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BLLNR reviews Shinta Mani Cambodia

This is one you are going to want to put on your bucket list.

When it comes to holidays, don't get me wrong, I would take one for 300 days of the year, but one thing I really do enjoy is a good long weekend away. It makes the week before nice and short and the week you get back you can drift through in a post-vacay haze. Having lived in Singapore for over a decade, I have done all the usual weekends to Bali and Malaysia so last year, when we were all in serious need of some holiday time, I decided it was time to tick one of my bucket list trips off my list.

The Shinta Mani Angkor has been on my wish list since I first heard about it through a friend a few years ago. A small but intimate, thoughtfully and carefully designed boutique hotel in the town centre with a strong emphasis on sustainability and charity - I couldn't wait to get there.

Location

Well, one of the great things about this hotel is the location - it's right in the quiet and quaint French Quarter and just a short tuk tuk ride to the Old Market area which is great for shopping. It's central so that you don't feel too far out of it, but its space inside gives it a sense of peace. 

Rooms and Villas

Here's the thing that you don't really realise when you arrive; there are just 39 villa-style rooms. Because the entrance to the hotel is so grand and that the hotel has a spa, swimming pool and multiple restaurants, you just assume it's bigger than it is. Hotel architect-designer Bill Bensley has magically created an eclectic and chic vibe that just exudes a calm, discreet luxury. Attention to detail is key at the Shinta Mani as the entire hotel is carefully colour-coordinated in black, white and orange tones which spreads across the concrete hallways and room bathrooms. 

When it comes to the rooms, they really are something uniquely special. There are two types of accommodation: the rooms and the villas. Within the rooms there are three room types and two suites and in the villas, there is just one style which, trust us, is more than enough.

We opted for the villa as there were four of us (two adults and two kids) and there was plenty of room. A spare bed was put into the bedroom and the sofa very comfily changed into a bed and voila - everyone was happy! The villas all come with a downstairs mini pool, sitting area, upstairs roof terrace, shower room, dressing room and even an outside bath which the kids enjoyed every day. One really special part was when I commented to our room butler how much the kids had enjoyed the lotus flowers which were placed in the bath to welcome us on the first day, he made sure that they were there each and every day and that the kids had plenty of bubble bath each night. 

When it comes to size, the villas are big. Our kids are small and get under our feet a lot but there was enough room that we weren't annoying each other, which so easily happens on holidays when we are all crammed into one room! The dressing room was a lovely addition and allowed me to store all the rubbish that comes with travelling with kids away but my favourite part was the roof terrace for an evening of room service and a couple of glasses of wine with my husband after a long day sightseeing.

Service and facilities

Well, lets talk service. I mean, you get your own butler and that kind of service just speaks for itself. Having never been to Cambodia, we were keen to spend time exploring the temples and soaking in the culture which is something that not only did our Butler arrange for us, but he also came along as a tour guide, telling us all the facts and history as we went. Given that it was super hot during our visit, he also arranged visits so that the kids didn't have to walk too much in the heat and, this is where he gets a million brownie points, even carried my little girl when she just got too hot to walk! He also arranged a school tour for us so we could meet the local school kids and helped us arrange to buy them essential pieces and took us to the floating village.

Facilities wise the Shinta Mani comes up trumps for a city hotel. It has a large pool with sun loungers and thanks to the surrounding palm trees, it's nicely covered so you don't need to worry about getting too hot. There is a top-notch spa that give sublime massages and even babysat my kids while I relaxed and two stellar restaurants - one which even serves the Cambodian special of Red Ants which my son bravely ate!

What to do while there

Well, like I just mentioned - our butler pretty much arranged everything for us but if you stay in one of the rooms, the hotel is perfectly equipped to do that for you too. After a day of touring the temples and another day in the floating village, my daughter and I just wanted to chill so our butler took the boys off to the local zipline centre which, by all reports, was great fun while we caught a tuk tuk into the French quarter to go shopping.

If cooking is your passion, the hotel can arrange a cooking lesson on-site so you can learn the secrets to making a perfect Cambodian feast. 

Now, when it comes to the Shinta Mani Hotel, it can't be mentioned without talking about the amazing work that they do for the Shinta Mani Foundation. With the tagline: Open Hearts and Open Doors, it was established in 2004 and has been a driving force for change within the Cambodian community. This non-profit organization is dedicated to uplifting individuals through a variety of initiatives encompassing education, healthcare, small business development, and environmental preservation. Their website states that: "A cornerstone of our work is the Hotel School, providing vocational training in the hospitality industry and paving the way for secure employment opportunities. Alongside this, we are deeply committed to environmental efforts, actively working to safeguard Cambodia's natural resources for generations to come. By offering interest-free small business loans, basic business education, and healthcare services, as well as leading environmental conservation activities, we strive to promote self-sustainability, economic growth, and lasting prosperity. It is our mission to ignite a ripple effect of positive change, contributing to the creation of a thriving and vibrant Cambodia." Having heard about the foundation through the years, I was really hoping to visit and see the good work of the foundation but alas, the stars were not aligned for this one so our Butler suggested I donate pencils, workbooks and clothing for the kids which I happily did. In a country as beautiful as Cambodia, it seems only right that the hotel and foundation are giving back to a country which happily gives so much to all its visitors.