Cambodia’s capital was shaped by both the Khmer Empire and the French colonial era. It was founded in 1372 and has a complex history, resulting in many fascinating points of interest. First-time visitors should add the Silver Pagoda, Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, the National Museum of Cambodia (the world’s finest collection of Khmer sculpture and design), the huge art deco Central Market and the Royal Palace to their itinerary. Many visit the city as a stop-off, en-route to see Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, or while exploring Southeast Asia.
Raffles Hotel Le Royal
An institution in the city, Phnom Phen’s Raffles has been in business since 1929. Deeply elegant, it retains many restored original features, with modern conveniences like blackout curtains, soundproofing and a spa. 175 rooms also come with timeless amenities such as silk bathrobes, claw-footed tubs, ceiling fans and Raffles own toiletries. Jackie Kennedy once stayed here, a fact highlighted by the hotel in its cocktail, Femme Fatale, which was first created for her. This is served in the popular Elephant Bar, which also specialises in gin and afternoon tea. Then there’s Le Royal, the only restaurant in the city to serve the Royal Family’s Khmer recipes, Cafe Monivong, the Writers Bar and a poolside terrace for wining and dining.
Rosewood Phnom Penh
Part of the stylish epicurean Rosewood collection, this hotel is housed in the 188-meter-high Vattanac Capital Tower. At the heart of the central business district, its towering height provides views of the city and Mekong River. The property accommodates 175 guest rooms, a spa, 24-hour fitness centre, indoor pool and six restaurants and lounges. A sky bar – Sora – is a highlight of the venue, with incredible views, from its setting on a cantilevered terrace. And there’s a wide range of cuisine on offer; French comfort food, Cambodian comfort food, fine Chinese dishes, Japanese robata-yaki grill and sushi, steak and seafood. The Vattanac Capital Mall is next door, with the Riverfront Park just a short walk away.
The Balé Phnom Penh
There are just 18 suites at The Balé, a contemporary boutique low-rise complex that’s right beside the river. The zen-like grounds include a Buddha, a pink palimanan sandstone walkway, a black-bottomed infinity pond, lemongrass, spider lilies, aromatic frangipani trees and the Lee Kuan Yew plant. A true oasis, it’s a place to come and unwind. Swim with a river view in the blue-tiled 30-metre pool, or take a Khmer cooking class in-house. Private dine under the stars in your suite’s courtyard or on the deck and take public meals at Theatro, a destination restaurant.
Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra
Reminiscent of French colonial elegance, this premium hotel has 201 bedrooms. Guests here enjoy butler service, Lanvin and Hermes toiletries, access to a gym, tennis and squash court, exercise classes and a luxurious swimming pool. The sports club lounge serves healthy snacks and vitamin-packed smoothies, and there are four international restaurants, a riverside bar, a cigar lounge, a Champagne Boutique and a library-style Club Lounge. An excellent choice for those with children, the Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra’s junior family suites come with a separate child’s bed, a pre-setup tent, logbook and stuffed toys.