Phnom Penh has emerged from its years of deprivation with a bright smile that says ‘welcome’ with a range of new generation boutique hotels. As the capital grows in stature as one of the region’s economic powerhouses, so its range of budget to affordable, luxurious to boutique accommodation grows with it. The Khmer Rouge days are a distant memory and Phnom Penh is now geared up to welcome the cream of the travelling public. Even notoriously picky Hollywood stars such as Angelina Jolie and Matt Dillon have found read luxury in the capital’s hotels.
Adventurous parents with children and retirees spending their hard – earned money on themselves now their kids have graduated, has meant a welcome increase in tour-ists keen to explore the kingdom’s wonders in the face of the world’s financial woes. So starting from the top down, what exactly can travellers and holidaymakers expect when they leave Phnom Penh International Airport and head into the city?
The latest addition to the cityscape is the Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra over-looking the confluence of the Sap, Bassac and Mekong rivers. and is the first five star hotel to open in many years. It joins the star-encrusted likes of the Raffles hotel Le Royal, Cambodiana, NagaWorld and the Hotel InterContinental, where high-end and expense account heads rest on downy pillows. Expect to pay puwards of $100 a night in any of these properties.
A comparatively new phenomenon in the capital is the rise and rise of the business and/or boutique hotel, which is aimed at people who want the internet and flat-screen TVs as part of their mod cons. Most of them are carefully restored colonial piles located in quiet back streets such as Pavillon and Villa Langaka, or airy and modern like Le Marais,Villa Paradiso features uniquely designed “theme” rooms like a Japanese suite, the sheikh suite, Balinese Garden suite & more.
Closer to the cation but still tastefully decorated to a high level of comfort include The Quay and River 108 on Sisowath, Lebiz close by the Central Market, the Almond on Sothearos, the 60′s and 90′s Frangipanis on St 252 and 71 repectively and Anise near the Independence Monument. Many of the aforementioned hotels have pools, some have spas and workout ereas. And even if you’re not staying with them, several hotels make their pools available to outside guests wanting to escape the tropical heat-see page 61 for a election.
Moving down the price scale to the $20 to $60 a night level nets a wider choice of resting place from chains such as the Boddhi Tree’s Aram Umma ,respectively on streets 244 and 113, to guesthouses such as Bright Lotus 1, near the National Museum which has excellent rooms,some with a balcony and view of the chaos that is Sothearos during the morning and evening rush hours.Nearby, Nawin Guesthouse offers clean rooms with AC for around $20 a night.
Quayside living is a treat if you want spectacular, uninterrupted views of the Sap and Mekong rivers and ranges in price from $30 to $150 a night. The Amanjaya Pancam on the quay opposite Wat Ounalom is the start of a trip of places offering rooms with a view from the Bougainvillier to the Cara, the Paragon to California 2 with lots in between.
One of the many advantages of the capital hotels and guesthouses is the warm and friendly welcome they offer and the cornucopia of travel advice that’s on tap. Most places have their own trusted coterie of tuk-tuk and moto drivers and are happy to give you an idea of how much a journey to, say, the Killing Fields should cost and advice on other trips in and around the capital.
Most of them also carry the full range of Pocket Guide editions of Drinking and Dining and Out & About ( this one ) as well as our very popular Tourist Map.