To best experience Phnom Penh’s Colonial history, riverside beauty and world-class food scene, here’s where to stay. By Sarah Reid.
Phnom Penh’s hotel scene has seen rapid expansion in recent years, with a smattering of stylish new sleeps popping up beside exotic heritage boutiques.
Best for luxury: Raffles Hotel Le Royal
The grand dame of Phnom Penh’s hotel scene, Raffles was the only luxury hotel in Phnom Penh to survive the Khmer Rouge storm of the 1970s, and remains the most luxurious spot to bed down in Cambodia’s capital almost a century after first opening its doors. After a morning exploring nearby attractions such as the Central Market and the temple Wat Phnom, channel former guest Jacqueline Kennedy and hit the hotel’s famous Elephant Bar for the Femme Fatale cocktail concocted just for the former first lady, before sitting down to a Royal Khmer Feast at Restaurant Le Royal, the city’s most elegant dining room. Book now
Best for being seen: Sun & Moon
Opened early in 2016, this central, independent boutique is one of Phnom Penh’s hippest new hotels. Reclaiming the 1970s – arguably Cambodia’s darkest decade – with its bold colour palette of bright oranges and electric blues, this 80-room hotel captures the energy of Cambodia’s vibrant capital today while also evoking happier times that might have been. There’s a good gym, French-inspired gastropub and “VIP lounge”, but when the sun begins to dip behind the Mekong, it’s all about Cloud 9, Sun & Moon’s kitsch-fabulous rooftop pool bar. Book now
Best for Colonial charm: The Plantation
Phnom Penh isn’t short on heritage boutique hotels, but few compare to the lush oasis of The Plantation. Designed around a 1930s French administrative building just a block from the Royal Palace, The Plantation’s rooms have four-poster beds with mosquito nets, silk cushions in citrus hues, and a balcony overlooking the terrace or the gorgeous, palm-shaded, cabana-studded pool. Add to that a good in-house restaurant, pool bar, spa, gym, and art gallery, and post-sightseeing relaxation never looked so good.
Best for design: Aquarius
Nestled in the heart of the city, Aquarius blends modern luxury with Cambodian design – its 66 stylish, monochrome rooms (some with balconies) feature Khmer-style tiling and timber beds, while works by local artists hang on the exposed brick walls of the moody lobby. Aquarius’s crowning glory, however, is its glass-walled rooftop infinity pool and bar/Asian fusion restaurant, which offer wonderful views of the city. Don’t miss the in-house souvenir shop displaying products from the Artisans Association of Cambodia, which promotes employment opportunities for landmine survivors and other vulnerable groups. Book now
Top image: facebook.com/RafflesPP
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