As if Siem Reap wasn’t already an absolute haven for vegans, there’s a new luxury boutique hotel in town that ticks all the boxes for vegans and other sustainable travel lovers. Jaya House River Park is one of those special kind of places; a home from home that will inspire you and give you a sense of hope for the future. Even a short stay here will leave you feeling relaxed and after a dose of their wonderful Cambodian hospitality, it’s hard not to check out feeling like you’ve been genuinely cared for by some old friends.
Oh yes, Jaya House River Park is a truly unique and exceptional place in town.
Jaya House River Park – a beautifully designed hotel.
The design is the definition of chic, effortlessly combining strong angular shapes and a bold black and white colour scheme with pieces of traditional and modern Cambodian art. The whole feel is fresh and modern but brings in vintage elements, especially with the beautiful art, created by the Small Art School, which celebrates the musicians of Cambodia’s ‘Golden Era’ and the ever helpful and professional staff look as good as the hotel in their Eric Raisna designed uniforms.
There are beautiful folded lotus flowers everywhere throughout the hotel and guests are welcome to join the staff for an informal lesson in flower folding. Although flower folding is harder than it looks, the staff are gracious and encouraging making the whole experience thoroughly enjoyable.
The atmosphere around the hotel is breezy and relaxed with open spaces and a smiling face at every turn. Staff always seemed happy to talk, telling us about Cambodian life, history, interesting facts about the hotel and of course asking us about our day.
Pools to write home about.
Jaya House River Park has two pools, both are good places to recharge and relax but the garden located silver tiled pool really has a special kind of something for us. The sharp angles reflect the hotel building that overlooks it and the silver tiles shine perfectly in the Cambodian sun. There aren’t many better places to float in total peace in Siem Reap. Attentive staff make sure you have water, a fruit skewer or a mini poolside massage, helping to make time spent by the pool well worth it.
A home away from home.
There are only 36 rooms in this small luxury hotel and each one gives that same sense of being at home as elsewhere in the hotel. Cushions are perfectly plumped, tea and coffee making facilities go that little bit extra with a selection of loose herbal teas alongside high quality tea and coffee making equipment. The bed is other worldly comfortable. These are hotel rooms that invoke feelings of restfulness as soon as the door is opened.
No plastic bottles.
One of the outstanding features of Jaya House River Park is the commitment to sustainable tourism that runs through the hotel. Each guests receive a ‘Refil not Landfill’ water bottle that can be refilled with water at a growing number of outlets around Siem Reap and the rest of Cambodia. It’s a noble attempt to lead the way in reducing the number of plastic bottles used by tourists who visit and to subtly educate about the destructive effects that plastic waste has in Cambodia (and other developing countries).
Plus their silver plated ‘water-egg’ has to be the best looking refill point in town.
The Vegan Food:
Because the service is so fabulous at Jaya House River Park, being a vegan there is a breeze. The staff took the time to talk to us about things we might like to eat and the chef came to personally meet us to give us information and answer questions. The waiting staff really paid attention to small details like not automatically bringing milk to the table or giving us butter, these things are actually very reassuring to vegan guests.
Lavish vegan breakfasts to start the day.
The day starts with breakfast, a lavish affair combining a buffet selection and à la carte options. Vegan choices include tofu fried rice, flat rice noodles stir-fried with tofu and vegetables and a clear vegetable and tofu soup.
There is a good selection of fresh fruit juice, coconut water and even sparkling wine for those wishing to indulge. You can choose fruit from a range of seasonal and local favourites; pineapple, papaya, mango and melons to name but a few. Freshly made coffee and tea flows and there is an interesting herbal tea buffet to create your own delicious herbal brews using local and traditional ingredients.
Staff were happy to point out the freshly baked bread that was vegan (perfect with homemade jams) and there were even some traditional vegan friendly Cambodia sweet treats amongst the morning pastries.
Sunset cocktails and a delicious dinner anyone?
We also enjoyed dinner, after a few sunset cocktails in the open air rooftop bar which overlooks the Siem Reap River below. It should be noted that this has to be one of the best places to enjoy the sunset in town and should be one everyone’s agenda whilst visiting.
Delicious food served ‘family style’.
We loved that our evening meal was served ‘family style’, which is traditional in Khmer culture. It enabled us to share a selection of delicious dishes created by the chef and his team. We started with a Cambodian favourite; a pretty collection of spring rolls, mixing fresh vegetable and herb packed rice paper rolls with delicious crispy deep fried rolls. All served mingled with salad, this was a tasty and light way to start our meal.
The main courses were thoughtfully crafted, delicious and flavourful. Favourites like sweet and sour vegetables were elevated with a lightly seared slice of soft tofu and flower garnishes.
The flavours of typical Khmer cuisine were also present with a turmeric and coconut laden vegetable tofu curry. Mildly spiced but full of flavour, this was comforting and soothing to eat, the kind of food that makes you smile.
An outstanding eggplant dish steals the show.
The star of the show was a clever take on another typical Khmer dish, arriving under a smoke filled glass cloche which when lifted released a delightful smoky cloud, revealing a beautifully presented dish. One single half of marinated eggplant, cooked to perfection so it was crispy, caramelised and charred in places but tender and juicy inside. Topped with cubes of smoked soy rich tofu, this dish remains amongst the best Khmer food we’ve eaten in town.
The Vegan Essentials:
There were already vegan friendly non-feather pillows on the bed, top marks here.
The amenities were in planet friendly refillable containers, in line with the hotel’s mission to become plastic free. This meant that we aren’t sure if they are vegan so we just used our own.
We tried out the spa which offers a range of vegan friendly treatments delivered by excellent and professional therapists. The whole experience, from start to finish, was top notch and extremely relaxing. Highly recommended during your stay.
The Vegan Food Quest Verdict:
Check in to Jaya House River Park for a luxury boutique hotel stay that will leave you with many happy memories to take away with you. This is a first class hotel where excellent service and a customer focussed attitude means vegans are catered for with ease.
Make time to enjoy drinks at sunset and eat dinner in the hotel for some excellent vegan versions of refined Khmer food, with an innovative twist.
Don’t forget to book some time in the spa for extra pampering.
We were guests of Jaya House River Park but please rest assured that their generosity in hosting us didn’t influence our views.
Jaya House River Park
Telephone: +855 639 62 555
Cost From: £95 / $115 per night (March 2017)