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.
1. La Villa, Battambang
Priscilla La Villa-holiday Cambodia-boutique hotels
In the back of the villa, the hotel’s restaurant is covered by a glass roof from the 1900s.
Quiet Battambang grows on you. La Villa, a colonial townhouse dating back to the 1930s, first fell into the hands of the Vietnamese army, then a Cambodian general and finally squatters before it was brought back to its original art deco life.
Wooden four-posters draped with muslin stand proud on antique tiled floors, the only constant within the seven very different and elegant rooms.
The bar continues the art deco theme, and the restaurant spills outside, so guests can eat inside or in the garden.
Rooms from US$55.
N 185 Pom Romchek 5 Kom, Rattanak Srok, Battambang. Tel: +855 (53) 730 151,www.lavilla-battambang.net
2. Four Rivers Floating Lodge, Koh Kong
Four Rivers-holiday Cambodia-boutique hotels
Wake up to the sound of mountains.
Ten minutes’ boat ride from the nearest road, this mini-resort is centered on the river.
A dozen guest tents evoke glamping in Africa with their luxurious interiors and bathrooms with Hinoki tubs. There are salas to lounge in, a restaurant and a living room tent, all in bijou size and afloat on the calm Tatai River.
Dive off the resort into the fresh water or sea water (depending on the season) to go kayaking, fishing or to watch dragonflies and birds scoot overhead.
Don’t miss: The nearby natural falls and the pools they have gently worn away for centuries.
Tents from US$114.
Koh Andet Island, Tatai Village, Koh Kong Province. Tel: +855 (0) 23 21 73 74,www.ecolodges.asia
3. Frangipani Villa Hotel, Siem Reap
Frangipani-holiday Cambodia-boutique hotels
Make sure to take advantage of the hotel’s complimentary bike service.
It’s the pool that hits you first at this town villa, far before you get to the deluxe balcony pool rooms surrounded by loungers and frangipani trees.
Eat inside or in the garden at their restaurant, and make sure you try the specialities — fish amok and green mango salad.
Highlight: Pedal around the area on one of the hotel’s complimentary bicycles and soak up the atmosphere of everyday Siem Reap life.
Rooms from US$30.
0603, Street Wat Bo, Siem Reap. Tel: +855 (63) 963 030, www.frangipanihotel.com
4. Karavansara, Siem Reap
Karavansara-holiday Cambodia-boutique hotels
Karvansara is just a 10-minute walk from local restaurants and markets.
Karavansara takes a traditional Khmer home and adds a yin and yang theme with the reception, restaurant and bar all dark wood and cozy colorful textiles.
Next door, the heritage guest rooms are their polar opposite — bright spaces of whitewashed brick, airy terraces and cool design. The rooftop pool is small but restful, especially during the day.
Staying longer? Opposite are the Karavansara Residences, huge contemporary luxurious flats overlooking the Siem Reap River.
Rooms from US$115.
25 Road, Archa Sva Road, Wat Bo Village, Salakamroeuk Commune, Siem Reap. Tel: +855 (63) 760678, www.karavansara.com
Viroths-holiday Cambodia-boutique hotels
Clear your mind in this uncluttered Zen-like setting.
Virtoh’s seven rooms, all sharing the saltwater pool, the rooftop Jacuzzi and the spa, are sleek and uncluttered. Plants make as much of a statement as the artifacts and cooling stone floors.
Don’t miss: Viroth’s Restaurant and its candle-lit, alfresco tables. It has a loyal following thanks to the chef’s Khmer dishes.
Three-night packages from US$325.
0658 Wat Bo Village, Siem Reap. Tel: +855 (63) 760 774, www.viroth-hotel.com