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At the swank intersection of old and new: Hotel Nine

By: Roswell Thomas Posted: May-07-2011 in
Image courtesy Hotel 9
Roswell Thomas

Hotel Nine is on a quiet street just off Sihanouk Boulevard, at the heart of downtown and the intersection of old Phnom Penh and new Phnom Penh. From your balcony, you can look down on both; as dusk falls, you’ll watch the smoke and bustle of the vibrant Kapco (literally translated, “cow kill”) market die down below you, while beyond the head of the street, young Cambodians gather in the plaza around the Vietnamese Friendship Memorial to dance in mass synchrony to Khmericized remixes of the global top 40. At the end of a long day, Hotel Nine invites you to take in all this from a comfortable distance, relaxing behind the hotel gates and, perhaps, a martini.

“The best part of the hotel is up here,” says co-owner Mark, standing proudly on one of the Hotel 9 balconies. “This is an extension of your room, where you can sit, enjoy our drink service, and swap travel stories with other tourists. Other boutique hotels are more tucked away – we come with a bit of noise. Only until 8:30, though.”

Mark and his wife and co-owner, Lu, have extensively remodeled Hotel Nine. The building was constructed in a very different time in Cambodia’s history, originally built to house the UN workers who came in to supervise the 1994 elections. It now features elegant bathrooms and wifi in every room (although electric outlets in some rooms are a bit non-obvious). Premier interior decorators IChing (you’ll recognize their work from the CIP lounge at Phnom Penh airport and some of the nicer restaurants in town) have ensured that Hotel Nine is an elegant habitat worthy of its price point. Be sure not to miss the exquisite Lime Nine café (review here) and, of course, the plunge pool.

Hotel Nine was designed by well-traveled parents, and is an obvious choice if you have young travelers in your party. The pool was inspired by Mark and Lu’s three daughters, aged five to eight. “The heat absolutely knocks kids around,” Mark says on the hardest part of traveling with children, “so we knew the pool was very important.” Hotel Nine also offers a nanny service for parents who aren’t ready to bring their children to the Tuol Sleng museum or the Killing Fields, or who merely want a break.

Children look for different things in travel. “You haven’t been to Rome?” a young lady asked me incredulously during my stay at Hotel Nine; “oh, you should go!” I braced myself for the standard treatise on Roman architecture and Italian cuisine, but I got something a bit different: “there is a fountain, and you can throw in a coin and make a wish! I wished for a bigger family and it came true! I don’t really remember the rest of the city though.” The rest of our conversation consisted mostly of the words “marco” and “polo.”

Hotel Nine
48 Street 9
One bedroom for $50/night (additional cots available)
Two bedroom suites for $70/night


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