On our first visit to Siem Reap for over three years, we decided to treat ourselves to something a bit different and stay at the FCC Angkor Hotel, some distance away from the relative hubbub of the Old Market and Pub Street, as well as being in a rather higher price bracket.
The FCC’s website describes it as a “boutique hotel” offering “refined luxury, casual elegance”.
I’ve never been entirely sure what really defines a boutique hotel. Perhaps it’s more easily defined in terms of what it isn’t – not a chain, not uniform, not large, not cheap. On those counts, the FCC certainly qualifies. There are other FCCs, in Phnom Penh (the earliest – it was the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, hence the name) and Rangoon, but three properties hardly constitutes a chain, and they’re each distinctive. As for the size, there are just 31 rooms and suites; and the room rate is just over £110 a night. (However, we booked through Agoda, who were offering four nights for the price of three; and the room rate does include breakfast – of which more below.)
Arriving and checking in was straightforward – helped, of course, by the fact that even at the leisurely pace of Cambodian traffic the airport is only about a quarter of an hour’s drive from the town centre. After our welcome drink – a refreshing cold herbal brew – we were shown to the room.
The first impression we had of the room was how small it seemed. The total space available is 36 square metres, which is a reasonable size; but the bed seemed to fill most of the space, and the desk most of the rest of that. And there was only one chair, which meant that I had to sit on the bed over my netbook while Kay lorded it at the desk with her laptop. (WiFi is available throughout the FCC and is free.)
However, the bathroom is quite generously sized, and seems to serve as a dressing-room too (the wardrobes are in it, including the safe). The toiletries were good quality, too, although the shampoo and shower gel came in little pottery bottles that were refilled every day, rather than the small plastic bottles you can take home to decorate your own bathroom. On the downside, the shower (which was a rain shower) was in the ceiling above the bathtub rather than a separate cubicle. One curiosity was that the bath tap didn’t have a spout. Instead the water came out of a recess in the slate-tiled wall, just above the tub – at first glance, it looked like some kind of recessed soap dish, except that it sloped away from the wall. Strange!
We ate every meal at the FCC. (This was partly dictated by the fact that Kay had injured her ankle just a few hours after our arrival and was effectively confined to a wheelchair and thus to the hotel for the length of our stay – you can read more about this on our sister site, Can Do Can Go!.) Room service is available 24 hours a day and is no more expensive than ordering food at the restaurant, which is very reasonably priced itself. The quality of the food is generally very high.
Breakfast is included in the room rate and can be eaten either in your room from 04:30 to 10:30, or in the restaurant from 07:30 to 10:30. (The early start can be explained by the fact that many tourists choose to visit the Angkor complex at dawn to watch the sun rising over the temples.) The servings are generous to say the least; we were caught out by this on our first day as we’d ordered one toasted banana bread from the Continental options (for Kay) and one poached egg “Benedict” from the hot options (for me). They brought us two servings of each! Put it this way – we didn’t bother with lunch at all during our stay. Our only gripe would be that the poached eggs were sometimes too cold when delivered to the room – a great pity, as otherwise they looked as if they would have been delicious (and they certainly were when we ate them at the restaurant).
The staff were pleasant and very helpful. This proved invaluable when Kay injured her ankle – apart from kindly offering Tiger balm to try to help ease the pain (unnecessary; we’d already sourced some ice from a nearby petrol station shop), they also managed to locate a wheelchair somewhere in the city and arranged the hire for us. And when we asked for information about the organisation they’d hired it from, they immediately produced a leaflet from the NGO concerned for us to keep.
The bar and restaurant were pleasant enough places to sit and drink or eat at, with an ornamental pool separating the bar area from the restaurant’s ground floor. (I saw the upper floor briefly – it looked like a comfortable place to eat. But of course wheelchairs can’t go up stairs, and there was no lift.) Although the bar’s billed as staying open until midnight, there didn’t seem to be anything much doing after about ten o’clock, and the staff had virtually shut the place by eleven – a bit of a downer if you’re wandering in after an evening out and fancy sitting down for a pleasant drink outside.
Overall rating: 4 out of 5
It’s not particularly cheap, but it’s a nice quiet place to stay, with friendly staff and good food. We’re very likely to go back!