We stayed at the Raffles at the beginning of our recent two week trip to SE Asia. After 26 plus hours of travel from NYC, being greeted in the cool lobby with smiles, a refreshing cool towel and drink kicked off our adventures in classic Asian- hospitality form (oh, how Western hoteliers could learn a thing or two from their Eastern counterparts!)
As others have noted, the Raffles is a cool, colonial oasis in the city - a bit like being transported back to French Indochina - with all of today's creature comforts (the air conditioning in our room worked so well it was actually a little too cold for my liking).
For me, the greatest strengths of the Raffles le Royal were the careful maintenance of the entire compound and the genuinely warm service. The TLC that goes into keeping this place up to exceptionally high, world class standards was clear both inside of the hotel and out. Everything is pristine, from the marble in the lobby to the floors of the corridors to the lush vegetation outside. The staff couldn't have been sweeter or more helpful and genuinely kind in every encounter. Even if there was a stumble in language here or there, they truly knew how to make their guests feel welcome. For example, it was my partner's birthday during our visit and he was feted not once, but twice (!!) by different staff members with birthday cakes and wine. A special thanks to Bun Rath who hand delivered a cake, wine and handwritten card to him. His sincerity touched us both!
The graciousness of its staff aside, what surprised me most (and what never translated for me from the reviews I'd read) was how formal the hotel feels in relation to the Raffles in Siem Reap, where I stayed 9 years ago (and where we visited later in our trip). That hotel feels less Royal and more, well, almost homey (as opposed to Grand). The Raffles le Royal has a more urban elegance, with a few casual venues: the bistro for breakfast and light meals, and the coffee/sundries shop.
A couple of other notes: the salt water pool is large and inviting, enclosed in a peaceful, palm tree lined courtyard. The gym's outdated equipment and smallish space, along with its weak air-conditioning, was somewhat of a disappointment, although serviceable. We enjoyed two very good massages at the spa. Finally the formal restaurant is simply not to be missed - we had the best meal of our entire trip there.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- A history of hospitality. The luxury of time. The secret charm of Cambodia. One of Asia's essential destination hotels, Raffles Phnom Penh has been the iconic resting place for the well travelled since 1929. Located in the heart of vibrant Phnom Penh, our hotel has been part of the history of the city and welcomes, as it has always done, a diverse clientele of entrepreneurs, writers, journalists, royalty and intrepid travellers from across the globe. Rooms and suites have been respectfully restored to reflect a distinguished blend of Khmer, Art Deco and French colonial architecture. Dining is an essential part of the Phnom Penh experience. In keeping with history and a sense of place, the elegant Le Royal Restaurant serves modern French cuisine and Royal Khmer cuisine with original recipes graciously gifted to Raffles from the Royal Palace. Almost as famous as the hotel itself, is the Elephant Bar where local residents and visitors alike gather over wine, whisky and cocktails. The Raffles Spa offers relaxation, rejuvenation and fitness through a considered mix of local and classic treatments, gym and spa pool. Complete your visit to Cambodia with a stay at our sister hotel Raffles Grand Hotel d'Angkor, a great hotel of the legendary Grand Tour of Indochina and virtually at the doorstep of the Angkor UNESCO World Heritage site. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Raffles Hotel Phnom Penh