Where to stay in Phnom Penh when it comes to the best boutique hotels is a decision that’s becoming increasingly challenging as beautiful new hotels open in the Cambodian capital all the time. The boutique hotels below are our picks of the city’s best, all tried and tested.
Updated 12 January 2019: I’m currently in Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh testing out boutique hotels, restaurants, bars, are more for a few new projects, including a first edition Cambodia guidebook. My, how Phnom Penh is changing fast.
I’ve added a few properties to our very tight selection of lodgings that we believe to be Phnom Penh’s best boutique hotels – the brand spanking new Penh House, the new-ish Jungle Addition, and the established yet under-the-radar Arunreas.
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 complimentary WiFi. These are our recommendations as to where to stay in Phnom Penh when it comes to the best boutique hotels.
Penh House and Jungle Addition
Penh House and the Jungle Addition are distinct sister lodgings with different vibes, under the same management and united by a tropical theme. You choose to where to stay when you book, but can use facilities at both properties. Two minutes’ stroll apart, Penh House is on Street 240 with a rear exit to Jungle Addition on Street 244.
The Jungle Addition, which opened last year, is an intimate hideaway set in a heritage villa with high-ceilinged rooms, four-poster beds, vintage French colonial-style tiles, and some have balconies with rattan chairs. There are lush gardens, a turquoise swimming pool, and a poolside cafe and bar.
The just-opened Penh House – and I really mean just-opened; decorators were still installing enormous potted palms and staff spot-cleaning marks left by builders when I checked out this morning – is one of the most exciting new Phnom Penh boutique hotels by one of Cambodia’s finest architectural firms, responsible for some of Siem Reap’s most stunning boutique hotels, such as Viroths and Templation.
Penh House’s contemporary design, inspired by New Khmer Architecture, features eco-friendly breezeways, greenery dripping from plant boxes, and minimalist rooms with balconies. Amenities are pared back, although the mini-bars include two bottles of wine, and the impressive entertainment system offers thousands of free on-demand movies (though you’ll need a lesson to use it).
The rooftop area has a big, gorgeous, green infinity pool, a breezy alfresco eatery and bar, and sweeping city skyline and pagoda views. A late afternoon swim followed by sunset drinks is a must. Keep in mind that they’ve just opened, so the cocktail list is short and staff still being trained.
The location is unbeatable. Walk out of the light-filled lobby, with its lofty ceilings, enormous works of photography, and striking furniture that tips a hat to Cambodian modernism, and the best of Phnom Penh is minutes away. Each time your pass reception, expect to be greeted by welcoming staff, particularly front office manager Rafy who seems to remember every guest’s name by heart.
Once outside, take a right down the narrow lane enlivened by street art (including murals of Cambodian Space Project’s Kak Channthy, who sadly passed away last year) for a handful of shopping and sipping spots. Continue down Street 204 and you’ll arrive at the Royal Palace and beyond that the lively waterfront. Take a left turn and you’ve a dozen more destinations to linger, including French bistro Open Wine, several cafes, chocolate shops, clothing boutiques, and bookstores.
Book Penh House and the Jungle Addition with our booking partner Booking.com.
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 lodgings 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-bedroom and two-bedroom suites are decorated with design objects and soft furnishings from her Ambre 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.
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.
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, 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.
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 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.
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.
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.