Close to the action
8 and 169-171 Street 51 (corner with Street 130), Phnom Penh T: (023) 212 356
We loved the easy charm of the staff here, and the rooms were more than a pleasant surprise given the price and location. If you worry that you might miss something from Phnom Penh’s vibrant nightlife on Street 51, this is a good place to base yourself — do not walk this home at 03:00 though, seriously. It’s also only a two-minute walk to Central Market, placing you slap bang in the middle of the city.
The guesthouse is actually made up of two buildings virtually facing each other across Street 51. The larger one has 20 air con rooms across three floors, while the smaller fits in just 16 across four floors. The blood and salmon paint job makes them both difficult to miss, no matter how many cheap jugs of Angkor beer you may have enjoyed.
The hallways and the rooms are well-kept and reasonably clean, although some of the rooms in the smaller building have an unpleasant damp smell in the rainy season. All twin rooms in the larger building have a private balcony, though the smaller building’s balconies are pretty tiny, allowing just enough room for a smoker to hunch under the air-con unit. If you can make it up the stairs, the larger building has a small balcony ‘garden’ with interesting views across the city.
Rooms come with a small fridge, television, WiFi and air-con, plus hot water in the bathroom. The showers are standard issue and the mattresses are a bit saggy, but both do their job. Many of the rooms feature wood panelling as is so often a depressing feature of Cambodian design. In an unusual twist though some of these are stained a kind of reddy-blonde rather than the infinitely more oppressive shade of failed experiment in which you tried to make caramel in science class without burning it to the bottom of your beaker, which is more commonly a la mode.
Rooms come in single, double and twin varieties, and it’s worth checking a few, as sizes and views vary. One touch sure to be appreciated after a night in Pontoon or the Heart of Darkness is the blackout curtains, keeping that pesky sun away until you make it downstairs for a Royal D in the minimart. Unfortunately, they don’t block out the noise of motorbike horns.
Due to its central location, Happiness is surrounded by cheap eateries, travel agents and bars, and is a good roosting place for night owls. Lack of communal space means it’s not a sociable backpackers’ joint, but meet fellow guests on the stairs and you can easily hotfoot it to a drinking establishment nearby. If you really want a backpacker hangout, head for SLA Boutique Hostel or Eighty8 instead.
By Nicky Sullivan
Last updated on 11th February, 2016.