Nov 20 2012
Just five minutes’ from the bustle of Independence Monument is the oasis of calm that is Hotel Nine. In best Phnom Penh boutique hotel style, owner Franco has revitalised one of the city’s villas and put it to good use reviving weary travellers.
Almost hidden behind an epic bougainvillea, the white-painted hotel does its best to enforce relaxation. There’s the sparkling pool with loungers for sun seekers, surrounded by shady monochrome seating for those of more vampiric tendencies. Balconies on the upper floors provide more places to grab a book and a drink and settle down. Then there’s Franco himself, a cheerful, funny Aussie who clearly loves his work.
The range of services is thoughtful and designed to make life easy – WiFi throughout the hotel, babysitters, a travel desk, yoga classes and spa pampering in your room. Staff all seem to be competing for a King of Customer Service crown, with no request too difficult. The complimentary buffet breakfast includes eggs as you like them and the restaurant serves a selection of tapas, pizzas, paninis and delicious coconut ice-cream all day.
The 16 rooms are cool and reasonably sized, styled in soothing cream and coffee shades. Each comes with mosquito screens at the windows, TV, safe, air-con and mini-bar. The two suites are ideal for families — sofas convert into single beds for the kids. Rooms on the ground floor are good if you don’t want to contend with the sweeping spiral staircase, but those on the upper floors are quieter due to fewer guests passing by.
It can be easy to forget the issues of the country beyond the big wooden gates, but guests are invited to make their mark by supporting the work of an anti-trafficking NGO and placing their handprint on the wall for posterity. The street outside the hotel gently eases you back into the bustle of the big city. One hundred metres down, you’ll find the small Phsar Kabko market and plenty of ordinary Cambodian life unfolding. The tourist destinations of riverside and the Royal Palace are only a short hop in a tuk tuk.
The hotel is unsurprisingly popular with Aussies and Kiwis, but attracts American and French guests, among others, as well. The services make it a good place for families, although the unfenced pool means little kids will need watching. When we visited, there were several couples staying, and a few businesspeople enjoying their temporary office by the pool.
The biggest problem with this hotel is its popularity — we suggest you book ahead if you’re set on staying here. With advertised rates of $55 for a double up to $75 for the suite, you might be able to find discounts down to $40 by booking online. If you don’t manage to secure a room, try nearby Willow Boutique Hotel the next road over on Street 21, or Monument Hotel, a five-minute walk away.
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