A decade ago Cambodia was in recovery, memories of the civil war still raw.
Today entrepreneurs are setting up new businesses as fast as they can, with many choosing to go into the small hotel trade.
From converted colonial buildings to sparkling, high-tech designer pads, here are 10 boutique hotels in Cambodia that combine affordability with a large slice of style.
6. FCC, Siem Reap
FCC Siem Reap-holiday Cambodia-boutique hotels
Need perfect pillow alignment? Yep, you’re in good hands.
Possibly the longest bathrooms in the world, complimentary breakfast in bed and a generous saltwater pool have all made the FCC in Siem Reap a household name.
Visaya Spa has its own pool, steam and sauna, plus rooms with alfresco showers.
Get sociable: The alfresco restaurant is a local hangout, home to exhibitions and events, and bordered by an eclectic selection of shops.
Rooms from US$115.
Pokambor Avenue, Siem Reap. Tel: +855 (63) 760 283, www.fcccambodia.com/angkor
7. The Pavilion, Phnom Penh
The Pavillion- holiday Cambodia-boutique hotels
Why are all four-poster beds romantic?
The high ceilings of this historic colonial townhouse sit over French and Khmer architecture, antiques, art and exquisite tiled floors.
The 20 rooms are effortlessly romantic, four-posters looking out to a garden or terrace, a few with private plunge pools or a Jacuzzi. Laze poolside or stay hidden away in cabanas or little day beds within the jungle-like greenery.
Fast fact: This majestic old home once belonged to King Sihanouk’s mother. Makes you wonder what it was like living here in her day.
Rooms from US$40.
227 Street 19, Khan Daun Penh, Phnom Penh. Tel: +855 (0) 23 22 22 80, www.thepavilion.asia
8. Knai Bang Chatt, Kep
Khai Bang Chat- holiday Cambodia-boutique hotels
Live like the Cambodian Tony Stark.
Kep, on Cambodia’s southeastern coast, epitomizes a modern-day Ta Prohm.
During the 1960s, extravagant Le Corbusier-style homes were popular among Cambodia’s social elite here. But following the exodus triggered by the civil war many have been reclaimed by the jungle.
Knai Bang Chatt, on the water’s edge, is made up of three beautifully renovated, antique-filled villas housing just 11 rooms, within grounds that include a pool, restaurant and one-room spa.
There’s a hushed, reverent, luxury feel while the rustic style keeps things casual.
Highlight: Eating pepper crab on the Sailing Club’s veranda as the sun sinks beneath the Gulf of Thailand’s horizon.
Rooms from US$100.
Phum Thmey, Sangkat Prey Thom, Khan Kep, Kep City. Tel: +855 (0) 12 349 742, www.knaibangchatt.com
9. Lebiz Hotel + Library, Phnom Penh
Lebiz-holiday Cambodia-boutique hotels
Get a sensory underload at this minimalistic gem.
The newest boutique hotel in Phnom Penh, Lebiz is something for the Gen-Y businessman or woman. Eye-catching exterior, a lobby with a catwalk-shaped pool, library to the right, Lime restaurant to the left.
Every detail has been chosen to visually entertain, from the graphic wall designs and the choice of books within the transparent library shelves, to the uniforms of the staff.
Rooms all feature over-sized images above the bed, plenty of work space and sleek bathrooms. There’s also a meeting space and a spa.
Fast fact: The wall art in Lime is by Cambodian-Kiwi graffiti artist Peap Tarr.
Rooms from US$78.
79F Street 128, Phnom Penh. Tel: +855 (0) 23 99 86 08, www.lebizhotel.com
10. The 240, Phnom Penh
240-holiday Cambodia-boutique hotels
The 240 warns, “Sex travelers not welcome.”
“Sex travelers not welcome,” says the rather curt homepage of the 240, because Street 240 has it all. It’s home to an enticing collection of bars and restaurants, boutiques and a spa, creating a mini village that’s cosmopolitan yet quintessentially Cambodian.
Where better to stay than right in the middle at The 240, a tiny abode of just five modern rooms with splashes of color and great design details, some with their own terrace or a slither of pool shaded by a parasol.
Eat well: The restaurant and shop downstairs focus on organic dishes and foods, small lawns of wheatgrass sprouting on each table.
Rooms from US$45.
83 Street 240, Khan Daun Penh, Phnom Penh. Tel: +855 (0) 23 21 84 50, www.the240.asia>