“A coolly stylish but surprisingly cosy cocoon on the riverfront in Phnom Penh”
This tightly run ship is all about first-class service and carefully thought-out facilities, with just 16 rooms. On top, the hotel is big on environmental awareness, with low-impact or recyclable materials and the use of halogen and strip lighting instead of incandescent bulbs, for a better, brighter, cooler future.
- Adorable, impeccably trained staff
- Smart but surprisingly comfortable minimalist design, with meticulous attention to detail
- Panoramic river views from the suite balconies
- A stylish rooftop bar and good restaurant downstairs
- A carbon neutral hotel - offsets its own output and calculates guests' carbon footprint then suggests local schemes they can follow to offset
- All the mod cons money can buy, from DVD player to large Samsung LCD TV, with WiFi access in all rooms
- The hotel has changed hands since our last visit and we're yet to experience a stay under the new owners, though guest feedback is good
- Standard rooms are small and have no proper windows (just frosted glass panels); go for a suite
- Laminated surfaces aren't the most practical choice in the tropics, and already there is evidence of wear and tear
- The design is slick but rather characterless: you could be anywhere in the world, probably on MTV
- Sisowath Quay is busy and bustling, seemingly 24 hours a day - bring earplugs
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Boutique Hotel
- All ages welcome
- Open all year
- Plunge Pool
- Spa Treatments
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
There are 8 rooms and 8 suites, all fashioned from the same style bible. Each is a long single design unit with warm teak-effect panelling and floors alternating with pristine white walls, jet-black laminate, creamy vinyl and frosted glass. Most serviced apartments in Bangkok and Singapore aspire to look like this, though not all manage.
The 8 Standard Rooms have only a frosted glass panel to let light in; they lack windows to the exterior and don't have balconies. The 8 Panoramic Suites are magnificent; definitely worth the extra money. Their balconies are small clean decks with chairs and a table (but, being picky, the waist-high balustrade blocks the view when you’re sitting down, and you can't control the ambient illumination at night).
Inside, Arne Jacobson Swan chairs provide comfort, facing the large LCD TV and thunderous Bose speaker on its marble wall-mounted sideboard. A swirly-wallpaper painting breaks up the spare wall behind. The Minotto bed invites you to lounge in the daytime too with a hairy throw and matching cushions.
Where the kitchenette would be in a condo is a raised, tiled platform, a spacious desk overlooking your realm, with a minibar and coffee- and tea-making facilities on either side of you. The impression of a command post is heightened by a bendy reading lamp that looks like a microphone. You are also given a game of solitaire, the meatspace variety with metal balls.
The large bathroom wouldn’t be out of place in a swish nightclub. It has a small but deep bathtub and big shower cubicle, all arranged around a kind of central console with sink, behind which the loo modestly peeks out (with a water-gun, thank heavens). Walls are of dark green natural stone, interspersed with floor-to-ceiling mirrors. Interesting black soap matches the décor, at a guess made with tamarind.
- Air conditioning
- CD player
- Coffee / tea making
- Cots Available
- DVD player
- Extra beds
- Internet access
- Plunge pool
- Safe box
Breakfast is a generous choice of breads or cereal, followed by warm dishes, Asian or Western. The croissant with lemon curd was passable and eggs Benedict were excellent. A small English fry-up was also flawless. There’s fresh juice and tea or coffee.
For lunch and dinner, Chow, the in-house restaurant, serves impeccable modern Asian cuisine; the emphasis on the interplay of fresh ingredients and stylish presentation. Marinated duck salad with Asian vegetables was deliciously crunchy and came in dainty piles on a plate inspired by a prehistoric narwhal boat or some such. It was followed by juicy, deeply flavoured sirloin steak on a bed of onion and potato noodles, with young peppercorns and a little mound of chopped onion on top. Other dishes include Thai-inspired curries and soup. Desserts are of the soy-milk/coconut/pandanus variety that it takes a born Asian to appreciate.
For lunch, there's a set menu of crunchy starters and noodle-based mains, with a drink.
The décor in the restaurant is minimalist: large white chairs set around small round tables with a feature wall down one side, opposite the long bar. Due to the manmade surfaces and the indirect fluorescent lighting, some liken it to eating in an expensive fridge, one with a penetrating smell of lemongrass, to boot. Best to sit at one of two tables in the street, or ask them to serve your food under the stars at the buzzy rooftop bar.
For alternatives, simply wander along the riverfront and see what takes your fancy, or take a motorbike to Comme à la Maison, at 13 Street 57, for a classic French dinner.
- Coffee / tea making
- Restaurants nearby
- Room service
- Vegetarian menu
- Explore the sights of historic Phnom Penh. The National Museum with its Angkor-era treasures is a short walk away, and the Royal Palace (just) visible from your room. The Central Market with its billion cheap knockoff goods is also not far. A million tuk-tuk and motorcycle drivers are eager to take you to the Killing Fields and the Tuol Sleng prison museum, with their solemn memories of the Khmer Rouge atrocities. The hotel can arrange guided tours
- Wander around the old town, peer at the tenements and crumbling colonial mansions, watch fish die in the markets, or have a leisurely drink by the riverfront in any one of 100 restaurants and cafés
- Pay your respects at S-21, also known as Tuol Sleng. This erstwhile high school has a bloody past as the prison where the Khmer Rouge tortured many of its inmates before sending those who survived to their death in the Killing Fields. It’s not a happy place, but it is an important one, and it survives pretty much as it was 30 years ago
- Take a tuk-tuk to the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek. Just 14km southwest of the town, this was the final resting place of S-21’s prisoners. 17,000 people died here and you'll see mass graves plus a memorial tower filled with skulls. It's a shocking reminder of Pol-Pot's regime and well worth going to
- Shop for things you should, like ‘ethically’ produced fabrics and Angkor sandstone reproductions, from nearby shops like Sentosa Silk or the National Museum
- Shop for things you shouldn’t, from Valium and Viagra to the stolen intellectual property of starving artists like Phil Collins or Jerry Bruckheimer
- Meet people you should, like the clean-limbed independent travellers who throng the bars and restaurants along the river and beyond. This part of town goes to bed quite early
- Meet people you shouldn’t. For nightlife, the legendary Martini has moved to a distant part of town (about $2 on a motorbike), but in the murk under the sprawling trees unmentionable unions are still being formed, pool is being played with a vengeance, and ghostly blockbusters play on the dark projection screen. Gangsters still haunt Heart of Darkness ($1 on a motorbike), so by all means dance the night away to the ear-splitting R&B pop, but do move over if a local gentleman lodges a claim to your chair
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Historical sites
- Museums / galleries
- Private guided tours
- Shopping / markets
- Traditional cultures
Children are welcome, but in truth this is not really a great place for kids as there are no special facilities and it is set up for adults. However, cots, babysitting and extra beds are available on request. Kids 4-11 stay for free in existing bedding and are charged at 50% for meals; 12+ in extra beds are charged extra.
Family friendly accommodation:
Cots Available, Extra Beds Available
Babysitting available by arrangement
Baby cots available on request
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking