In a town teeming with restaurants, you don’t have to venture far, or spend much money, to have a good feed in Siem Reap. But for those willing to venture a little further and spend a little more – particularly in the name of romance – both efforts will be satisfied at La Villa Lotti on the River Road.
In the quaint, informal entrance, receptionist Kuntaea tells me the guesthouse has been on the go for 10 years, although the calm garden pool is a recent addition.
Despite its long history in the area, La Villa Lotti belongs to an upstart of a neighbourhood along that part of the river. Near the River Garden, Hotel 1961 and Hanuman Alaya House, La Villa Loti adds to a growing community of boutique houses just a short tuk tuk ride from town.
The hideaway proprietors are Frenchman Didier Foliguet and his partner Jade. As Foliguet speaks only French, we were unable to communicate, but as a man who's had fingers in many pies around Siem Reap – including the Best Western Suites and Sweet Resort – he clearly knows the industry well.
The poolside hideaway restaurant serves a moreish list of food that’s a melting pot of Asian and French cuisine. Kuntaea says Foliguet, a chef by trade, often heads the kitchen, though a Thai-trained Khmer cook is on hand for the native cuisine.
The Asian mains come in at around $5, but French dishes like Côte de Boeuf (that’s posh steak and chips to the rest of us) hit the $19 mark.
But it’s the dessert menu that Kuntaea says the charming date-spot is really famed for. And as I eye up the likes of crepe suzette and banana caramelised with honey, I can see why people fall head over heels.
Should the rich French food leave you too comatose for the journey back to town, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more relaxing retreat for you and your beau to lay your heads.
Hammocks and cushions fill the decking while mosquito-netted four poster beds fill the rooms.
If you’re looking for a Khmer-style tropical haven with the romance of a Parisian bistro, simply treat your special someone to a detour out of town, and the brownie points will be yours for the taking.