Raffles Hotels and Resorts is a luxury brand dating back to 1887 when world-renowned Raffles Singapore first opened.
Raffles Hotel Le Royal is located in the heart of Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh. This historic hotel, set in lush tropical gardens, opened in 1929.
Turbulent years through the 1970’s and 80’s were responsible for the hotel’s much-needed restoration and 2017 marks Raffles Hotel Le Royal’s 20th anniversary since reopening.
Today, Raffles Hotel Le Royal transports guests to a bygone era where royalty, global leaders, dignitaries, writers, journalists and celebrities sought comfort during their travels. Let’s take a tour of Raffles Hotel Le Royal.
A Brief History.
The official opening of Raffles Hotel Le Royal (November 20, 1929) was attended by His Majesty Sisowath Monivong (reign – 1927-1941) and a host of expatriate guests. A lavish buffet, jubilant dancing, and performances by a Saigon Orchestra made it a night to remember.
The 1930’s to 60’s were lucrative years for the hotel. Phnom Penh, at the time, was the point of departure for excursions to Angkor. Travellers came by ship from Singapore to Bangkok then completed the journey by rail or car.
March 18, 1970, saw the coup that overthrew Cambodia’s Head of State, Prince Norodom Sihanouk and changed the face of Cambodia.
The 5-year conflict, or Lon Nol era, followed. Phnom Penh fell to Khmer Rouge forces on 17 April 1975. According to a former member of Khmer Rouge Battalion 310, this military group took charge of the hotel between 1975 and 1979.
During 1980, the hotel was known as the Samakki and was taken over by international aid agencies. UNTAC personnel, during the United Nation’s presence in Cambodia, occupied it in the early 1990s.
Under the supervision of Raffles International Limited, renovations began in May 1996 injecting the hotel with a new lease of life.
In late 1923, architect Ernest Hébrard consciously rejected traditional Khmer architecture for the newer, French colonial style. The result was a unique blend of French colonial with aspects of Khmer.
Sloping tiled rooves punctuated by triangular dormer windows, airy uncluttered corridors, shuttered windows and covered walkways were in keeping with the tropical climate. Restored to its former glory, Raffles Hotel Le Royal echoes the past while embracing the future.
175 elegant guest rooms, apartments and suites showcase Cambodian charm. State Rooms are spacious with modern comforts and private balconies. Colonial Suites, perfect for business travellers, have writing desks and living areas while Executive Suites offer separate living rooms and kitchens.
In the original heritage building, Landmark Rooms with high ceilings, historic bathrooms complete with original claw-foot baths, remind guests of the hotel’s history.
Personality Suites are named after well-known guests, Jackie Kennedy, Somerset Maugham, Charles De Gaulle and André Malraux. Landmark Suites have king or twin bedrooms and spacious living rooms decorated with original antiques and artwork. The single Le Royal Suite is the most luxurious.
Suites are accompanied by a Butler who will pack and unpack your luggage, serve tea and coffee with your wake-up call and draw your bath with personally selected signature bath salts.
Café Monivong is a relaxed colonial style café with an outdoor terrace. This all day dining venue serves an extensive breakfast buffet complete with Grey Goose vodka for that often needed Bloody Mary.
An a la carte menu for lunch and dinner offers traditional Khmer cuisine along with many Asian and Western favourites. International dinner buffets and theme nights are also arranged.
The upmarket Restaurant Le Royal promotes a traditional dining room experience. One of the few restaurants in the world serving Royal Khmer and Western Cuisine with signature Gueridon Service (Cooked, finished or presented via trolley, table side).
With dramatic chandeliers, elegant tableware and a brilliant hand – painted ceiling created by royal artist Assasax, make Restaurant Le Royal perfect for a special occasion.
Should this “occasion” be brunch, then Raffles Weekend Brunch is not to be missed. Free flow French champagne and cocktails accompany oysters, lobster and a decadent array of delectable offerings from the talented kitchen staff.
The Elephant Bar.
Your stay at Raffles Le Royal is not complete without a visit to the famous Elephant Bar. A full range of wines, beers and spirits, including 30 different Gins, will quench any thirst after a day of exploring. A lengthy list of signature cocktails transforms bar staff into performers and the classics are prepared with aplomb.
The Femme Fatale, Jackie Kennedy’s signature, concocted along with bar staff during her visit to Cambodia in 1967, is served in an elegant stem. Her original glass was found in the basement during renovations, lipstick and all.
Relax in comfortable leather couches, restaurant seating and lounge seats overlooking the tropical garden or prop at the bar and be regaled with stories of the past.
Don’t miss Happy Hour(s) from 4:00 pm until 09:00 pm daily where Caviar complements cocktails.
Adjacent to the Health Club and pool, Raffles Spa features female and male saunas, steam rooms and private treatment rooms. Begin in the steam room to relax travel-weary muscles. Your therapist will escort you to a peaceful treatment room to begin a traditional Khmer, Thai, Swiss, deep tissue, hot stone or aromatherapy massage. Add a facial using Dermalogica or Cambodian natural products and leave feeling brand new.
Raffles Hotel Le Royal has been strategically constructed surrounding 2 enormous swimming pools. Day beds are plentiful and generously spaced. Umbrellas and large tropical trees and plants provide shade from the afternoon sun. Water and cold lemongrass scented towels appear out of nowhere quietly delivered by attentive staff. The bar is open from 11:00 am and a poolside menu of Asian and Western treats keep the wolf from the door.
Raffles Hotels and Resorts pride themselves on their premier position in the market. Every effort is placed on anticipating their guests’ needs and ensuring requests are promptly attended to. Staff are efficient courteous and greet guests warmly. Our experiences at both Raffles Hotel Le Royal, Phnom Penh, and Raffles Hotel D’ Angkor in Siem Reap were second to none.
Emirates Airline flies daily from Dubai to Phnom Penh via Myanmar. Astute travellers will have the 2 Raffles Hotels in Cambodia high on their list of preferred accommodation. Raffles Hotel Le Royal and Raffles Hotel D’ Angkor: they’re luxury hotels we love….
Shona’s award winning travel blog shares tips and tricks on where to eat, drink, explore & shop in any given destination. At home ordering street food or perusing a fine dining menu, she seeks out venues with a conscience who promote local produce and sustainability. Find her in markets, museums, art galleries and on walking tours as well as wineries, breweries, distilleries and restaurants. Wherever she is, she’s always looking for something a little different to share with her readers. Follow her travels at www.paraphernalia.co or subscribe to her Shenanigans Report http://paraphernalia.co/subscribe-form/ so as not to miss a post. firstname.lastname@example.org