Big size, big views
27 Street 178, Phnom Penh T: (023) 220 420, (017) 358 392
Romantic design, efficient service, and a gorgeous rooftop bar and pool with killer views are part of the draw here, at this stylish, locally-owned hotel. Frangipani Royal Palace Hotel is very much in the classical style, with an elegant, white lobby and breezily spacious rooms, and is part of a successful chain created by a trio of local entrepreneurs, including a number of establishments in Siem Reap.
This is the latest addition to the portfolio, with the others set in older, quieter buildings.We happened to interview the architect and part-owner for another piece we were doing while visiting Phnom Penh a few years ago, just after the hotel had opened, and asked why he moved onto something new and so big after working so beautifully with smaller buildings to help preserve them. You can’t make enough money out of smaller hotels, he said.
Perhaps this 72-room hotel towering near the Royal Palace will instead. There are certainly things we like about it: the interior public spaces, such as stairwells, are open, in a bid to keep things cool naturally — one of the tenets of the New Khmer Architecture movement that emerged in the kingdom during the 1950s and 60s, and something that makes a lot of sense. And windows open in the rooms so you can catch a breeze as well.
Floors are polished wood, and rooms are tastefully decked out in a fresh, modern Cambodian style. Facilities are four-star — flat screen TVs, WiFi, room service, a concierge, several restaurants, included breakfast and so on. An effort, we were told, has been made to source as much stuff locally as possible.
The overall feel though is of a hotel that’s been thrown up a little quickly and is a little brash; it feels a little over-cooked and deliberate in places, while the essence of good design is surely its apparent effortlessness. The lobby area, for instance, felt a little low-roofed, almost car park-like, and the finishings a little rough. Workmanship isn’t the greatest.
The rack rates, starting at $140, are probably about what you’d expect for this standard in Phnom Penh, but we found some very good deals on Agoda — on one occasion, $59++, including free airport transfer, is a pretty sweet deal if that’s within your budget.
Despite the above, we can’t argue with it being in a top central location, near the Royal Palace and great riverside — and it’s got solid facilities. Even if you’re not staying here, come have a drink to enjoy that unrivalled view. Happy Hour starts at 17:00.
If you want something with a little more character we’d perhaps go somewhere like Sangkum, or less boutique but still stylish, the Plantation instead. Got to be riverside? The Quay is another good choice.
By Nicky Sullivan
Last updated on 3rd February, 2016.