La Rose: Streamlined sophistication in Cambodia

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A junior suite at La Rose Suites in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
A junior suite at La Rose Suites in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
A steady stream of traffic circles the giant roundabout of Independence Monument in the heart of Phnom Penh. Five minutes away, large doors with handles of voluptuous figures lead to one of the Cambodian city's boutique hotels. In a capital bustling with energy, La Rose Suites is a peaceful reprieve in its midst


Just beyond the entrance, a pathway canopied in green foliage leads to the hotel lobby. Dark wood furniture traces the room's edges, reminiscent of the region's colonial influence.

The hotel's ethos is "dually inspired by the charming architecture of French Indochina and the grandeur of Angkor Wat," evidenced by the artifacts dispersed throughout the space. This colonial fusion echoes around the property, known as one of the city's five-star boutique hotels.

On a sunny January day, guests walked through the lobby en route to the blue saltwater pool, surrounded by reclined lounge chairs. The calming rush of the fountains distracted from the steady honking beyond the walls.

A modest selection at the poolside bar was offset by the plethora of options at the hotel's restaurant, Banana Tree. The top-rated dining spot transforms into a dinner theater at 7 p.m. during two-hour classical Khmer dance performances. The eclectic menu with local and Western options is prepared by a renowned chef, who guests can spend a half or full day with for cooking classes.

The property's 68 rooms are nearly identical; wood furniture framed with simple white sheets, canopies. Large rose paintings are an homage to the hotel's namesake.

What the rooms lack in luxury appearance, they make up for in technology: all are outfitted with a music system, internet and flat-screen satellite TVs.

The array of free offerings that awaits each guest is impressive: a daily minibar, a one-hour Khmer massage and spa access, wireless internet and car parking.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of La Rose is its commitment to a greater cause. The hotel and its nearby partner property "employ previously impoverished children who have graduated from Pour un Sourire d'Enfant [For a Child's Smile]." As part of the international nongovernmental organization Pour un Sourire d'Enfant network, $5 per room per night is donated to the La Rose Foundation in support of this cause.

About 15 minutes away by foot is La Rose Suites' partner, La Rose Boutique Hotel & Spa. Those voluptuous door handles once again greeted me, and I admired the tiny details around the lobby: a floating white lotus flower, dried spices under the glass of a table, a hand in a meditative posture. This 10-room location is a bit more casual while maintaining the brand's trademark touches.

La Rose might not be an over-the-top five-star property, but its qualities make it a lovely local option for visitors to the Cambodian capital.

Nightly rates start at about $200. For more information, visit www.larosesuites.com.

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