Raffles Hotel, Le Royal: Phnom Penh, Cambodia
One of the great things about living most of the year in Singapore is the ability to flit off to exotic locations for the weekend. Cambodia is a mere 90 minutes away by air so easily visited on a whim. Phnom Penh is a city on the up and one with a storied and often tragic history. Occupied by the French, Vietnamese and almost destroyed by the Khmer Rouge Phnom Penh has endured through it all. Built in the 1920's Raffles Le Royal
is one of those delicous Grande Dame colonial hotels just like The Imperial in Delhi and The Metropole in Hanoi, at both of which we have spent time. The wonderful thing about these Grande Dame Hotels, is the combination of their heritage, attention to detail and usually impeccable service. Raffles does not disappoint. We upgraded toa suite in the new wing, which came complete with its own personal butler. He greeted us at the entrance and escorted us to the airy lobby, served us ice lemon grass tea and had us checked in within five minutes. After escorting us to our room, he ensured the next two days were taken care of, with reservations at the right restaurants and a car booked for sightseeing the next day.
Great, food and activities taken care of, it was time for a pre-dinner drink, so off we headed to the famed Elephant bar. Elephants play a significant role in South East Asian mythology and were treasured by generations of Royal Families, the pages of the extensive cocktail menu feature stories of some of the most revered pachyderms. The bar has baby grand piano and a pianist tinkling out the standards. We ponied up to the bar and were immediately served some delicious salty snacks, Mrs. M cast a critical eye over the cocktail list, she went for the Femme Fatal a sickly combination of framboise syrup, sugar syrup and, cognac and sparkling wine. Apparently it was created for the unfortunate Jackie Onassis, who shortly after loosing her husband paid a visit to Raffles in Siem Reap to visit Angkor Wat. She was subjected to an evening of Jazz compositions by the reigning Prince Norodom and forced to imbibe this sickly creation. No doubt all she wanted was to go and visit the temple in peace….Advice here would be Avoid the cocktails go for a G&T or a safer option. However, its hard to complain when after four drinks between us the bill came to $14 US dollars. Happy Hour apparently, more like absolutely delighted hour, we didn't miss Happy Hour the next night, neither should you given that it lasts From 4PM to 9PM!!!
The Adult Pool
We avoided the formal french dining and opted for the more casual Cafe Movivong, absolutely delicious with local and international options. An early night for us the first day and back to our room, which was large, modern and well appointed. free wi-fi, soft high thread count sheets and absolutely five star. Its well worth planning several hours by the pool. Raffles Le Royal has the good sense to separate the adults from the children in the pool, so you are assured of a restful and relaxing experience. The pool area exudes olde world luxury fringed by palm trees and staff to save your every whim. This if course is right up Mr. M's street so he spent the day lounging by the pool while Mrs. M went art shopping and seeking street food for the AM.
The Verdict: The only place to stay in Phnom Penh
For Who: Lovers of luxury and appreciators of Happy Hour
The Damage $150 per night plus for a standard room, but the food is very expensive…