While it might not have quite the plethora of accommodation that Siem Reap offers, Phnom Penh will not leave you out on the streets. From uber-trendy design hotels on the riverfront to hidden-jem boutique guesthouses tucked away down quiet streets, there is something for everyone in the country’s capital. The following are my top picks for where to stay in Phnom Penh.
Budget / Counting Pennies
The Mad Monkey
The Mad Monkey is an up and coming hotspot in Phnom Penh. Since the dissolution of the Boeung Kak lake district, there is no longer a Khao San Road style backpacker ghetto of Phnom Penh, meaning the Lonely Planet-toting masses are still looking for a new place to settle. My money is on the Mad Monkey.
The Mad Monkey is still a work in process, but you will quickly be charmed into forgiving any just-opened glitches. The genuinely friendly staff remembered our names after a week away, while the up-for-a-party owners took us to Oktoberfest and out to local clubs. Rooms are clean and comfortable, and the restaurant and bar are delicious, if a bit pricey. At the moment, the rooftop bar is closed due to unresolved noise issues, but don’t fret, the bar of the also popular Top Banana hostel is only moments away. And the owners of both have teamed up to offer a new Party Boat down the Tonle Sap every Sunday.
My favorite detail is the fun house feel to the staircases, which local artists are painting with colorful murals. Don’t delay in booking- when this place inevitably makes it into the next edition of Lonely Planet, it’s going to be even tougher to secure a room. Dorms $7, Rooms $14-20, 26 Street 240, BKK1 District, phnompenhhostels.com
The Alibi Guesthouse is tucked down a side street of Sothearos Boulevard in a beautiful old French villa. It is centrally located just moments away from the Royal Palace, saving you lots of tuk-tuk rides! Rooms are bright and airy, and the villa itself is very elegant.
There is a lovely garden patio area where breakfast is served in the morning and a pool table beckons in the evening. Alibi is geared more towards families and those heading to bed early, as we had trouble getting in one night when we came home late. The owner speaks French and English. $15-27, Sothearos Blvd, Alibi Guesthouse
Midrange / Treat Yourself
Featuring poured concrete furniture, a gorgeous pool and style to spare, Blue Lime is a minimalist design lover’s dream. The garden and salt water pool area, featuring salt from the nearby Kampot region, is the perfect spot to enjoy a delicious complimentary breakfast, order a cocktail from the bar, or unwind after a day exploring the city. For more watery goodness, four of the rooms have their own private plunge pool.
Rooms are sleek, modern and minimalist and despite the concrete design scheme feature plush bedding. Balconies provide another space for relaxation. The staff is not only endearing but helpful, and when they didn’t know the answer to a question they took the time to find it. Note: Blue Lime is adult only and all guests should be over 16. $40-85, 42 Street 19z, Blue Lime
Boddhi Tree Aram
Tucked down a quiet alley just a stone’s throw from the Silver Palace is Boddhi Tree Aram, a 12 room boutique hotel that defines urban oasis. Rooms are light, airy and elegant, and beds are in the running for the most comfortable in Phnom Penh. Common areas, both indoor and out, are dripping in style and invite you to while an afternoon away tucked in a corner with a good book.
The best part about staying at Boddhi Tree is that it takes it’s status as a socially responsible enterprise seriously: over 90% of staff come from charity training programs, food is organic, local, and responsibly grown, and sustainability is at the forefront with recycling programs, energy conservation and recycled materials used wherever possible. Chatting with the lovely staff is sure to be a highlight of a stay here.
There are two other properties in the Boddhi Tree family: Del Gusto and Umma, which uphold the same social principles at a more budget friendly price point.
Daily meditation and yoga classes enhance the peaceful mood here. Special touches include a delicious complimentary breakfast, fresh flowers in the room, silk robes, and complimentary use of the swimming pool and gym at the Himawari Hotel. $68-82, #70, Street 244, Boddhi Tree
The Quay takes its name from its 5 star location on the Sisowath Quay, overlooking the river that is the defining characteristic of Phnom Penh. Traditional decor is eschewed for a modern, almost space age theme. Of the hotel’s 16 rooms, standard ones don’t feature views or windows, but Panorama Suites feature sweeping views of the Tonle Sap and the Mekong Rivers. The Quay is “carbon friendly” and takes part in many green initiatives.
If you can’t afford to stay at this super stylish hotel, you can at least have dinner or a drink in one of its two restaurants, one of which is located on the rooftop. From $85/130, Sisowath Quay, The Quay Hotel
Disclaimer: I was hosted by The Mad Monkey, Alibi Guesthouse, and Boddhi Tree in exchange for reviews. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. I have also personally stayed at Blue Lime. Photos of The Quay are courtesy of their website.