The Pavilion Hotel – Low-Key Chic & Excellent Value in Phnom Penh


The Pavilion Hotel

June 2009

In PP, we wouldn’t stay anywhere else. We’re not on a backpackers budget, but don’t necessarily like the rarified isolationism of Raffles (though love the hotel’s famous piano bars), so thought the Pavilion’s brand of low-key chic might fit the bill. It did not disappoint, and we felt like we were staying with friends at their lovely colonial villa.

Unlike others, we did not encounter any problems with reception staff – even in the reservation process, they were responsive and courteous, and even assisted me with some basic Khmer salutations. While there, we found them to be warm and helpful. If anything, non-invasive, which is far preffered to cloying and obtrusive. Sure, a couple of times there wasn’t anyone behind the desk, but you know what, go have a drink by the pool and come back in five minutes. In addition, upon arrival the first day we dropped our bags in the room and rushed out for an afternoon of jet-lagged sight seeing. When we returned to our room, I was touched to see that my things had been unpacked and beautifully put away for me, with shoes lined up and dresses hung. It was an unexpected and thoughtful nicety. We had room 7 with a large balcony overlooking the pool. We found it to be perfect. Everything done in a very clean aesthetic – white walls and linens, dark wood floors, carved mirrors, chunky wooden furniture, even down to interesting ceramic pulls to hold the roman shade cords. Just great style. We also found the bed and pillows to be really comfortable.

Grounds are truly a jungle oasis, well-maintained with the center piece being the simple jade-tiled pool. Funky oversized Tibetan beds with cool, colorful cushion covers are nestled into the palms for a little shade and privacy. We didn’t experience any issues with locals hogging the space, but perhaps we were just lucky or didn’t really care. The little restaurant next to the pool is charming and we found the food to be incredibly fresh, amazing and varied, though we couldn’t get enough of the Khmer food, so never tried any of the many western offerings. Breakfasts were – to us – absolute heaven. The fresh passionfruit juice, fruit, bread and eggs were perfection each morning. I am still dreaming about the bread.

We ended up modifying our itinerary last minute in order to return to the Pavilion after our trip to Siem Reap. One night during this stay, we had to take a small room with two single four-poster beds as the place was booked. While smaller, the room still maintained the understated chic aesthetic of the property, and I was grateful to even get a room at the last minute! In this room (18) we were entranced with the black & white photographs of Afghanistan taken in 1932 by – presumably – a relation of the owner’s. They are scattered throughout that section of the hotel, and are absolutely mesmerizing – don’t miss them. I would also absolutely look into one of the pool rooms.

It may be helpful that we looked at other hotels while in PP to get a feel for comparison. For us, we found the busyness of the river side to be too hectic, thus taking the FCC (tired and tattered catering to tourists), the Quay (nice but pretty modern and not very comfortable) and the Amanjaya out of the running. The Pavilion is also located in a great area – just next to Street 240 – great shopping and funky restaurants.

The reality is that the Pavilion threw a wrench into our subsequent hotel experiences in Cambodia as all we wanted was to come back to our little villa behind the elephants and the white wall.

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