for the hotel’s Memoria Spa, but…there was just no time to indulge.

Memoire d'Angkor, Siem Reap, Cambodia (Photo by Susan McKee)
Each guest room has individually-controlled air conditioning, a television with satellite and cable access, free WiFi, coffee/tea-making supplies, and a well-stocked minibar. Expected but nonetheless welcome were the safe deposit box, complimentary water, hair dryer, bathrobe, and slippers.

My favorite amenity? A universal pin plug socket, which meant that I didn’t need a plug adapter to use my dual-voltage laptop or recharge the electronic batteries for my cameras. A nice plus? Complimentary shoe shine.

I paid about $60 per night in fall 2019. You can make a reservation on the hotel’s website or via one of the usual booking sites.

This series of sculptures (pictured, below) by Lim Muy Theam represents traditional Khmer umbrellas and fans. I noticed stylized umbrellas and fans on many of the bas-reliefs of Angkorian temples (the number of umbrellas being held over a character represent the level of his importance in the society).Umbrella sculptures by Lim Muy Theam, Siem Reap, Cambodia

(Photos by Susan McKee and courtesy of Lim Muy Theam)

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