Editors' Picks

Maison Polanka

Tropical gardens, private villa, lush

River Road, Siem Reap, Cambodia

(855) 12-499-810

See Website

At a Glance

An unmarked gate behind Wat Polanka slides open to reveal a profusion of tropical leaves cossetting two Khmer wooden houses on stilts, each filled with polished wood floors, colonial Deco furniture and Khmer artifacts.

Indagare Loves

  • Home-cooked Khmer and French dishes, served by the pool
  • Stunning tropical grounds
  • The genuinely warm and helpful staff and authentic homey feeling of the place


An unmarked wooden gate behind Wat Polanka slides open to reveal a profusion of tropical leaves cossetting two authentic Khmer houses on stilts, each stylishly filled with polished wood floors, colonial Deco furniture and Khmer artifacts. Walking around, it's impossible not to pass brilliantly hued butterflies fluttering around this one-of-a-kind property, the only private villa rental in Siem Reap.

When the property is not rented in its entirety, it is also possible to reserve each of the five rooms individually. Staff are accustomed to taking care of villa groups, honeymooning couples, traveling families and even the occasional (indulgent) solo

traveler. Owner Nathalie Saphon Ridel is also the proprietor of two of Siem Reap’s classiest boutiques, Khmer Attitude and Galerie Cambodge, and her stylish touch can be seen throughout Maison Polanka.

A highlight for many guests are the meals. Family recipes, both French and Khmer, fill the menus here. The owner’s aunt runs the acclaimed Khmer restaurant in Boston, Elephant Walk, and her cookbooks guide the chef. Breakfast can be a hearty noodle soup or bountiful fruit platter and fluffy homemade breads. Lunch is a light combination of addictive rice-paper rolls and lemon grass, lime and chicken soup. The chef really shines after dark when guests typically linger over Khmer traditional classics like lok lak minced beef marinated in soy sauce with pepper and lime or stuffed duck with lotus seed, glass vermicelli and mushrooms that's steamed for seven hours over a broth made of sugar cane leaves.

Meals take place in the airy poolside pavilion, located between the four-room Maison (on stilts) and the one-bedroom Khmer House. The Maison features a twin bedded children’s room, with fantastical artwork from Battambang (a town two hours away). An outdoor deck on this upper level is perfect for yoga. Built in the 1940’s, the Khmer House boasts exposed wooden beams, vintage furniture and an expansive terrazzo bathroom with rain shower. In the open-air living room at ground level, two vintage, leather-seat bicycles beckon—a great way to explore the nearby temples. Do note that the bathrooms have showers, not tubs.

Who Should Stay

Ideal for families or groups who want the exclusivity and privacy of a villa rental, previously unavailable in Siem Reap. This retreat also works for couples seeking a restful haven away from the crowds. What staff lack in professional hotel training, they more than make up for in personalized, authentic attention.

Written by Cynthia Rosenfeld

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