There’s only one problem with staying in the rooftop Jacuzzi suite at the Plantation (Phnom Penh’s newest urban retreat): It has spoiled me for travelling anywhere else for a while.
It’s like the first time I upgraded to Business Class. It ruined me for life as I now find myself glancing longingly at the huge reclining chairs and premier wine list in the front rows as I drag myself into my shoebox seat in steerage.
At the Plantation, there’s not much missing for my taste. It offers a place to check in and get pampered amid the dusty streets of the city. It’s a tranquil oasis from the outside turmoil of tuk tuks and pushcarts and there are surprises around every corner.
Firstly, it’s unobtrusive. Hidden behind white walls and a heavy wooden gate on Street 184, the resort is tucked between haircutting shops and hang bais where motodop drivers slurp noodle soup for breakfast and pushcarts announce the eagerly anticipated arrival of baguettes and duck eggs. The Plantation subtly whispers its presence with a pair of orange silk lanterns – hanging like a pair of miniature hot air balloons above the entrance – and a reception area fronted by a shallow pond filled with lotus blossoms.
The hotel was designed by Ivan Tizianel and Michel Verrot, architects and specialists who preserved the front building (the former Ministry of Labour in the 1930s) and tastefully added 70 rooms, all of which are miniature works of art. There’s lots of white everywhere with touches of vivid greens, yellows and oranges in the silk bedrunners, pillows, seating and artwork. Some rooms overlook the pool, some have private terraces and some are tucked away in the back with tiny gardens and outdoor seating.
But there’s no beating the lavish, enormous rooftop suite. More than 200 square meters of luxury with its own private entrance and two balconies – one with enough space to fit a small orchestra and the other with a Jacuzzi tub for two under the stars (or the sun, depending on your time of bathing).
There’s a huge living space with a flat-screen TV and two couches (which would work as single beds), a huge bedroom with a smaller balcony and two sleek bathrooms, one with a glass door opening onto the Jacuzzi balcony.
To paraphrase the words of “Hotel California”… You can check in anytime you want but you may never leave..
Then there’s the pool. If you ever needed an excuse to linger, this would be it. It’s a shimmering body of water, brimming over the edges of a hand-crafted natural slate pool, fringed by stark white individual cabanas, each with its own fan, mattress and light; and several with steps down to the water. It’s a spot made for lounging.
Palm trees stand to attention around the perimeter and a comfortable poolside restaurant offers a variety of dishes and cocktails, competitively priced to keep you at the resort.
At present, the pool and spa are only available for guests but the hotel plans to open a second pool and spa later this year which will be open to the public.
While the Plantation may be designed for luxury, it’s also designed to promote local culture and environmental practices by planting lush foliage, promoting local artists and using locally produced goods, such as the sugar-palm wood used in most of the furniture which protects against deforestation.
As far as I’m concerned, it leaves me feeling good about feeling good
# 28, street 184 – Phnom Penh, Cambodia