Secluded and lovely
Despite being within walking distance of many of Phnom Penh’s central historical highlights, the lovely Pavilion has an atmosphere of refined seclusion and offers spacious rooms priced at less than what you’d expect, given the quality of amenities and service on offer.
The hotel has something of a pieced-together quality, thanks to various neighbours being added to the collection of buildings in the property overtime, but the slightly ramshackle feel only adds to its slightly quirky character, and an overall calm of hushed pastels and charm is consistent throughout.
The reception is housed in a villa built by former king Norodom Sihanouk’s mother, Queen Kossamak, in the 1920s, with the architecture a blend of Khmer and French colonial styles, today glowing in lemon and vanilla. The “new house” was once the Royal Palace’s vet’s residence; two other buildings complete the quartet of offerings.
Thanks to the various buildings, a whole array of room types are on offer — at least 11. We booked through Agoda and paid US$54 for a double, which is the same as their website price. Several rooms sleep up to four and the deluxe suite, at the time we were looking, was the most expensive at US$120. Several rooms in the new house have private plunge pools, but we were not able to see these during our stay.
Our room was in a newer building, so while it lacked colonial charm with features like shiny tiled floors, it had tasteful touches like Buddha statues and a bathroom large enough to turn cartwheels in. It was spotless, and had a small open-air patio just outside, which though didn’t have any view to speak of, would have been quite suited for a smoker’s five-minute break.
Regardless of what type you go for, rooms are all air-con, as well as fan-cooled — a welcome touch as these can keep mossies away — mosquito nets, a day bed or couch, safety box, minibar, tea and coffee-making facilities, iPod dock and WiFi that worked throughout the property. A small spa and gym are also on-site, with massages priced fairly — $20 for a 60-minute massage.
Breakfast — a variety of cooked options, as well as juice, fruit, a basket of pastries and tea and coffee — is taken in the poolside restaurant, where excellent and well-priced lunches and dinners are also served. We tried the lok lak for lunch, with a classic lime, kampot pepper and salt dipping sauce, and it was exemplary. There was a consistent convivial hum in the restaurant and bar for the full two days of our stay; this isn’t an eating spot of last resort like so many hotel restaurants tend to be.
We advise taking up residence for a few hours by one of the two hushed pool areas. Though the area is not spacious, we prefer the old front pool, with its tiny wooden cabanas surrounded by shrubbery. The back pool is of a similar size.
All guests must be aged over 16 to stay the Pavilion. Given its small outdoor areas, this is understandable as it would only take one rambunctious child to make it rather noisy. (Though similarly, an annoying adult propping up the bar sipping red wine late into the evening might make it similarly unpleasant — nobody did this while we were there, though.)
Despite an ever more competitive market, The Pavilion remains a solid choice for those who wish for their creature comforts and need to be located centrally. Service is smooth and professional, the atmosphere refined, and the amenities top-notch. As well, the owners are strong supporters of preserving Phnom Penh’s urban history, which is fast disappearing — so stay here if you’d like to, in part at least, contribute a little towards that cause.
By Samantha Brown
Last updated on 12th February, 2016.