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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Goin' gooey-eyed in the gazebo

Goin' gooey-eyed in the gazebo

Hotel de la Paix has added more cred to its claim that it is one of the world’s most romantic hotels – it’s been declared one of the top 10 locations in which to propose, according to a list compiled by boutique hotel travel specialists Mr & Mrs Smith.

La Paix promptly points out that it is the only hotel in southeast Asia to feature in the list.

Hotel de la Paix has been wooing the romance market for some time, and six months ago began quietly testing its latest weapon of mass enchantment – a gazebo set up in the middle of a farm in the rural backblocks of Siem Reap.

According to the hotel, this is where guests can enjoy a romantic, torch-lit take on the traditional Khmer barbecue. Surrounded by rolling rice fields, cocooned by the scents of lemongrass and frangipani, a private chef serves a fresh menu of mouth-watering barbecued dishes, from prawn with crushed, fresh kampot peppercorn to quail with star anis and wild honey.

All this for the princely sum of $300 for two.

As well as the private Khmer barbecue dinner, the luxuriating couple also get a tuk tuk transfer to the gazebo, champagne on arrival, an apparently decent bottle of wine and a return trip by private car.

Having ironed out all the glitches, the hotel last week subjected the gazebo to the exacting gaze of the media with an exclusive peek-a-boo for 7Days.

The gazebo’s location in Chreav village, about 15 minutes from the centre of town, is so authentically rustic and rural, complete with a gently aromatic waft of cow manure, that it looks suspiciously like a Walt Disney film-set rendition of traditional Asian bucolic splendour in the grass.

But it’s the real deal, with a view facing west towards the setting sun that certainly adds to the romance.

The hotel’s scouts couldn’t have found a better location with this working farm: A tree-lined avenue leads to the venue and old wooden farm implements, including bullock drays that could well be museum pieces, are dotted about here and there.

And, of course, there are ducks and chickens and cows and horses, all milling around and doing seriously authentic country stuff.

It seems that with this scheme everyone is a winner, especially the owners of the little farm who are beaming. And why wouldn’t they be? They’re getting a nice, unplanned extra earn for renting their space to crazy-rich barangs who pay big bucks to come and sit in a paddock in the evening to eat.

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