You may have seen the giant horse with the lamp sticking out of its head? Maybe stood to read the lyrics on the railings outside? Or perhaps even spotted the streams of dreamy murals adorning the walls.
Clatre Byrne/Phnom Penh Post
The lampshade-wearing horse statue is one of many kooky curios at Reflections Rooms.
Well, after a long wait and a little flood damage, Siem Reap’s most quirky and creative boutique art hotel/long-time-curious-building-site has finally opened its doors.
Reflections Rooms in Siem Reap is the latest offshoot of unlikely hospitality mogul Anusorn Ngernyuang, aka Nong. An artist with a penchant for recycling and a devotion to all things kitsch, Nong’s empire began with the first Reflections Rooms in Bangkok, and expanded to stores and restaurants in Thailand and Phnom Penh, along with Siem Reap’s own Beaches by Reflections bar and Reflections store.
The new hotel echoes Nong’s ethos for rehashing trash into something beautiful and taking every opportunity to celebrate the eccentric. Like its big Bangkok sister, each of the 16 rooms has been designed by a collective of Nong’s artistic pals.
Among the trippiest is that designed by SuperVerySnapShot. A teenage girl's bedroom meets a serial killer’s mind, the bright orange room is filled with jagged magazine cut-outs of celebrities and models.
Other bizarre quarters include artist Kathy McLeod’s vision of inside a cat’s mind, complete with deep-sea exploration and balloon rides. A rather beautiful addition is the design of Heng Sreylen of the Cambodian Disabled Women’s Group. Her room is a forest scene dotted with over 100 birds, an overall effect giving ode to retro story books.
Complimenting the whimsy on the walls are curios worthy of the Mad Hatter’s tea party: twisted light fixtures, throne-like chairs, that horse. If you’ve frequented Beaches down the road, you’ll be versed in Nong’s love of what many would call tack. The plastic flamingos and day-glo Jesus’s make cameos at the new hotel too.
No less than 12 months ago, this paper reported that the hotel was poised to open. Unfortunately, artistic temperament and the elements got in the way. Richard Arnold, a consultant for the opening, says aside from the infamous flood waters, it was difficult syncing up artists to add finishing touches to their rooms.
As the hotel finally unlocked the John Lennon-scribed gates over Christmas, guests were not only treated to visual delights but edible ones too. Arnold describes the cuisine as asian fusion with western snacks. “I’ve lived in Thailand for years, but the Thai dishes in Beaches are some of the best I’ve had,” he affirms.
Already a popular lunch spot for Reapers, with accompanying kids given full splash privileges in the pool, signature cocktails are also luring curious locals.
Along with the overlap of cuisines and oddities, there is a personnel crossover with Beaches too. Mao Hea has relocated as general manager and Yeang Kim manages front of house.
Arnold surmises that Reflections Rooms will attract a refined traveller. “It will be an eclectic, international art clientele,” he remarks. “People tired of sameness, looking for a stunning design and a unique experience.”
There’s no doubt that, like his Bangkok venture, Nong’s Reflection Rooms in Siem Reap will be a hit with aesthetically-minded visitors, from kitsch-loving Europeans and Asians, to hipster flashpackers who’ll appreciate the novelty and irony of the design.
And with pride of place next to Madame Beergarden, around the corner from The Square 24 and down the road from El Camino, it’s perfectly positioned in Siem Reap’s trendiest new neighbourhood.
Who needs Williamsburg when you’ve got Wat Bo?