The idea of a Foreign Correspondents’ Club often summons images of dashing journalists emerging from conflict zones, coming to sit around and trade stories with fellow idealists and adventurers, all in the safe haven of a bar. It conjures scenes of hard work and harder drinks.
The new Foreign Correspondents’ Club (FCC) Angkor, which reopened in August, builds on that sense of adventure from such daring and complicated times to offer a luxurious and storied holiday retreat in Siem Reap. First opening its doors in the ’90s, in what used to be the French colonial governor’s home, the old FCC featured 29 rooms and a restaurant. As with the FCC in Phnom Penh, the Siem Reap outpost became a hub for the city’s social, cultural and intellectual life.
The recent renovation and expansion transformed it into a much bigger property of 80 rooms spread across three low, sprawling buildings. The hotel now also features two saltwater pools, a gym and a spa.
Designed by Bangkok-based Dutch interior designer Malee Whitcraft, in collaboration with Phnom Penh-based firm Bloom Architecture, the FCC Angkor keeps to the spirit of architect Gary Fell’s original tropical modernist vision — strong, simple lines and an open concept — while introducing elements that reference both the location and hotel’s history, from the Khmer craft and woodwork, to the woven fabric sourced from Cambodian artisans as pillow covers, and even the vintage typewriter found in every room.
Much of the property is designed to encourage social interaction and openness: There’s the rectangular bar at Scribe, where a cocktail menu lists concoctions named after war correspondents who’d covered Cambodia; the large, airy restaurant called The Mansion, which serves Western and Khmer dishes (including a truly standout fish amok); and then there’s the porch furniture found outside the courtyard rooms — a tea table and two chairs — which make up a perfect spot for long, post-adventure conversations over a stiff drink or an Angkor beer.
Highlights Of The ‘Hood
Right next to the FCC Angkor is the Royal Residence, the Siem Reap home of King Sihamoni and his family, and the Royal Independence Gardens. The gardens are a favorite social space among locals, who gather in the early mornings for group workouts, or in the late afternoons for endless rounds of the Cambodian version of sipa (keepie uppie).
Svay Chek Organic Farm Shop
This bright, Kandal Village corner shop sells fresh fruit and vegetables trucked over from the Svay Chek Organic Farm in Angkor Thom. The daily lunchtime buffet offers a revolving menu of local and Japanese-Khmer fusion dishes, while the regular menu features healthy smoothies and toasties, along with teas and organic coffee.
The Heritage Walk
This contemporary, semi-open-air lifestyle and entertainment arcade houses several restaurants and coffee shops, retail outlets, a bookstore, and a cinema that offers welcome drinks and plush recliner seats and blankets.