12 stylish boutique hotels in Cambodia
A decade ago Cambodia was in recovery, memories of the civil war still raw.
Today entrepreneurs are setting up new businesses as fast as they can, with many choosing to go into the small hotel trade.
From converted colonial buildings to sparkling, high-tech designer pads, here are 12 boutique hotels in Cambodia that combine affordability with a large slice of style.
1. La Villa, Battambang
Quiet Battambang grows on you. La Villa, a colonial townhouse dating back to the 1930s, first fell into the hands of the Vietnamese army, then a Cambodian general and finally squatters before it was brought back to its original art deco life.
Wooden four-posters draped with muslin stand proud on antique tiled floors, the only constant within the seven very different and elegant rooms.
The bar continues the art deco theme, and the restaurant spills outside, so guests can eat inside or in the garden.
Value add: The pool is perfection.
Rooms from US$55.
N 185 Pom Romchek 5 Kom, Rattanak Srok, Battambang. Tel: +855 (53) 730 151,www.lavilla-battambang.net
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2. Four Rivers Floating Lodge, Koh Kong
Ten minutes’ boat ride from the nearest road, this mini-resort is centered on the river.
A dozen guest tents evoke glamping in Africa with their luxurious interiors and bathrooms with Hinoki tubs. There are salas to lounge in, a restaurant and a living room tent, all in bijou size and afloat on the calm Tatai River.
Dive off the resort into the fresh water or sea water (depending on the season) to go kayaking, fishing or to watch dragonflies and birds scoot overhead.
Don’t miss: The nearby natural falls and the pools they have gently worn away for centuries.
Tents from US$114.
Koh Andet Island, Tatai Village, Koh Kong Province. Tel: +855 (0) 23 21 73 74,www.ecolodges.asia
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3. Frangipani Villa Hotel, Siem Reap
It’s the pool that hits you first at this town villa, far before you get to the deluxe balcony pool rooms surrounded by loungers and frangipani trees.
Eat inside or in the garden at their restaurant, and make sure you try the specialities -- fish amok and green mango salad.
Highlight: Pedal around the area on one of the hotel’s complimentary bicycles and soak up the atmosphere of everyday Siem Reap life.
Rooms from US$30.
0603, Street Wat Bo, Siem Reap. Tel: +855 (63) 963 030, www.frangipanihotel.com
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4. Karavansara, Siem Reap
Karavansara takes a traditional Khmer home and adds a yin and yang theme with the reception, restaurant and bar all dark wood and cozy colorful textiles.
Next door, the heritage guest rooms are their polar opposite -- bright spaces of whitewashed brick, airy terraces and cool design. The rooftop pool is small but restful, especially during the day.
Staying longer? Opposite are the Karavansara Residences, huge contemporary luxurious flats overlooking the Siem Reap River.
Rooms from US$115.
25 Road, Archa Sva Road, Wat Bo Village, Salakamroeuk Commune, Siem Reap. Tel: +855 (63) 760678, www.karavansara.com
Virtoh's seven rooms, all sharing the saltwater pool, the rooftop Jacuzzi and the spa, are sleek and uncluttered. Plants make as much of a statement as the artifacts and cooling stone floors.
Don’t miss: Viroth’s Restaurant and its candle-lit, alfresco tables. It has a loyal following thanks to the chef’s Khmer dishes.
Three-night packages from US$325.
0658 Wat Bo Village, Siem Reap. Tel: +855 (63) 760 774, www.viroth-hotel.com
6. FCC, Siem Reap
Possibly the longest bathrooms in the world, complimentary breakfast in bed and a generous saltwater pool have all made the FCC in Siem Reap a household name.
Visaya Spa has its own pool, steam and sauna, plus rooms with alfresco showers.
Get sociable: The alfresco restaurant is a local hangout, home to exhibitions and events, and bordered by an eclectic selection of shops.
Rooms from US$115.
Pokambor Avenue, Siem Reap. Tel: +855 (63) 760 283, www.fcccambodia.com/angkor
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7. The Pavilion, Phnom Penh
The high ceilings of this historic colonial townhouse sit over French and Khmer architecture, antiques, art and exquisite tiled floors.
The 20 rooms are effortlessly romantic, four-posters looking out to a garden or terrace, a few with private plunge pools or a Jacuzzi. Laze poolside or stay hidden away in cabanas or little day beds within the jungle-like greenery.
Fast fact: This majestic old home once belonged to King Sihanouk’s mother. Makes you wonder what it was like living here in her day.
Rooms from US$40.
227 Street 19, Khan Daun Penh, Phnom Penh. Tel: +855 (0) 23 22 22 80, www.thepavilion.asia
8. Knai Bang Chatt, Kep
Kep, on Cambodia’s southeastern coast, epitomizes a modern-day Ta Prohm.
During the 1960s, extravagant Le Corbusier-style homes were popular among Cambodia's social elite here. But following the exodus triggered by the civil war many have been reclaimed by the jungle.
Knai Bang Chatt, on the water’s edge, is made up of three beautifully renovated, antique-filled villas housing just 11 rooms, within grounds that include a pool, restaurant and one-room spa.
There's a hushed, reverent, luxury feel while the rustic style keeps things casual.
Highlight: Eating pepper crab on the Sailing Club’s veranda as the sun sinks beneath the Gulf of Thailand’s horizon.
Rooms from US$100.
Phum Thmey, Sangkat Prey Thom, Khan Kep, Kep City. Tel: +855 (0) 12 349 742, www.knaibangchatt.com
9. Lebiz Hotel + Library, Phnom Penh
The newest boutique hotel in Phnom Penh, Lebiz is something for the Gen-Y businessman or woman. Eye-catching exterior, a lobby with a catwalk-shaped pool, library to the right, Lime restaurant to the left.
Every detail has been chosen to visually entertain, from the graphic wall designs and the choice of books within the transparent library shelves, to the uniforms of the staff.
Rooms all feature over-sized images above the bed, plenty of work space and sleek bathrooms. There’s also a meeting space and a spa.
Fast fact: The wall art in Lime is by Cambodian-Kiwi graffiti artist Peap Tarr.
Rooms from US$78.
79F Street 128, Phnom Penh. Tel: +855 (0) 23 99 86 08, www.lebizhotel.com
10. The 240, Phnom Penh
"Sex travelers not welcome," says the rather curt homepage of the 240, because Street 240 has it all. It’s home to an enticing collection of bars and restaurants, boutiques and a spa, creating a mini village that’s cosmopolitan yet quintessentially Cambodian.
Where better to stay than right in the middle at The 240, a tiny abode of just five modern rooms with splashes of color and great design details, some with their own terrace or a slither of pool shaded by a parasol.
Eat well: The restaurant and shop downstairs focus on organic dishes and foods, small lawns of wheatgrass sprouting on each table.
Rooms from US$45.
83 Street 240, Khan Daun Penh, Phnom Penh. Tel: +855 (0) 23 21 84 50, www.the240.asia>
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11. The One, Siem Reap
If you hate dealing with noisy co-guests and queues for the buffet, book at The One. It has just one room -- yours. But it makes the most of it.
Facilities include a designer bedroom, granite tub bathroom, private rooftop terrace, an iPod, iBook and mobile phone, seamless sound system, alfresco shower and Jacuzzi, personal chef and spa treatments wherever, whenever.
Value add: With the Memory Package you get a film crew documenting your holiday, ending in a DVD to take home.
Rooms from US$195.
The Passage, Old Market Area, Siem Reap. Tel: +855 (63) 965 321, www.theonehotelangkor.com
12. The 252, Phnom Penh
Going for the modern, minimal look, The 252’s 19 rooms mix cool unfinished concrete with technology like iPod docks, DVD players and free Wi-Fi, and warm furnishings by Tendance Khmere.
Each floor sports a different hue, and all the rooms overlook the front of the property and the dusky-blue lap pool.
Five lime green cabanas one side give some welcome shade for reading, snoozing and massages, while opposite the restaurant and bar offer popular Khmer or Western menus.
Don’t miss: Chatting with regular visitor Jean-Michel Filippi, anthropologist and Cambodia expert, who leads groups on fascinating tours through Phnom Penh or Khmer Rouge territory.
Rooms from US$45.
19 Street 252, Phnom Penh. Tel: +855 (0) 23 63 31 252, www.the-252.com