The pool at The Plantation hotel, Phnom Penh, Cambodia Relax and reflect … the pool at The Plantation hotel The Plantation Phnom Penh may just have the highest proportion of places to stay with swimming pools of any Asian capital, and they are a treat after a day amid the dusty streets or riding around in an open-sided remork (Cambodia’s tuk tuk). Set in frangipani-filled gardens and surrounded by sunbeds and shaded salas with billowing curtains, The Plantation’s pool is one of the biggest (20 metres) and the best. The bright rooms have four-poster beds with mosquito nets, silk cushions and spreads in citrus shades, and a balcony overlooking the pool or the terrace. There’s a poolside cafe, spa, and a second pool – a 12-metre one, known as the red pool – open to the public. The location, minutes from the Royal Palace, National Museum and waterfront, is brilliant. • +855 23 215 151, theplantation.asia. Doubles from £51 B&B La Maison D’Ambre La Maison D’Ambre No boutique hotel better represents Phnom Penh’s increasing cosmopolitanism than Cambodian-French fashion designer Romyda Keth’s chic suites. Themed around her favourite films – such as Hana-Bi, In the Mood for Love and Monsoon Wedding – the light-filled one- and two-bedroom suites are decorated with design statements and soft furnishings from Keth’s interior decor range. Generous in size and with fancy amenities such as big fridges and proper stoves (rare in Phnom Penh), they are more like apartments. Overlooking the city’s grittier old quarters – not far from the waterfront and markets – The Fifth Element rooftop bar-restaurant serves some of the best bistro food in town. • +855 23 222 780, lamaisondambre.com. Doubles from £72 B&B Rambutan Rambutan Expect a warm welcome and a can-do attitude from the young staff at this gay-friendly boutique hotel, which opened in October 2013. The owners poached the best people from their sister-property, Golden Banana Hotel and Resort in Siem Reap. In a remodelled 1960s villa – and a sleek contemporary new building – the minimalist rooms have polished concrete floors, comfy day beds, and big pieces of contemporary art on the walls. There is an aquamarine swimming pool, shady concrete cabanas with cushions, and a poolside cafe serving Cambodian and western dishes, including all-day breakfasts – the Khmer noodle soup is highly recommended. The hotel is in the fashionable BBK1 district, which has a cafe on virtually every corner, some of the city’s best restaurants and good street food options. • +855 23 993 400, rambutanresort.com/phnompenh. Doubles from £30 B&B The Sangkum Room at The Sangkum, Phnom Penh Service is warm and personal at this lovely one-year-old boutique hotel, where you might find the Italian owner at the reception desk or sipping a glass of wine at the bar. Join him if you do, as he is a long-term expat with insider tips to share. He also co-owns Cambodian restaurant Sugar Palm with Cambodian-New Zealand chef Kethana Dunnet. Set in a renovated modernist villa, the small property is atmospheric, with vintage furniture, antique floor tiles, old Cambodian film posters, and fold-up 60s-style sun-loungers by the pool giving a retro vibe. Wat Phnom is not far away if you want your fortune read and Doors restaurant-bar is down the road if you want live jazz or swing dancing. • +855 23 987 775, sangkum.com. Superior rooms from £30 B&B Villa Langka Room at Villa Langka One of the first of Phnom Penh’s old villas to be converted into a boutique hotel, Villa Langka remains one of the best despite the recent proliferation of new openings. There’s a blue-tiled pool, lush tropical vegetation, and a tasteful tropical Cambodian theme continuing through the rooms, with lots of lime green silk, bamboo and cane, grass matting, and local handicrafts. The poolside cafe is good, but there’s also an abundance of restaurants, cafes and bars in the neighbourhood. The Buddhist pagoda of Wat Langka is across the road, so you may be woken early in the morning by monks chanting, but it should quickly lull you back to sleep. • +855 23 726 771, villalangka.com. Doubles from £36 B&B The Kabiki The Kabiki It’s not unusual to see parents strolling the fragrant gardens of this family-focused hotel with their kids, pointing out names of the trees – frangipani, fig, tamarind, coconut, banana, and sugar palms – identified with small signs. There is a poolside cafe and two swimming pools, including a shallow toddlers’ pool; however, there is no fencing for the deep one and no lifeguard on duty. Rooms have day beds that can be made up into single beds, some come with bunk beds, and there are cots for babies. Babysitting and family activities can also be arranged. The prime minister lives next door, so the street is closed to traffic and there is plenty of security around, making it one of the safest spots in the city. • +855 23 222 290, thekabiki.com. Standard rooms from £36, family room (double bed, two bunk beds, single bed) from £42 B&B Circa 51 Circa 51 Behind high walls in a modernist 1960s villa that once belonged to Princess Bopha Devi (half-sister of present Cambodian king and a celebrated classical dancer), this intimate hotel feels more B&B than boutique. The friendly Australian-Pakistani owners, the Pakistani in-laws, and warm Cambodian staff take turns looking after the reception area and the casual bar-cafe, which just happens to serve Phnom Penh’s finest Pakistani food, cooked by the chef-owner. His Australian wife has plenty of dining tips if you don’t feel like eating-in. The spacious, high-ceilinged rooms are decorated with antique and retro-inspired furniture, along with textiles and handicrafts the couple has collected over years of global travel. There is an inviting pool and plenty of bars and restaurants nearby. • +855 12 585 714, circa51.com. Doubles from £38 B&B The Teahouse The Teahouse In a fascinating neighbourhood with an abundance of cheap eats and street-food stalls, The Teahouse has rapidly become a flashpacker favourite. This boutique hotel is tea-themed: there are big tins it lining the shelves in the striking red-hued lobby-lounge, daily afternoon teas (30 varieties), and teas from south-east Asia for sale in the gift store. The theme doesn’t continue to the rooms, however – I had been hoping for a good porcelain teapot and selection of fine teas with my kettle (which the standard rooms didn’t have). Rooms range from basic and snug to better-equipped and super-spacious, with more red accents and vibrant textiles enlivening otherwise plain spaces. Although the pool is small by Phnom Penh standards, visitors just love this place. • +855 23 212 789, theteahouse.asia. Doubles from £30 B&B The Blue Lime The Blue Lime Down an alley behind a high wall, this chic boutique hotel feels exclusive despite its budget rates. Colourful filmy curtains, fresh flower arrangements, magazines scattered about, and lounge music in the lobby make it feel more like a living room, while the casual bar-cafe is equally homey and welcoming. The shaded swimming pool is lined with sunbeds on one side and cabanas strewn with cushions on the other, while some rooms have their own private plunge pools. The minimalist rooms have a nice feel about them, simply decorated with polished concrete, four-poster beds and bold, coloured cushions. The location, one block from the restaurants, bars and shops of Street 240, and a short stroll to the Royal Palace and waterfront, couldn’t be more central. • +855 23 222 260, bluelime.asia. Doubles from £28 B&B Eighty8 Guesthouse Eighty8 Guesthouse Eighty8 Guesthouse Phnom Penh’s most popular backpacker joint must be one of the cleanest and smartest backpacker hostels in south-east Asia. It features Cambodian textiles strewn across the beds and exotic flower arrangements in its air-conditioned rooms. However, young travellers check in mainly for the swimming pool, friendly staff, and social life: the hostel is renowned for its pool parties. There are a variety of rooms, from different levels of six- to eight-room dorms to private doubles with balconies, and the location in the Wat Phnom area is just a short remork ride from the waterfront and sights, shops and bars of Phnom Penh. The cafe-bar dishes up decent food and they make a good cocktail.