Apr 26 2013
If you’re looking for a top-end place close to Phnom Penh’s riverside and are keener on views and facilities — such as a rooftop pool — more so than character, Frangipani Royal Palace Hotel may fit the bill.
This is the newest in the Khmer-owned chain of otherwise much smaller hotels in the Cambodian capital and Siem Reap, 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, and asked why he moved onto something new and 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 some 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; the promotional photos we’ve seen on the web manage to make the hotel look a little more polished and refined than it actually is. 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.
But it’s a new hotel — so it’s sparkly in a good way too. It opened a short while before former king Norodom Sihanouk’s death, and it had a prime viewing location for his cremation ceremony just outside its front doors.
The rack rates, starting at $149, are probably about what you’d expect for Phnom Penh, but we found some very good deals on Agoda — $59.50++, including free airport transfer, is a pretty sweet deal if that’s within your budget.
We’re willing to give Frangipani Royal time to see how things age and are fixed up over the next year or two. For now we can’t argue with it being in a top central location, near the 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.
If you want something with a little more character — yes, a bit more boutique — 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.
Frangipani Royal Palace Hotel
#27, Street 178, Sangkat Cheychumneas, Khan Daun Penh, Phnom Penh
T: (023) 223 320
Travelfish.org always pays its way. No exceptions.