Rambutan Hotel, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Where to Stay in Phnom Penh – Best Boutique Hotels

We were just in Cambodias capital, Phnom Penh – my, how it’s changing fast – so we thought it was time to provide you with an update to our first where to stay in Phnom Penh guide of a few years ago.

Where to Stay in Phnom Penh – Best Boutique Hotels

Phnom Penh is home to some of Asia’s most affordable boutique accommodation, with many of the properties boasting brilliant swimming pools, a stylish bar and café or restaurant, and some of the most welcoming staff in Southeast Asia. All include breakfast and offer free WiFi.

These are our picks of Phnom Penh’s best boutique hotels…

La Maison D’Ambre

If style, comfort, space and convenience are high priorities when deciding where to stay in Phnom Penh, then La Maison d’Ambre ticks all boxes. No boutique hotel better represents the Cambodian capital’s increasing cosmopolitanism than this chic, central boutique hotel belonging to Cambodian-French fashion designer Romyda Keth.

Themed after Keth’s favourite films (and some of my favourites), including Hanabi, In the Mood for Love and Monsoon Wedding, the light-filled one- and two-bedroom suites are decorated with design objects and soft furnishings from her interior décor range.

Generous in size and with fancy amenities like big fridges and proper stoves (rare in Phnom Penh), they feel more like apartments – you’ll want to move in or at the very least make some friends and throw a party. The views from the wraparound windows and balconies over one of the city’s grittier old quarters, not far from the waterfront and markets, are engrossing.

The superb bistro food at the The Fifth Element, the very funky rooftop bar-restaurant, is some of the best in town (in fact, the chicken shawarma is better than any offered at the Arabic restaurants we’ve tried in Phnom Penh). The food, stunning rooftop views, and brilliant cocktails easily make up for the lack of a pool.
123 Street 110, Corner of Street 19

Book La Maison D’Ambre online with our booking partner Booking.com.

The Plantation

We reckon Cambodia’s capital might just have the highest proportion of hotels with swimming pools of any Southeast Asian capital and they’re a real treat after a day traipsing the city’s dusty streets or riding around in a tuk tuk. If a stunning pool is a high priority when it comes to where to stay in Phnom Penh, then the Plantation is for you.

Set in frangipani-filled gardens and surrounded by sun beds and shaded salas with billowing curtains, The Plantation’s pool is one of the biggest and the best. The bright, light-filled rooms have four-poster beds with mosquito nets, silk cushions and spreads in shades of citrus.

There’s a balcony overlooking the pool or terrace with garden view, along with a poolside café, spa, and a second red-tiled pool open to the public. Last stay we had a pool view room, which was wonderful, but this time we got to try the penthouse site, which was even more fabulous, with a large terrace and balcony with city views.

The hotel’s location, minutes from the Royal Palace, National Museum and waterfront, is excellent. A new restaurant opened upstairs off the courtyard bar, but unfortunately we ran out of time to try it. We’ll test it out and report back next time.
28 Street 184

Book The Plantation online with our booking partner Booking.com.

Rambutan

Expect a warm welcome and can-do attitude from the young staff at this gay-friendly boutique hotel that opened in October 2013 – because the owners poached their best people from their well-established sister-property Golden Banana Hotel and Resort (recently renamed Rambutan) in Siem Reap.

Located in a remodelled 1960s villa and sleek contemporary new building, the minimalist rooms have polished concrete floors, comfy day beds, and big pieces of contemporary art on the walls.

There’s an aquamarine swimming pool and shady concrete cabanas with cushions (pictured above), along with a poolside café serving scrummy Cambodian and Western dishes, including all-day breakfasts. Make sure you try the Khmer noodle soup.

The hotel is in the fashionable BBK1 district, which has a café on virtually every corner, some of the city’s best restaurants, and great street food options, including a few very close to the hotel.
29 Street 71, near Boulevard Mao Tse Toung

Book Rambutan online with our booking partner Booking.com.

The Sangkum

Funnily enough, we watched this hotel being built when we first moved to Cambodia in October 2012 and rented an apartment across the road to see if we preferred living in Phnom Penh to Siem Reap. I was so pleased to see the results of their months of hard work.

Set in a renovated modernist villa, the small property is atmospheric, with vintage furniture decorating the rooms and public spaces, and antique floor tiles throughout. There are old Cambodian film posters on the walls and fold-up 60s-style sun loungers by the pool. All of which gives the property a very retro vibe.

Service is warm and personal and it’s not unusual to find the Italian owner, Jean, at the reception desk or sipping a glass of wine at the bar. Join him if you do, as he’s a long-term expat with lots of insider tips to share – he also co-owns the Cambodian restaurant Sugar Palm in Phnom Penh with Cambodian-New Zealand Chef Kethana who owns Sugar Palm restaurant in Siem Reap.

Wat Phnom is not far away if you want your fortune read and Doors restaurant-bar is down the road if live jazz and swing dancing appeals.

This is where to stay in Phnom Penh if you’re a vintage lover and that appreciation of all things retro extends from architecture and interiors to music and dance.
35a Street 75

Book The Sangkum online with our booking partner Booking.com.

The Blue Lime

The location of this chic little boutique hotel, one block from the restaurants, bars and shops of Street 240, and a short stroll to the Royal Palace and waterfront, couldn’t be more central. Tucked down a gritty alley behind a high wall, it also feels rather exclusive despite its budget rates.

Filmy curtains, fresh flower arrangements, magazines scattered about, and lounge music makes the lobby feel more like a living room, while the casual bar-café is equally homey and welcoming. The shaded swimming pool is lined with sun-beds on one side and cabanas strewn with colourful cushions on the other.

The minimalist rooms have a nice feel about them, simply decorated with polished concrete, four-poster beds and vibrant cushions. Some rooms even have their own private plunge pools.
42 Street 19

Book The Blue Lime online with our booking partner Booking.com.

Villa Langka

Villa Langka was one of the first of Phnom Penh’s old villas to be converted into a boutique hotel – a big trend now – and it remains one of the best despite the proliferation of new openings in the last two years.

There’s a blue-tiled pool, lush tropical vegetation, and a tasteful tropical Cambodian theme continuing through the rooms, with lots of lime green silk, bamboo, rattan, and cane, grass matting, and Khmer handicrafts.

The poolside café is just fine, but there’s no reason to dine in with an abundance of restaurants, cafés and bars in the neighbourhood.

The Buddhist pagoda of Wat Langka is across the road, so you may be woken in the wee hours of the morning by the monks’ chanting, but their soothing hum should quickly lull you back to sleep again.
14 Street 282

Book Villa Langka online with our booking partner Booking.com.

The Kabiki

Part of the same hotel group has has The Plantation, Blue Lime and The 240, this is another of our favourite hotels, despite it being marketed as a family hotel. This means it’s not unusual to see parents strolling the fragrant gardens with their kids, pointing out names of the trees – frangipani, fig, tamarind, coconut, banana, and sugar palms – identified by small signs.

There is a poolside café and two swimming pools, including a shallow toddler’s pool, however, surprisingly, considering the focus is on families, there is no fencing for the deep pool and no lifeguard on duty.

Rooms have day beds that can be made up into single beds, some come with bunk beds, and there are cots for babies. Babysitting and family activities can also be arranged.

The Prime Minister lives next door so the street is closed to traffic and there’s plenty of security around. This is where to stay in Phnom Penh if you like the idea of being in one of the safest spots in the city.
22 Street 264

Book The Kabiki online with our booking partner Booking.com.

Circa 51

This modernist 1960s villa once belonged to Princess Bopha Devi, sister of the late Cambodian king and a celebrated classical dancer. Hidden behind high walls, the intimate hotel feels more like a B&B than a boutique hotel.

The friendly Australian owners, their Pakistani in-laws, and the warm Cambodian staff take turns taking care of reception and the casual bar-café, which just happens to serve Phnom Penh’s finest Pakistani food, cooked by the chef-owner. His Australian wife, a long-term expat, is generous with dining tips if you don’t feel like eating in. This is where to stay in Phnom Penh if you value local knowledge and warm, friendly hosts.

The spacious, high-ceilinged rooms are eclectically decorated with antique and retro-inspired furniture along with textiles and handicrafts the couple has collected over years of global travel.

There’s also an inviting pool and plenty of bars and restaurants nearby, including our favourite Mexican joint in the city, Taqueria Corona.
Corner Streets 51 & 222

Book Circa 51 online with our booking partner Booking.com.

The Teahouse

Located in a fascinating neighbourhood with an abundance of cheap eats and street food stalls, The Teahouse has rapidly become a flashpacker favourite since it opened a year ago.

Huge tins of teas line the shelves in the striking red-hued lobby-lounge of the tea-themed hotel and there are daily afternoon teas (30 varieties), along with South East Asian teas for sale in the gift store.

Unfortunately the theme doesn’t continue to the rooms – I had been hoping for a good porcelain teapot and selection of teas with my kettle, which the standard rooms didn’t even have.

Rooms range from extremely basic and snug to better equipped and super-spacious, with red accents and vibrant textiles enlivening otherwise plain spaces. Ask to see the room first.

Although the pool is small by local standards, travellers, expats, and NGO volunteers love the place. This is where to stay in Phnom Penh if your priority is meeting other people.
32 Street 242

Book The Teahouse online with our booking partner Booking.com.

When it comes to where to stay in Phnom Penh, what are your priorities? Do you have any favourites? Feel free to share tips as to where to stay in Phnom Penh – places that you have tried and tested and love.



There are 14 comments

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  1. Yafieda

    Hi Laura,

    Love the list especially when Blue Lime, Plantation and Teahouse are included. There’s also the Patio on BKK1 with a nice sky bar/restaurant, The Artist Guesthouse near the Royal Palace with a cool diner and the Willow Boutique which hosts Trivia Night once a week!

    Cheers,
    Fie

  2. Lara Dunston

    Thanks! We did try the Patio soon after it opened, but we didn’t think it was up to scratch. What did you like about it apart from the rooftop area?

    Agree that the rooftop bar/resto area is very cool and overall it’s a stylish looking hotel. But we thought the rooms were badly designed, too small, and there was poor attention to detail. The service was dreadful at the time (unusual for Cambodia) and the food was lousy. While both service and food could improve (was it good when you stayed?), they’d have a lot of work to do to replace poor quality fittings in the rooms.

    I’ve had the Willow on my list for a long time to try, but never have enough time to try them all. I’ll look up the Artist Guesthouse – don’t know that one. I’m very keen to try the two Teav hotels when we’re next in Phnom Penh. Have you stayed at those? Would be interested to hear your thoughts: http://www.teavboutiquehotel.com/

    Thanks for dropping by!

  3. Heather

    The amount of value you get here is just astounding, and those pools are the perfect respite from the punishing heat of Phnom Penh … great recommendations, I’ll have to try them when I get back to Cambodia next year!

  4. Lara Dunston

    Phnom Penh hotels are fantastic value, aren’t they? I think Cambodia must be home to some of the world’s cheapest boutique accommodation. Do try them and let us know what you think. Touch base with us before returning as we probably will have tried another dozen by then. Thanks for dropping by!

  5. Fie

    Hi Lara,

    I didn’t stay at Patio and just had dinner with friends who came to visit. This was just 2 weeks ago and I guess they up their service and food because it was not bad. The only problem was the portion which was tiny and came with an expensive price. Will take your word on the design of the hotel and see it for myself one day. I haven’t been to Teav Hotel either but it looks lovely. Will look out for other new hotels in the area.

    Cheers.
    Fie

  6. Lara Dunston

    Hi Fie – good to hear they’ve improved their food, but unless it’s an extraordinary chef with mind-blowing flavour combinations, tiny portions at high prices can’t be justified in Cambodia, can they? Yeah, the rooms just aren’t as stylish as that rooftop area – which is weird; as if they ran out of money or were cutting costs. I try to stay on top of new openings down there, but would love to hear of any you stumble across – restaurants too. Let us know if you ever come to Siem Reap too!

  7. Lara Dunston

    Thanks, Helen – much appreciated. Nice to see you here. I’ve been dreaming of a trip in one of your Airstreams for years. One day we’ll do it! Don’t ever hesitate to let us know if you ever need tips anywhere.

  8. Marti

    Thanks so much for the hotel suggestions. I think of myself as a savvy shopper when it comes to vacay accommodations, but I had a heck of a time deciding where to spend my four nights in Phnom Penh. Your blog post helped me finalize my decision. I will be spending my nights at the Blue Lime and some of my afternoons around the pool in those great-looking lounge beds. For the money, I was kinda hoping for a teeny bit more luxury (fluffy bathrobes, slippers, etc.) but ultimately, I decided that a property with fewer rooms would translate to a better travel experience. And for a sunset view with cocktail, I can always go next door to the Okay Hotel’s 16th floor poolside bar.

  9. Lara Dunston

    Hi Marti, your kind words are appreciated. The Blue Lime’s best rooms with plunge pools are comfortable. For luxury, I recommend Maison d’Ambre or Raffles. Definitely check out the bars at both; Raffles for the history, and Maison d’Ambre for the style, cocktails and views. Enjoy!

  10. Elizabeth

    Hi Lara,

    Great information! Question, is the Maison D’Ambre within walking distance of restaurants/bars etc.? My husband and I are going next month and only have 2 nights in Phnom Penh, so we wanted to stay somewhere we could maximize our time especially in the evening. Any suggestion for which is the best option?

  11. Lara Dunston

    Hi Elizabeth – there are great restaurants and bars scattered all over Phnom Penh, so it really depends where you want to dine/eat. There is actually a brilliant bar and restaurant on the hotel rooftop that I recommend. There are restaurants and bars close by on the waterfront, which, while touristy, are great for soaking up the colour and everyday life along the river, especially around sunset. From Maison d’Ambre you can walk to the river and then stroll right along the waterside promenade, Sisowath Quay. The FCC is at the opposite end of the Quay, and while not currently the most happening spot in town it’s a local institution and a favourite with tourists the first night in town for the river views and colonial vibe, especially at sunset.

    Having said that, catching tuk tuks is a breeze – they are in abundance and dirt-cheap (around $2 for a ride) – so it’s no issue taking a tuk tuk anywhere around town and most of the best bars and restaurants are no more than a 10-15 minute ride away. Do see our Phnom Penh restaurants and bars guides for ideas as to where to go. Also our ‘Weekend in Phnom Penh’ for tips on how to maximise your time. Enjoy!

  12. clare

    Hi! Lovely suggestions here, some very tempting. On arrival in Phnom Penh in December we’re booked into Arun Villa because it’s one of the few places that accommodate you travelling with a pet! They have been really friendly about us bringing our cat (relocating so she’s flying with us) and the reviews are consistently good. We were booked into Bougainvillier on the riverside but when we changed the date of our flight they were fully booked on the new date so I went back to the drawing board and found Arun Villa. I’ll feed back after our stay!


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