Jan 01 2013
Located just to the north of Raffles Hotel Le Royal and Wat Phnom, The Sangkum is a fantastic new hotel addition to the Phnom Penh scene. The two-storey hotel, a former house renovated into a breezy 1950s/60s style, has 12 air-con rooms all individually kitted out with retro furniture, a tasteful restaurant and a small, welcoming pool; this is an operation that can genuinely call on that oft-misused title “boutique” without an eyeroll.
While the Cambodian government sadly appears to be not overly fussed about the disappearance of the unique architecture of the country’s “golden age” (which saw not just architecture, but arts and culture in general flourish) it’s great to see hoteliers embracing the era’s style in something new (though of course, saving the architecture and seeing this would be better). It’s called New Khmer Architecture, and this renovation really captures its happy essence. It emerged in the period running from 1953 through to 1970, known as Sangkum Reastr Niyum – hence the hotel’s name. (If you haven’t booked in to do a Khmer architecture tour — you must.)
Rooms come in four different flavours, all with amenities you’d expect in the price range of $50 to $150: safe, flatscreen TV, tea- and coffee-making facilities, hair dryer and so on. At the hotel’s rack rates (Agoda prices are a little cheaper), superior rooms are $50, deluxe are $60, “privilege” are $75 and a few connecting rooms go for $150 when available. Prices depend on room size, outlook and whether or not there’s a balcony; even if you don’t get a balcony though, the pool/restaurant is a lovely space to hang out in.
We love the non-deckchair-y chairs surrounding the pool; something about them suggests you’ll just be lounging for a moment, flicking through a few pages of a magazine before taking a dip or heading to the restaurant for a bite, because life, you know, it moves on and you don’t want to be sleeping when *that* happens!
While walking distance to Wat Phnom and the Post Office Square, the hotel is a short tuk tuk away from riverside and Street 240. Nearby restaurants we like include Rega next door (with simple French, Khmer and Vietnamese dishes) and old French standby, La Marmite (which now has proper chairs and air-conditioning).
If you do really need to be closer to the river but are happy to spend around this budget, we’d suggest The Plantation instead; if you need to be in the Tonle Bassac area, at this price point we’d suggest The Willow.
#35A Street 75, Phnom Penh
T: (023) 987 775; (096) 286 0106
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