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Phnom Penh’s Chic Boutique Debuts


From silk-clad hideaways to futuristic business hotels, Phnom Penh is welcoming a host of new boutique properties that are high on style and light on the wallet. By Naomi Lindt

Published on Dec 20, 2011

Phnom Penh saw its last heyday in the 1960’s, an era of captivating design and style. It’s no wonder then that this 50-year-old villa turned boutique stay is oozing with good karma. Run by Pakistani–Australian couple Majid Wazir and Yvette Height, and their friendly Labrador, Max, Circa 51 has eight stylish rooms with wooden floors, woven rattan beds and desks made of flecked sugar-palm wood. Splashes of color—tangerine-hued silk curtains, lime green cushions, baby blue–tiled baths—lend the place a cheerful feel without distracting from its original modernist architecture. Breakfast is served on a terrace overlooking the bamboo-fringed pool, with thoughtful options like homemade yogurt and local jams. 155 Street 51, Phnom Penh, Cambodia; +855 12 585 714;; doubles from US$56.

Down the block from Circa 51 in a columned, regal mansion converted from a private home, the Villa Paradiso offers travelers a quiet, refined place to stay in the city center. Each of the 15 spacious guest quarters has its own whimsical theme centered on art and travel; the Music room has a gauzy four-poster bed flanked by bedside lamps fashioned from traditional Khmer musical instruments, while the Island transports guests to the beach with a thatched roof ceiling, sky blue walls and a rope hammock (there are two real beds, too). The property’s originality is matched with five-star amenities: a small business center, a full-service spa and an open-air restaurant facing the pool. 27 Street 222, Phnom Penh, Cambodia; +855 23 213 720;; doubles from US$65.

It makes sense that Phnom Penh’s first design-driven business hotel has been a hit among young professionals since opening last year—after all, it’s run by a successful young entrepreneur himself, Cambodian Kean Kim Leang. From the blue-and-green-lit glass façade to the soaring, pillar-punctuated reception, Lebiz is futuristic in feel. The 27 rooms are unfussy and largely unadorned, but imbued with character, with bare white walls, white terrazzo floors and wood-and-concrete platform beds backed by blown-up photographs of random images such as a stack of stones or a dandelion. There’s also a spacious work desk and business-friendly touches like iPod docks and bedside adaptors that allow guests to use the 42-inch flat panel TV’s as computer monitors. Relax at Lime restaurant and bar, where signature cocktails like the Lebiz (gin, strawberry, basil, passion fruit) are mixed alongside a graffiti wall mural painted by a local artist. 79F Street 128, Phnom Penh, Cambodia; +855 23 998 608;; doubles from US$88.


THE 240
The first hotel to join Street 240’s cluster of restaurants, bars and shops, The 240 boasts one of the city’s most desirable locations and is just five minutes by foot from the Royal Palace. Hidden above a charming vegan-friendly eatery and an art gallery, the property’s 10 sunny rooms have a clean, modern, upbeat appeal: think white walls, charcoal gray tile floors and sugar-palm-wood platform beds, offset by wall murals and colorful silk throw pillows and bed runners in lime green, hot pink and azure. The four superior rooms offer terraces for a tranquil nightcap; two even have their own mini-plunge pool. Speaking of pools—though there isn’t one onsite, guests can use the pool at sister property, The Pavilion, a five-minute walk away. 83 Street 240, Phnom Penh, Cambodia; +855 23 218 450;; doubles from US$45.


The 252
The Swiss-French owner of The 252, Stephane Combre, hired Tendance Khmère, a Parisian-based home décor shop, to design the 19-room property, which sits on a quiet street near the city center. Each of the building’s four floors has its own color scheme—sky blue, plum, pale green, salmon pink—with accent walls and exquisite, handcrafted silk bedding to match. The look is contemporary chic: beds, desks, closets and daybeds are built of unfinished concrete, while rectangular, custom-made light boxes encased in organza and papier mache netting provide ambient lighting. If you can tear yourself away from the infinity pool and its private, fabric-draped salas, head to Street 278 and check out Tendance Khmère’s shop there so you can bring some of The 252’s French-Cambodian chic home. 19 Street 252, Phnom Penh, Cambodia; +855 23 998 252;; doubles from US$45.


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