The dream of visiting Cambodia, and witnessing the many wonders of Siem Reap has been on my mind for as long as I can remember. I wanted my visit to be nothing short of perfect, and to really connect with it’s culture and people. During my research I came upon Sala Lodges, instantly falling in love with its unique approach to a luxury stay.
Offering an experience like no other, Sala Lodges 11 villas are authentic traditional Khmer style wooden houses on stilts. The houses were carefully selected from three different provinces: Siem Reap, Kampong Thom and Preah Vihear, a process that took over two years. They were dismantled, transported and carefully restored keeping all its original elements. I found this to be the most beautiful way to honor the Cambodian heritage while preserving the forest.
The end result is nothing short of amazing, the houses are surrounded by lush greenery, palm trees amongst many others and rice paddies. The entire ambience is perfectly though out giving it a feeling of pure harmony.
Upon our arrival we were warmly greeted by So, who explained the concept of Sala Lodges while we enjoyed a refreshing welcome drink and cold towel. From our encounter with So, we started realising and admiring the passion, hard work and enthusiasm that is behind Sala Lodges.
Every house has a number, we had number 8 for our stay. I was happy to see a big veranda where I enjoyed my afternoon coffee while reading. I was told that here is where a few changes were made to make the house comfortable and modern for their guests. A bathroom was added with a big rain shower (originally a toilet is non existent inside) a king size bed, and local artisanal touches throughout.
I was so thrilled to see that all the original elements of the house were kept, making me feel like I was transported back in time. The house is too beautiful to be described, I loved all the windows with wooden shutters and exposed beam ceiling. Having an entire house to ourselves gave us a total sense of total privacy, as if the crickets and birds were our only neighbours and there was nobody else around for miles.
The attention to details seen through the surroundings of Sala Lodges carries on to the pool area. The umbrellas are made of wicker resembling hats and the water is lightly salted.
The restaurant over looking the garden is the perfect place to enjoy a meal. Having many Khmer specialties dishes (fish amok was my favorite) as well as western options, mostly made from organic and local produce. Breakfast is made to order, farm fresh eggs cooked to our preference, homemade breads, yoghurts and fresh juice that changes daily (in Cambodia everyday of the week is represented by a color and the juice follows accordingly). Every meal we ate was absolutely delicious!
For anyone wishing for a different location for dinner or a light snack through out the day, the outdoor lounge has a long table and a great Tapas menu. Monday nights should not be missed here as the lounge transforms into the perfect chill out spot, with mood lighting and the sounds of live music. The cocktails were fabulous, my favorite is “Paradise Dream”, it’s name perfectly describes the flavour and compliments the ambience.
It seems that a genuine smile is part of the entire staff’s personality. They made us feel at home by being so attentive and caring towards us during our stay. No questions was left unanswered and we always got great advice on visiting the surrounding attractions for an equally relaxing experience as our stay at Sala Lodges.
Talking to them I became aware of the problem Cambodia is facing with plastic waste, Sala Lodges has taken ownership to reduce its plastic consumption in many ways. Partnering with Refill Not Landfill (take a moment to read the shocking impact tourists have on the environment in Cambodia alone) they now use stainless steel bottles for water that can be refilled free of charge at the hotel and many other locations across Siem Reap. We carried our bottles with pride and conveniently enough, the refill locations are printed on the bottle.
Drinking straws are made of bamboo, a beautiful and unique way to benefit the environment. They use eco-friendly packaging for take away food and all of their menus, business cards, and postcards are from banana trunk paper.
If you’d like to know more about their current and future eco-friendly projects please read here.
Perfect is what I wished for, and it is exactly the word I would use to describe my first visit to Cambodia. Thanks to Sala Lodges I was able to get a deeper insight of their traditions and discover the kindness of their people. This is an experience that I will forever treasure.
PS: Traveling to Cambodia will soon be even more accessible. From the 1st of July, Emirates Airlines will offer daily direct flights from Dubai to Phnom Penh!