Today (August 13th, 2014): Review of Raffles Hotel Le Royal: understated, old world charm in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
- Location: Google Maps
- Address: 92 Rukhak Vithei Daun Penh, Sangkat Wat Phnom, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
- Hotel website: Raffles Le Royal
- Tip: enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso
Raffles Hotel Le Royal has, for nearly a century, been the premier hotel in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, blessed with history and style, atmosphere and aesthetics. First established in 1929, it welcomes as it has always done a diverse international clientele of entrepreneurs, writers, journalists, royalty and intrepid travelers of all stripes. Graced through the years by legends including former U.S First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy and French writer, statesman and adventurer André Malraux, Raffles Phnom Penh sets the benchmark for refined enchantment and divine relaxation, infused with the history of Phnom Penh itself.
In this review (more info and photos below my slideshow):
- Pros & things I like
- Cons & things to know
- My verdict
- Tips for future guests & save money
- Best time to visit
- How to get there
PROS & THINGS I LIKE
- The hotel is a calm oasis in an overcrowded, sometimes dirty, and very hectic city. And it has an incredible history: when Pol Pot marched into the capital in 1975, this was the Hotel Le Royale that the French declared a neutral zone and where journalists sheltered until they moved to the French embassy.
- Upon arrival at the hotel, you will be met by a member of the staff who will take a seat with you in the pristine lobby area for an efficient check-in whilst you can sip on a refreshing welcome drink (better than having to stand in line at a desk).
- The hotel is located in the business heart of Phnom Penh: it is a block from the American Embassy, about half a mile to the river area, and a 15 minute tuktuk ride to the Russian Market.
- Dating from the 1920s, the hotel is distinguished by its blend of Khmer, Art Deco and French colonial architecture. Raffles Hotel Le Royal’s 133 rooms and 37 suites are all in colonial style, with wooden floors and overhead fans, and refurbished using local artworks and fabrics. Bathrooms are spacious but low-tech; they are all tiled in white and all have a classical bathtub, a sink stand in the same style and a nice shower corner with a glass door.
- The cool, tiled and hushed hallways reflect the historic charm of this grand old dame of Asia.
- The Raffles Spa offers relaxation and rejuvenation through a wide selection of services and facilities including treatment rooms, outdoor lap and fun pool, Jacuzzi, fitness centre, sauna and steam room. Treatments are provided by well-trained therapist.
- The hotel has two restaurants: Restaurant Le Royal is Phnom Penh’s most elegant fine dining restaurant, serving Royal Cambodian Cuisine and modern French cuisine. The somewhat soulless Café Monivong offers a sumptuous buffet most nights as well as an extensive a-la-carte menu featuring European and Asian cuisine.
- The Elephant Bar is fantastic for pre- and after dinner drinks with a great selection of cigars.
- Breakfast buffet is displayed at Café Monivong and is of high standard, with a mix of western and indigenous food, as well as great home-made jams.
- The two large, heated pools (one adult and one family pool) both enjoy a wonderful setting in the interior court of the hotel, surrounded by trees.
- Service is consistent, extremely attentive, warm and professional.
- Prices are very reasonable: it is a pretty expensive place by Phnom Penh standards although not so expensive by international norms (expect to pay US$150-$200 per night for the lowest room category).
- If you want to, you can arrive in style with the hotel’s excellent chauffeured BMW limousine service.
CONS & THINGS TO KNOW
All in all, this hotel deserves its fine reputation and exhibits the high standards one expects at any Raffles establishment. Nevertheless, you need to be aware of the following:
- The hotel has a charming colonial feel without the run-down facilities that often come with that charm. But I advise to adjust your expectations: rooms are not 5-star plush or cutting edge modern; they are dark with wooden floors and huge carpets. But if old-world colonial decadence is your game, you will love this hotel.
- The hotel isn’t central to the area that most tourists frequent (the Riverside) but it’s not that far away either. For safety, in particular at night, transportation is a must.
- Although excellent, the breakfast buffet is very expensive (US$ 30 per person per day).
- Noise levels (e.g. hallway, street or A/C) can be troublesome.
- Location: 8/10
- Design: 7/10
- Rooms: 7/10
- Food: 8/10
- Service: 9/10
- Overall experience: good: 7,8/10
TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
- Save money: read my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel like the Raffles Hotel Le Royal (and/or receive many free perks).
- Save money: enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, a 50-minute massage for two).
- Book a room with a pool view so that you can sit on your balcony and enjoy the serenity of the gardens around the pool area (and avoid street noise at night).
- From time to time, the Raffles Hotel Le Royal features on Jetsetter, which offers one of the best deals.
- Read my tips preparing your trip in time.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
Like most of Southeast Asia, Cambodia varies from warm to very hot throughout the whole year. There are four annual seasons: cool and dry between November and February; (very) hot and dry between March and May; hot and wet between June and August; and cool and wet between September and early November. The best time to visit is the cool season, when the weather usually benefits from a pleasant dry heat and the countryside is still green from the rains.
HOW TO GET THERE
Raffles Hotel Le Royal is located only 30 minutes’ drive from Phnom Penh international Airport, which is served by quite a number of international airlines. Check the Wikipedia page of Phnom Penh international Airport for an updated list of airlines that fly to the airport.