Nestled in the foothills of Kep National Park, the intimate resort of Maniltoa captures the quiet charm of the quaint Cambodian coastal town

Restaurant and pool

The 18-villa resort sits snugly at the foot of Kep National Park’s gentle slopes, providing a tranquil oasis in the midst of nature. It sits a five-minute drive from the centre of the sleepy town, beachfront area and crab market, and has easy access to trails that snake through the 66.64km² national park.

I stayed in one of 18 twin- and double-bed villas that are dotted around well-manicured tropical gardens bursting with colour. Minimalist but chic in design, each comes with double or twin beds, a desk area and fridge. A separate bathroom boasts a standalone shower. Rust-coloured tiles complement white walls, wooden beams and thatched roofs. Plus, an outdoor seating area provides the perfect camp to soak up the serene scenery and sounds of jungle life.

Maniltoa is a foodie’s dream. Overlooking the swimming pool sits an open-air restaurant with vistas that sweep to the sea. Here, a mouth-watering menu sees fine French and Khmer cuisine collide. Each dish uses a blend of local ingredients, while tapping into Kep’s coastal location – so seafood features heavily. Creative culinary offerings include jackfruit burrata, Mekong lobster, fresh wild Kep prawns, and barracuda fresh from the market. Each is perfectly plated to the quality you’d expect at an upmarket Parisian restaurant, at a fraction of the price.

In fitting with the tone of Kep, Maniltoa embodies the ultimate in relaxation. A large swimming pool takes centre stage, flanked by sun loungers and parasols. It is possible to arrange for motorbike rental, and staff are on hand to organise activities in the area, including sailing, day trips to nearby Rabbit Island and excursions to world-famous Kampot pepper farms.

Cambodia is famed for its warm hospitality, and that’s exactly what you receive here, where smiles abound and staff are attentive. When we mentioned we were mulling a trip to the nearby crab market for lunch, they offered to head there themselves and then cooked up a crab salad fit for royalty.

Maniltoa is perfect for couples, friends and families seeking a short, tranquil break away from it all surrounded by nature on the Cambodian coast.

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