Siem Reap Park Hyatt

Location: Siem Reap, Cambodia, around 15 minutes drive from the airport.

Location: Siem Reap, Cambodia, around 15 minutes drive from the airport.

First Impressions: What was a gateway to French Indochina as Hôtel de la Paix gets a retro re-design as Siem Reap Park Hyatt, following a 14-month renovation. The grand entrance is styled after the temples at Angkor, with towering ceilings and stone walls but a right turn takes you to the living room where the 1960s are in full swing. Bangkok-based architect Bill Bennsley's design is rich and colourful, with pink velvety couches and glitzy mirror fragments on the walls. As you start to explore the rest of the place, which is enormous, it doesn't feel like a hotel as much as the home of an eccentric billionaire. On the walls of the corridors hang black and white pictures of Angkor. Bookcases are stuffed with hardback travel and coffee-table reads. There are back passages and secret staircases. The free-form infinity pool, slightly hidden on the first floor and surrounded by greenery, is lagoon-like with Greco-Roman style columns and romantic nooks by the water's edge.

The Facts: The 108 rooms are stylish, with Cambodian wooden furnishings and Italian marble baths with rain showers and his and hers sinks. Food – a mix of Cambodian and French – is superb. While the elegant dining room, with floor-to-ceiling windows, is a fine place to eat and drink, the garden is better. Go at dusk when the giant Banyan tree and locally-made sculptures in the gallery area are lit by flaming torches. Drinks are half price at happy hour, so don't hold back on the tamarind mojitos. In the afternoon, a generous tea is served in the living room, with freshly baked scones and savoury snacks including addictive curry pastries. If clients are in the mood to work out, there's a poolside gym with spanking new equipment. Alternatively, the spa offers treatments like the Apsara massage, modelled on the delicate palm movements of traditional Cambodian dancers. It's very relaxing. Also on the menu: milk baths, coconut scrubs, and facials with caviar and pearl extracts. Lemongrass, ginger and kaffir leaves, all locally grown, are heavily used. For maximum zen, choose one of the three couple's suites. A 'Pamper at the Park' offer, which includes one treatment, is one of three packages offered – the other two being 'Culture' and 'Romance'.

A Good Base For: Seeing the temples will be top of the list for most clients, and it's a short ride from Hyatt. To avoid the crowds, send clients to Beng Melea, a remote temple in ruins that invites Indiana Jones-style exploration. For urban wandering, the hotel is in the centre of Siem Reap city, home to lively markets and quality cuisine. Try crocodile on the street or go upmarket and choose braised pork shank with star anis or Mekong river langoustine at an eatery set in a traditional wooden house. Hyatt offers a hat-tip to local city life with their fashion tour, which features a visit to the workshop of Eric Raisina, the country's most famous fashion name. Known for his haute-texture designs, Raisina uses colourful Cambodian silks and his studio makes for an unusual break from temple-hopping. 

Wow: There are 13 suites, including the presidential which spans 242 square metres and has its own private plunge pool, but it's the two rooftop options that truly stun with glorious views over the city. 

How much: From $450 per night.