It’s been a bit of a busy month. Weekends, nights, days, are all occupied with something and any free hours are devoted to House of Cards. So when my partner’s birthday conveniently popped up last weekend, all I could think was surprise staycation. We’ve got a lot of wonderful boutique hotels in Phnom Penh. All bespoke, thematic and for all budgets. This made it really fun to see my partner guess which we were staying at as we tuk-tuked en route. The ones I lean on are the family of hotels owned by Marie and Alexis de Sureimain (together, they’re known as MAADS) They’ve designed and curated such a wonderful collection of accommodations that preserve heritage buildings and architecture in Phnom Penh and further. We love going to Kirirom Mountain Lodge when we need a respite out of the city.
But last week, I decided to stay in Phnom Penh and I booked us into MAADS’ The Plantation. You would never guess it was in the middle of the hustle and bustle of an emerging Asian city. And you would never believe that check-in is happening at the former Ministry of Labour. And before it was a government building, it served as an administrative building linking the governing French and the Royal Palace, which is just a hop and a skip away.
The Plantation’s front-of-house mansion dates back to the 1930s, and MAADS has helped to preserve it and reconstruct the parts which had been destroyed during the war in the 1970s. And what a restoration it was.
The administrative buildings, built during the 1980s and 90s, that form the body of the hotel have been transformed into a sumptuous jungle from their purpose built and almost Soviet nature. This entire section of the property is filled with lush, green, tropical foliage. It all surrounds the pool, which is lined with tiny cabanas that allow for direct access. You forget that it’s supposed to feel like 45°C out here.
The rooms are so comfortable. While their bones reveal their former administrative purposes, French architect Ivan Tizianel has transformed The Plantation’s rooms into minimalist havens from the heat, most of which look out onto the pool and all the greenery.
So for about 24 hours, we forgot about the week that lay ahead, and revelled in all of which was present. In short: we didn’t want to leave, hop into a tuk tuk, and travel only 2km back to our regular lives.
All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use. Cait+Tiff are not liable for any flights of fancy.