Despite all the photos you’ve probably seen of Cambodia’s glimmering capital, many people find Phnom Penh hasn’t lost its feeling of exoticism and promise. From the wonderful views of the mighty Mekong river to the traditional palaces, the smells of the markets, the bikes and motorbikes and the magical humidity, this is the Asia many people long to visit. This is a capital city, so the best places to stay in Phnom Penh range from the very affordable to the rather opulent, but generally our Guru’s prefer smaller, independent hotels in the heart of the historic district, often with amazing Mekong views.
Phnom Penh was liberated from the Khmer Rouge in 1979, but it still remains one of Asia’s least developed capitals. But its few Western style malls and many markets - numerous occupying the French colonial boulevards and pedestrian promenades - are what give Phnom Penh some of its appeal. The wonderful palaces and Khmer temples also help give it its own character. And then of course there are the people.
There’s not quite enough electricity to go around here, but the tourist area, by the riverside, is fairly well catered for and littered with great bars and cafes. There are also plenty of touts, but Phnom Penh is generally pretty friendly.
Some of Phnom Penh’s unmissable sights include the Royal Palace, the National Museum of Cambodia, Wat Botum, the Wat Phnom, the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the Silver Pagoda. It’s also worth trying plenty of local cuisine, taking a cruise on the Mekong and visiting loads of markets! Be careful when you’re walking around town though, there aren’t that many traffic lights in Phnom Penh. And the road rules seem to favour larger vehicles.
Our pick of the best places to stay in Phnom Penh offer something for every taste and budget, from cheap'n'chic to top of the range luxury.
Phnom Penh (Beung Keng Kang I)
This trendy suite only accommodation offers exceptional value for money. Albeit no restaurant and pool, but there is a lovely terrace with views of the city, a bar lounge area and modern, capacious rooms with hints of Khmer art and style. Not to mention the uber cool location in the BBK1 district.
This 4-storey hotel is notable for its use of concrete and silk. The effect is modern and airy. Rooms are capacious with all the desired mod cons. Found down a quiet alley behind the National Gallery, the verdant tropical garden and luxury pool to the rear are a treat. Laze in a cabana, or head out!
This intimate little villa offers a more personal experience of Phnom Penh. Enjoy a glass of wine with the Italian owner, or laze by the pool after a long day's sightseeing. The spacious rooms are simple but tasteful, with vintage furniture, cool colours, tiled floors and poster-adorned walls.
Phnom Penh (BKK1)
The Rambutan is a newly revamped 1960s villa complete with pool, tropical garden, spa and reputable restaurant in the desirable BKK1 district. Gay-friendly, fun loving, filled with contemporary art; the vibe is good and the rooms are chic, modern, airy and simple with sleek marble floors.
Since 2010 this Swiss owned hotel has nestled in a calm oasis, bordered by a leafy tropical garden, cosy cabanas and an overflowing pool. The 19 rooms are spacious, airy and contemporary, with furniture of polished wood. The better rooms offer pool views. Sip on a poolside cocktail before dining in.
The Kabiki, a child-friendly haven, is tucked away down the same street as the Cambodian Prime Minister's house. Rooms are simple, with an abundance of white linen, wooden four-posters, and hints of lime green running through. There is a children's pool, and organised activities on offer.
Phnom Penh (Sangkat Boeung Keng Kang I)
Once again Phnom Penh produces a delightful hotel with pool, restaurant and excellent value for money. Contemporary Khmer art adorns the walls, keeping in line with the modern approach to the classic Khmer styling. Rooms are spacious and well lit with LED lights. Relax in the sweet tropical garden.
The definition of a Cambodian boutique hotel, The Pavilion can be found in an old colonial style building. Come for wooden four posters, big windows, crisp white linen and tasteful decor. Located just 100 metres from the Royal Palace, why not hop on a hotel bike and explore!
Identifiable for its class, style and comfort among the onslaught of new hotels springing up around Phnom Penh, Villa Langka stands out. Its lush pool, verdant garden, capacious rooms and stylishly minimalist interiors with touches of Cambodian features offer a great place to stay in a central spot.
This chic little hotel invites an escape from the bustling Sisowath Quay. Its sixteen minimalist rooms, all cut from the same cloth, have teak panels and floors, sleek black and white contrasts, plus frosted glass. Come for swish bathrooms, good food and a dip in the hot tub on the roof!
Phnom Penh (Daun Penh)
Chic little hotel with B&B vibes. Rooms are simple with wooden touches and retro furnishings; set in a 1960s villa. Owned and run by a Pakistani-Australian couple, whose restaurant serves Pakistani food. Come for a relax away from the hubbub, good food, a kind welcome, and a pool to die for.
This relatively new tea-themed urban bolthole exudes hints of contemporary Asian style, whilst honouring the past. Fast becoming a favourite in Daun Penh, in the alleys behind celebrated street 240. Come for the afternoon tea (choose from 30 types of tea) and rooms where red and white schemes reign.
Phnom Penh (Sangkat Chey Chumneas)
A luxurious, yet extremely affordable hotel in central Phnom Penh. The spa, pool, views, balconies, restaurant and proximity to the best attractions make this hotel hard to fault. Rooms are large and airy, with comfy beds and wooden furnishings in the classic Khmer stlye.
Phnom Penh (Daun Penh)
A converted colonial mansion house, walking distance from some of Phnom Penh's top attractions and home to a popular cafe and indulgent spa. Rooms are spacious and feature traditional furnishings, four poster beds with white linens and modern bathrooms. There is a tropical garden and pool.
Phnom Penh (Boeug Keng Kong)
In a stately part of town lies this former Governor's House. Behind its colonial exteriors are chic rooms decorated in muted palettes and black and white photographs plus modern bathrooms and espresso machines. There is a gourmet restaurant with an extensive wine collection and an alluring pool.
Phnom Penh (Sangkat Tonle Bassac)
A blissful hideaway for those seeking to put a bit more distance between them and the main hubbub. iRoHa offers a haven of peace with its lush tropical garden, overflowing pool, intimate cabanas and extensive spa therapies. Individually designed rooms range from the Colonial to the Urban.
One of the larger hotels, with one of the best pools (yet still bang in the middle of Phnom Penh), The Plantation oozes decadence and modernity, despite being housed in both Khmer style and colonial era villas. Come for elegant muslin draped wooden four-posters, views, and a top notch spa.
Phnom Penh (Sangkat Wat Phnom)
Slightly different from the rest, these 10 private suites (that come with their own kitchen and living areas, and named for films) are testament to the contemporary waves now rolling over Phnom Penh. The Fifth Element is a reputable bar & restaurant, frequented by the well heeled and trendy types.
Phnom Penh (Boeung Keng Kang I)
This unique hotel fuses traditional Khmer aesthetics with contemporary post-industrial style, materials, and balance. The 'Teav' concept is embedded in Cambodian culture; a historical title associated with great hospitality. The rooms are minimal & monochrome, with hollow chalk sketches on the wall.
Phnom Penh (Corner Street 154)
Right on the banks of the Mekong river, this chic hotel offers a trendy base while exploring Cambodia's capital. The wooden beams, dark browns and moody reds combine to give a flavour of effortless style. Head to the roof bar for a drink with a view, or jump on a hotel bike to explore Wat Ounalom.
La Rose successfully combines contemporary design with touches of French Indochina to produce real comfort - dark wooden four-posters, with matching furniture & frames. Moody reds slice through the monochrome theme in the form of pillows and throws. Total relaxation is on the cards in the fab spa.
Colonial villa conversion in the riverfront district where parquet & marble floors reign. Colour schemes are simple; browns, whites and beiges complement the wooden furniture and large windows. Come for a more intimate experience in the hustle and bustle of Phnom Penh. No pool, but good food.
Set along Sisowath Quay's waterfront, minutes from the Royal Palace, National Museum and Night Market, the hotel boasts stunning views of the Mekong. Designed in a classic Khmer style, four poster beds nestle among silk and wooden furnishings. Enjoy the pool, sauna and the great hive of activity.
Phnom Penh (Sangkat Tonle Bassac)
A more expensive option in the Cambodian capital, but well worth it. The divine salt water swimming pool, tasty restaurant, private cooking classes and complimentary massage all add to the luxurious ambiance. Inspired by French Indochina and the grandeur of Angkor Wat, the rooms are wooden chic.
Phnom Penh (Daun Penh)
Le Royal is the best by far that Phnom Penh has to offer. A grand combination of colonial architecture, with slick Art Deco interiors, this hotel speaks of a bygone age visited by the greats. Haute cuisine, lively bars and top service; come for real luxury, and prepare to pay for it!