Shinta Mani Angkor first opened its doors in June 2003 and was the first to introduce a Hospitality Centre to encourage underprivileged youth in Cambodia to start a career in hospitality. Over fifteen years later, ‘Open Doors, Open Hearts’ is still going strong, reflecting the hotel’s unwavering commitment to responsible tourism. But now, there’s an added level of luxury to the hotel, the Bensley Collection Shinta Mani Angkor.
The Bensley Collection Shinta Mani Angkor is a luxurious spin-off of the lauded resort, run by Bensley’s own team, featuring ten additional villas that come with a promise to be the most exquisite in Cambodia. It has created quite a buzz among the travel industry not just in Cambodia, but across the world.
Bill Bensley’s distinctive, whimsical personal style touches everything the moment you hand yourself over to the Shinta Mani. From our butler’s uniform, to the chequerboard-esque monochrome (a familiar Bensley feature) that crept into every element of our stay, to the resort’s signage (flanked by Traveller’s Palms, to us a nostalgic sign of a great hotel), to the Butler’s Lounge by the private entrance, through to our gorgeous villa. Everything has been beautifully developed to pitch and appeal to the highest level of Shinta Mani’s clientele.
But the real magic happens beyond the doors to our villa at the Bensley Collection Shinta Mani Angkor – a jaw-dropping reveal. It is a decadent duplex suite, with gorgeous, monochrome floors, long dive-right-in plunge-pool, interior courtyard, lavish, custom-designed furnishings with splashes of bright monk-robe orange and royal yellow. It’s masculine, bold, sophisticated and very ‘Instagrammable.’
The layout of the villa celebrated spending time outside; the outdoors merged seamlessly with the indoors, creating a sense of infinity and freedom throughout the space. Stairs led upstairs to a gratuitous roof-terrace and relaxation area, perfect for morning yoga, afternoon cocktails or a barbecue (so says Salas, practising his upsell).
Walking through each door is a journey in itself; from the open pool courtyard, a second set of bay doors led into air-conditioned bliss: an intimate bedroom and lounge area. More double doors showcased a hideaway garden and secret corridor that led to a sumptuous, enclosed bathroom and walk-in wardrobe; which in turn opened up to yet another outdoor space in which the centrepiece is a stone bathtub, completely open to the elements.
Throughout the villa, there’s every imaginable perk – tailored bed linen, tempting kitchenette, bluetooth speakers (including one actually in the showerhead), delightfully fragrant amenities, curated art and the very best in hand-made fixtures and fittings. We were blown away.
The top perk during our stay was out Bensley Butler: concierge, confidant, loyal friend, storyteller and sometimes historian. The Bensley Collection Shinta Mani Angkor is not short of personality in its bricks and mortar – but our butler brought it to another level.
This Basecamp review is an extract from a longer feature article, first published in print. To read the full article, click here.
|Perfect for||Fly into||Right on time|
|The Culturalist||REP||GMT +7|
|While you’re Out There|
|The main event for any Siem Reap visit is the ancient Kingdom of Angkor. Bensley butlers can arrange top-notch private guides (in any language and with special crowd-beating knowledge) to the UNESCO World Heritage site. We had the added benefit of our butler joining us on our journey, offering his own personal insight to the trip and never being far behind with a bottle of ice-cold water and jasmine-scented towel.|
Photography courtesy of Shinta Mani and by Uwern Jong