Worth getting out of bed for
At Shinta Mani Club, be sure to sample the soothing spa, cool pool or try a yoga or cooking class. Bonalai Library offers a chilled out spot for reading style mags or playing board games. You can also visit the hotel's development foundation to find out more about local life, with two classrooms for hospitality workers upstairs, as well as off-site charity projects.
The team can also arrange half- or full-day tours by tuk tuk or air-conditioned car to visit the famous Angkor temple sites on the edge of town (buy a one-day pass for US$20, a two- or three-day pass for US$40 at the entrance to the Angkor Archeological Park, open 5am until 6pm). Early-birds can head out to catch the sunrise over Angkor Wat or the Bayon, with a breakfast box to go; sunset trips to Phnom Bakheng hilltop temple or Angkor Wat are also atmospheric, although you may find yourself dodging the tourist crowds. You'll need at least two days to make a good dent in the temples, and be sure to catch the carving-coated, massive Angkor Wat itself, the many-faced Bayon and surrounding Angkor Thom complex, and tree-hugged Ta Prohm. If you have more time, take a trip to the outlying delicate, pink Banteay Srei temple, about 16 kilometres north-west of Siem Reap.
Fancy a break from the temples? Then ask hotel staff to arrange a visit to the Angkor Silk Farm (+855 (0)63 5555 768), in Puok, about 16 kilometres from town. You can see the whole process from silk-worm cultivation through to textile dyeing, then snap up gifts to take home. The team can also organise guided or independent tours to outlying temple groups, local villages, Kulen Mountain, or the Tonlé Sap Lake, where you can see communities living on the water. You're also near the Angkor National Museum (www.angkornationalmuseum.com) if you're a fan of artifacts, and want to find out more about the history of Angkor.
The Old Market (Psar Chaa) is a short walk away if you fancy perusing packed stalls of local fruit, veg, fish, meat and spices, as well as jumbles of clothing and knick-knacks, and tiny food stands. For souvenir-friendly scarves, bags and Buddha figurines, make for the nearby Angkor Night Market, west off Sivatha Street, buzzing from around 6pm until midnight. Divided into several covered areas, it also plays hosts to bars, massage centres and the ever-popular, if creepy, Dr Fish foot baths, where small fish will nibble the rough skin off your feet. Artisans Angkor (+855 (0)63 963 330; www.artisansdangkor.com) is a good bet for authentic craft finds, with the chance to see artisans at work. This fair-trade Cambodian studio supports stone- and wood-carving, lacquering, silver-plating and silk-painting workshops.
For more hot shopping, walk up to the FCC Angkor complex (+855 (0)63 760 280; www.fcccambodia.com), just five minutes from the hotel on Pokambor Avenue, surrounded by tempting boutiques. Try Eric Raisina (www.ericrasina.com) for vibrant 'haute texture' scarves, fashion and textiles; Tiger Lily (www.tigerlilypnh.com) for covetable Khmer antiques, Buddha figurines and tableware; WA Gallery (+855 (0)92 746 287) and Wanderlust (www.wanderlustcambodia.com) for funky accessories, jewellery and bags; and the McDermott Gallery (www.asiaphotos.net) for moody black-and-white photos of Angkor.
Just a 10-minute stroll away across the Siem Reap River, respected Viroth's Restaurant (246 Wat Bo Street; +855 (0)12 826 346) is a must for elegant Khmer, Thai and pan-Asian fare, served on an airy garden terrace hung with red fabric screens. Classics such as Khmer sour soup, fish amok curry and mango sticky rice are a delight, although you may find yourself sharing dining space with the odd tour group.
A five-minute meander from Shinta Mani, Sugar Palm (Taphul Street; +855 (0)63 964 838) is a favourite for zesty pomelo salads and Khmer curries, served on the upstairs balcony of a traditional timber house. Share a platter of bestselling dishes, such as spring rolls, banana blossom salad, Khmer crispy noodles, fish amok and rice, or opt for the tasty mains (frogs' legs in season nod to French influence; squid with Kampot peppercorns picks up on Cambodia's coastal cuisine). The tempting cocktail list includes the Lychee Breeze, fusing vodka, cranberry and lychees. Pick of the pews are the lounging day-beds by the balcony edge, great for groups.
Set in another old wooden house, Khmer restaurant Café Indochine (44 Sivatha Street: +855 (0)12 964 533; www.cafe-indochine/asia) is also nearby, serving Asian and western fare. Choose between the air-con dining room, French colonial first-floor or lush garden.
Just a five-minute walk up Pokambor Avenue beside the Siem Reap River brings you to the colonial-chic FCC Angkor (+855 (0)63 760 280; www.fcccambodia.com), a top spot to combine a cocktail or glass of own-label sauvignon blanc on the balcony with prime people-watching. Black-and-white photos of Cambodian life deck the upper floor, with slouchy seats beckoning down by the reflection pool on the ground-floor courtyard, too, prettily illuminated at night. Happy hour kicks off daily from 5pm to 7pm, and there's a wide range of Cambodian and western food up for grabs, from fish amok to fish and chips, burgers, pizza, pasta and salads. Smith can vouch for the Passionfruit Caipiroska.
If you fancy a splurge, you're also a hop from Raffles Grand Hotel d'Angkor at 1 Vithei Charles de Gaulle (+855 (0)63 963 888; www.raffles.com/siemreap), an impressive edifice overlooking a park. Retire to the Elephant Bar for a signature Airavata cocktail, a tropical temptress blending rum, coconut, lime and other fruity liqueurs. Restaurant Le Grand is also rated for Khmer cuisine paired with fine wines.