An (unlikely) excellent member of the Priority Pass portfolio

When it came time to return to Bangkok after visiting Siem Reap, we were preparing for another ordinary, unremarkable experience courtesy of AirAsia. We certainly weren’t expecting something luxurious during any part of the leg, and we didn’t anticipate anything more after we learned that there is a Priority Pass lounge at the Siem Reap airport. Discovering its existence was a pleasant surprise — we figured something is better than nothing — but we didn’t get our hopes up. “How good could a contract lounge at a regional airport in the middle of a jungle really be?” we thought to ourselves. Turns out, we were in for another surprise.

From afar, the Siem Reap airport isn’t a particularly impressive building. It’s small, low to the ground, and, aside from a roof that reflects regional architectural tastes, has no other distinctive features. It just seems to be yet another nondescript airfield.

REP Terminal
The overcast skies aren’t doing the airport a lot of favors either.

The recently renovated interior makes up for any potential qualms regarding the exterior. The terminal has a neat aesthetic to it, as it clearly draws influence from contemporary airport design, but it also pays homage to the rich Cambodian heritage that Siem Reap is famed for. High ceilings feature ornate chandeliers associated with haute Southeast Asian culture, and huge windows look out on to stone carved statues similar to what you might see at and around Angkor Wat.

siem reap airport lounge check in
The Siem Reap check-in hall. It’s crowded, but an impressive space nevertheless.
siem reap airport lounge courtyard
A courtyard adjacent to the Departure Hall at Siem Reap airport

It’s hard to get lost here; after clearing security, you’ll be forced to walk through duty free. Once through, turn right, and walk to the end of the hallway. There’ll be signs directing you to the lounge, and the Plaza Premium will be on the right, across from a Bangkok Airways club. You’ll be greeted at the door by receptionists, who’ll scan you in and issue you a couple of drink passes (more on this later). Walk down another hallway, turn right, and you’ll find the main, “great” hall. Priority Pass uses this photo for advertising purposes…

plaza premium lounge
What the lounge is supposed to look like, according to Priority Pass

…and that’s pretty much what it looks like in reality! With the high ceilings, dark stone, and wood accents, it feels almost as if you are in a temple; it definitely is a sanctuary within the airport. When you first enter the space, you’ll find private loungers arranged in a honeycomb-like arrangement.

siem reap airport lounge seating area hex layout
Private seating area
siem reap airport lounge seating area private chair
The chair is comfy and it’s nice to have a desk, although neither are all that ergonomically friendly

I love the concept behind these chairs, as they are particularly useful for solo travelers and business people. They offer those who seek a quiet hideaway a place to do just that. Add in ample amounts of electrical plugs and USB jacks, plus a fast internet connection, and you have a serviceable mobile office to be productive in and/or recharge in.

siem reap airport lounge plugs everywhere
There are lots of plugs available at the Plaza Premium Lounge

Just beyond this “nest” of seats are a couple of communal tables. Thanks to the lights above and electrical outlets at every seat, it’s a nice place to get some work done. If someone was sitting in every chair though, it might start feeling cramped after a while.

siem reap airport lounge entrance view
In an odd way, the scene here gives me vibes of the New York Public Library. Is this crazy…or?

Thankfully, there are plenty of other spaces to sit too. At the end of the great hall and off to the sides are more traditional seating areas. On one end, there are tables and booths…

siem reap airport lounge seating area
Some small tables in the lounge
siem reap airport lounge dining tables
A long booth for more intimate seating options

…and there are chairs more typical of other lounges opposite the tables.

siem reap airport lounge seating area dense
The Plaza Premium Lounge looking like a more generic lounge in this section…although it’s still very comfortable.

Those arm chairs are serviceable: definitely above average, although not very supportive. Napping in one for an extended period of time probably wouldn’t be very pleasant. But the upholstery feels very soft and there are plugs next to every chair, which is convenient. I sat here for a little bit as my laptop charged and admired the view out of the floor-to-ceiling windows.

siem reap airport lounge courtyard elephant
The statue and garden just outside the window gave the lounge a strong sense of place

And, if all those seating options aren’t enough for you, there’s also an outdoor patio featuring couches, tables, and umbrellas.

siem reap airport lounge outdoor patio umbrellas
The Plaza Premium lounge patio

This is a great concept, but it’s not necessarily a place you’d want to hang out for a long period of time. It was so humid outside during my stay, and there’s nothing worse than getting all hot and sweaty and then boarding an airplane. Perhaps this is a much more attractive place to chill in advance of evening flights after temperatures have gone down a bit. Too bad there aren’t any meaningful views either, but again, something is better nothing and no one should be complaining about this feature! It is, after all, a pleasant surprise.

siem reap airport lounge outdoor patio
Another place to hang out before a flight!

When my father and I first arrived at the lounge, the staff was transitioning between serving breakfast and lunch, and as we got closer to boarding our 13:10 flight, we decided to have a small midday snack.

siem reap airport lounge food spread
The spread at the Plaza Premium lounge

Don’t let the above photo fool you; there are a lot of options at this buffet that include local Khmer and Western options. I had some freshly prepared spring rolls, and they were crunchy and flavorful without being too filling.

siem reap airport lounge food spread local
Fresh spring rolls

I hesitate to call these snacks “fine dining” — this is a Priority Pass lounge, after all — but I wouldn’t be disappointed if I were served something comparable to this in a restaurant during happy hour. The smoothies too were juiced and blended on demand using local tropical fruits. If that isn’t enough, there are a number of chefs on staff who will prepare meals something for you made-to-order.

plaza premium lounge siem reap made to order eggs
An omelette bar

I didn’t have a customized meal but another patron did. When it was done cooking, a waiter brought the dish over and it looked delicious! All of this is free — rather remarkably actually — although drinks are not.

siem reap airport lounge bar
A respectably stocked bar at the Plaza Premium lounge in Siem Reap

I should clarify: soft drinks have unlimited refills, which is good (but otherwise unremarkable), but as alluded to earlier, guests are only allowed two complimentary alcoholic beverages. I get that there’s a premium, but for a lounge that goes above and beyond in every other aspect to enhance the guest experience, this move seems cheap.

siem reap airport lounge bar options
ALSO, what kind of pour is that?!?

At least the beer tasted nice…

While eating and drinking, I noticed a nearby display board and literature rack filled with Cambodian newspapers and magazines (and duty free catalogs).

siem reap airport lounge information center
Newspapers, magazines/catalogs, and departure information

…And a few other monitors streamed CNN International, although the visual fidelity was poor and static-y. At least the volume wasn’t overwhelmingly loud.

In another area of the lounge, a number of artsy photographs featuring local landmarks adorn the wall. I admired the work prior to departing, and it was nice to reflect on what I had seen in the days prior…

siem reap airport lounge buddha art
Display in the Plaza Premium lounge

While lounge art is typically of the tacky and corporate variety, this collection was genuinely well-curated. It, along with the statues outside, gives you a sense of place in the heart of Cambodia. It’s tastefully done without being too “extra.”

I used the restroom one last time before boarding my flight, and found that it was spacious, clean, and had private, fully-enclosed stalls.

siem reap airport lounge bathroom
Restroom at the Plaza Premium lounge
siem reap airport lounge bathroom toilets
Toilets in the Plaza Premium lounge

One other thing: there’s a “Wellness Spa” as well as a shower suite…

siem reap airport lounge spa
The Wellness Spa at the Plaza Premium lounge
siem reap airport lounge bathroom shower room
A shower stall in the Plaza Premium lounge

… but unfortunately, they were both closed. It’s nice that the facilities are there in the lounge, but based on others who I’ve spoken with about the lounge, it seems that they’re frequently closed. In the event that they’re open, be prepared to pay to use them. For a massage, that’s understandable, but for a mere shower? C’monnnnnnnnn.

That’s cheap and it would’ve left a bad taste in my mouth, but the tasty food ensured I left the lounge happily.

The Plaza Premium Lounge in Siem Reap offers everything a higher flyer could want and more. There’s seldom a large crowd, and those who do pay a visit will find ample room to spread out in a space that’s remarkably well-designed. There are private loungers for those looking to rest in peace, (communal) tables for those who want to work and eat, comfortable yet “vanilla” armchairs, and even an outdoor patio for those yearning for fresh air. The food selection is ample and delicious. I have a few qualms, sure, but because everything else is executed so perfectly, it soon becomes impossible to notice shortcomings. Who’d think that one of the best Priority Pass locations is tucked away in the jungles of Cambodia, yet here we are. Kudos to the Plaza Premium Lounge in Siem Reap!

The good, the bad, the ugly of the Plaza Premium Lounge in Siem Reap

  • The GoodThe Plaza Premium in Siem Reap is among the most beautifully designed lounges in the world. You feel as if you are in a temple.
    • In addition to the visual aesthetic, there is a lot of space to move around. There are nice privacy divisions that help keep everything relatively quiet too.
    • The catering is varied AND delicious, with well-done Khmer and Western options available. The spring rolls were among the best, but the other canapes are good too.
  • The BadThere aren’t a lot of drinks available in terms of selection, and the reception desk issues tickets for alcoholic beverages. That move seems remarkably cheap.
    • The shower suite was closed, as was the spa, which sucks. Even worse is that it costs a bit to use them.
  • The UglyThe thermostat was set a little bit higher than what I would’ve liked. It was especially stuffy near the floor-to-ceiling windows.

“Southeast Asian Summer Vacation” Trip Report

Have you visited the Plaza Premium Lounge in Siem Reap? What are your thoughts?