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"Short stories and travel reports from my life adventures around the globe".

Travel Report: Apsara Greenland Boutique Hotel, Siem Reap.

Apsara Greenland Boutique Siem Reap Cambodia

Apsara Greenland Boutique Hotel, Siem Reap.

It’s weird to think that just a few months ago Sladja and I were in crisis. All around us people were fleeing, flights were getting cancelled and borders closing. Moreover, one of us had a cough and wasn’t feeling so great. It was all quite stressful. True to our characters, we dithered for a bit and by the time we’d finished debating our options it was too late.

Once it was clear that we were gonna be stuck in Cambodia for a while, we set about looking for a new place to bed down. This time, I figured, we should go for something extra comfortable. A spot we could feel safe and relaxed in for the long months ahead. The ideal place to hunker down, work online and keep ourselves to ourselves.

Coronavirus Cambodia.

To leave or not to leave, that was the question.

Over the course of a frenetic three days, we toured the hotels, apartments, villas and boutiques of the city. During that time we saw the good, the bad, the drunk, the ugly and one or two that had me muttering “not in a thousand years”.

In fact, we were still deliberating one afternoon as we walked though the entrance gate of Apsara Greenland Boutique Hotel. Just a few steps into their meticulous jungle garden and I had to stop and catch my breath. “Now this has potential!” 

Best hotels Siem Reap.

Apsara Greenland Boutique Hotel, Siem Reap.

We immediately fell for the charms of Apsara’s garden, with its mango trees, herb bushes and immaculate lawns. Nestled between the lush greenery, we discovered a number of tastefully designed colonial style villas.

Apsara Greenland Boutique Hotel, Siem Reap.

Where to stay Siem Reap.

Apsara Greenland Boutique Hotel.

The complex dates back to 2008 when it opened as Villa Kiara, under the ownership of a French businessman, Mr. Laurent. Today the owner is a Cambodian entrepreneur, Tan Lijing. He oversaw an ambitious redesign and rebranding project in March 2018. This is when it became Apsara Greenland.

Located ten minutes outside Siem Reap’s main drag, we were struck by how quiet it was. The perfect place, it seemed, to knuckle down for some months of hardcore blogging.

Double bedroom Apsara Greenland Boutique Siem Reap.

Our standard double at Apsara Greenland Hotel.

As soon as we saw one of their standard rooms, we knew we’d be crazy not to take advantage of their virus-enforced discounts. For that first thirty days we took a standard double. Not exactly spacious, but compact and with a pleasing mix of modern and traditional decor.

Furthermore, the bed was super comfy and there was excellent air con, reasonable wifi and housekeeping quite literally whenever we needed it. Overall, it felt like we’d hit the jackpot.

The Swimming Pool!

Apsara Greenland Boutique Siem Reap.

Apsara Greenland Boutique Hotel.

Aside from the peace and quiet, my favourite thing about Apsara was the pool. No more than five steps from our patio and a staple of our daily routine.

After breakfast, we’d take a morning swim. Following a four hour marathon behind the computer screen, it was back to the pool for a few invigorating laps. And of course, there’s nothing like a nighttime splash played out to the surround sound of chirping crickets.

Swimming pool Apsara Greenland Boutique Siem Reap.

Apsara Greenland Boutique Hotel.

“Cambodian flavours from the farm to your table”. 

Crucial to that first month of self isolation was Apsara’s onsite restaurant. After all, we just had to saunter down to the lounge area and place our order. While they do a range of dishes, Apsara’s strength definitely lies in its Khmer food, the ingredients of which come from a nearby farm.

Where to stay Siem Reap.

Apsara Greenland Boutique Hotel.

We’re particularly into their creamy red and green curries, served with salad and steamed rice. Usually we’d go for the beef or chicken, other times the veggie version.

Khmer curries Siem Reap Cambodia.

Dinner time at Apsara Greenland Hotel.

Rest assured that whatever you order, it’ll be freshly prepared and beautifully presented. In our time here we’ve tried just about everything, from their pizzas and burgers to fried rice, noodles, pancakes and fruit platters.

Menu Apsara Greenland Boutique Siem Reap.

Apsara Greenland Boutique Hotel, Siem Reap.

 

As the weeks rolled by, Sladja and I started to feel less anxious about our situation and embraced life in our little Cambodian cocoon. Eventually, we got to know the staff here really well.

Apsara Greenland Boutique Siem Reap

Mr. So is Apsara’s scrupulous, softly spoken boss. He joined as general manager in November 2018, bringing over fifteen years of hotel management experience with him. His number two, Mr. Kim, is operations manager, a fresh-faced country boy with a bachelor’s degree in tourism and hospitality.

Mr. So and Mr. Kim Apsara Greenland Boutique Siem Reap.

Mr. So (left) and Mr. Kim, Apsara Greenland Boutique Hotel.

I cannot understate how helpful these guys have been to us during our stay. Especially considering what a fussy bastard I’ve been with my demands for top notch wifi. Always striving for solutions, in the end they hooked our room up with its own private router. Now that’s service!

The Team!

Beautiful jungle hotel Siem Reap.

Apsara Greenland Boutique Hotel.

I’ve grown quite fond of the team here. Every day, when we emerge from our room for a stretch and a stroll, we see them all busying around.

Veasna might be seeking out signs of wear and tear. Sophal, when he isn’t learning Spanish or cooking in the kitchen, often clears away leaves and dead branches. Phon usually holds court at the bar, making coffee, polishing glasses and wiping down the counters. At reception, Bunnat may be sweeping or topping up the complimentary water container.

Meet the staff Apsara Greenland Boutique Siem Reap.

Top left, Veasna. Bottom left, Sophal. Top right, Phon. Bottom right, Bunnat.

According to Mr. So, most of the staff here come from poor villages in the countryside. One of the owner’s key recruitment policies is to provide training opportunities for the disadvantaged. What’s more, a percentage of Apsara’s service charges gets shared among all staff members. And a part of the profits goes to supporting local charities through donations.

Apsara Greenland Boutique Hotel, Siem Reap.

That first month at Apsara flew by in the blink of an eye. While there was absolutely no doubt we wanted to stay, the only question was whether we could justify treating ourselves to an upgrade. After a bit of negotiation with Mr. So, we finally decided to take a family suite.

Family suite Apsara Greenland Boutique Siem Reap

One of Apsara’s 4 family suites.

The family suites at Apsara have been nothing short of a dream come true for us. I have never had (and probably never will again) such an idyllic setting as a long term base. These rooms are double the size of the standard rooms and can sleep up to four people. They also have a sizeable bath and an extra air con unit.

Private pool Apsara Greenland Boutique Siem Reap.

Our private pool at Apsara Greenland.

Best of all, it comes with a private pool in the garden. A set of wooden table and chairs makes it a wonderful spot for working and meal times. Every other day, we awake to see that it’s been cleaned and the waters are crystal clear.

Jungle garden life Siem Reap Cambodia.

Apsara wildlife!

We also get a huge kick out of the varied wildlife that inhabits our garden, and indeed all around the complex. Parakeets swoop between the trees. There’s a giant snail who spends most of his days sauntering around the edge of our pool.

A lizard or two can usually be seen scampering to and fro, while there are a hundred and one frogs hopping around. On half a dozen occasions we’ve even caught a few lost in our room. Not pictured, are the two hopeless baby kittens who got stuck on top our garden fence. Alerted to their distress by frightened meowing, I was delighted to free them both without getting my hands torn to bits.

Gazebo breakfast Apsara Greenland Boutique.

Breakfast in the gazebo, overlooking the main pool.

Apsara Greenland Boutique Hotel, Siem Reap.

As I put the finishing touches to this article, I realise just how much Apsara has started to feel like home. All along we’ve felt sure that our blissful little bubble was about to burst with the arrival of the masses. But it’s never happened.

Along with Sladja and I, the only other long term residents have been a stranded Greek tourist from Cephalonia and an American writer who published a biography about Noel Neill, the first actress to play Lois Lane.

Where to stay Siem Reap.

Apsara Greenland, Boutique Hotel.

For the rest, it’s been the occasional two night stay and some regulars who pay the visitor’s fee to use the pool and grab a bite. I’m well aware that the publishing of this article is only going to attract others. From a purely selfish perspective, we hardly want to see Apsara overflowing. But at the same time, Mr. So and his team deserve nothing but the greatest success. Therefore, I can only hope that after a difficult few months, things start picking up.

Leighton Travels travel reports short stories.

Want to get in touch with Apsara Greenland? You can do so through their official website, or through their Facebook page.

For more on accommodation in the city, take a look at my guide on to Where to Stay in Siem Reap.

For a look at Siem Reap’s excellent cafe, restaurant and bar scene, check out my detailed guide on Where to Eat and Drink Siem Reap.

You can also read my exhaustive overview of What to See and Do in Siem Reap.

I’ve been living, working and traveling all over the world since 2001. So why not check out my huge library of travel reports from over 30 countries.

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20 Comments

  • chalkandcheesetravels

    Love the post as usual. Cant wait for more

    May 29, 2020 - 1:53 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Cheers! Will be returning to China posts for a brief spell shortly. But then back to Cambodia!

      May 29, 2020 - 2:06 pm Reply
      • chalkandcheesetravels

        Thats cool. Was in Macau year before last. So wanted to go to explore the rest of china

        May 29, 2020 - 2:08 pm
      • Leighton

        Yup, Macau is lovely. Spent a week there exploring. I remember seeing some familiar spots from your posts. https://leightontravels.com/macau/

        May 29, 2020 - 2:11 pm
  • Tom Ford

    I’ve been lucky enough to have had three extended stays at Apsara over the past year and will vouch for every word of this review. My favourite hotel in Cambodia and further afield. Hoping to return soon.

    May 29, 2020 - 3:00 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Cheers Tom, really glad the article resonated. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.

      May 29, 2020 - 3:02 pm Reply
  • Tom Ford

    Ps give my regards to Sophal and team.

    May 29, 2020 - 3:02 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Will do! Thanks again.

      May 29, 2020 - 3:03 pm Reply
  • Namz

    Did you know that Apsara in Hindi means a beautiful fairy?! So fairy Greenland boutique….guess it’s right! Like magical Greenland. The hotel looks so green and pretty. I’m glad you guys were able to spend a month there comfortably. Do you have any clue when you might be able to leave Cambodia?

    May 29, 2020 - 3:57 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for that nugget of info! Brilliant. We’re just coming to the end of our second month here now and have signed up for a third month. We are seriously considering a change of city from July. Either within Cambodia, or perhaps Laos if they reopen over the next four weeks. Thanks for reading and commenting!

      May 29, 2020 - 4:02 pm Reply
  • Mizou

    Thanks for sharing ! 😊

    May 29, 2020 - 5:15 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey, thanks for reading and taking the time to comment!

      May 29, 2020 - 5:27 pm Reply
      • Mizou

        No problem ! I like travelling as well and I found your blog very interesting .

        May 29, 2020 - 5:29 pm
  • nationalparkswitht

    Beautiful place to be stranded💚💚

    May 29, 2020 - 5:58 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey T, it really is. Hope things are looking up for you over there. Stay healthy and safe.

      May 30, 2020 - 9:42 am Reply
  • Team Leisure

    That place looks like heaven. Such a great outcome for you both. Good Job 👍

    May 29, 2020 - 6:28 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks. Out of all the places we could have ended up during all this madness, we really landed on our feet.

      May 29, 2020 - 6:28 pm Reply
  • Memo

    I’m running out of superlatives to use. Don’t you ever get tired of living in paradise?

    May 29, 2020 - 10:29 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Not so far! But we figure we’ll only be here for another month.

      May 29, 2020 - 10:39 pm Reply
  • Muhammad Rifki Kurniawan

    Nice post!

    August 2, 2020 - 12:50 am Reply

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