I decided to do this in the usual style, booking a hotel car from the airport etc, for my first stay at a Raffles hotel.
The driver was waiting for me at Phnom Penh airport in traditional chauffeur's outfit, including white gloves.
The hotel car was a Series 5 BMW. It was a 40 minute drive to the hotel in heavy post-lunchtime traffic, and hot weather, and I was glad to be in the cool car listening to music.
At the hotel cheerful Noemie (Marketing & Communications Manager) was outside waiting for me. She kept me company while I was checked in sitting down and given a refreshing cold ginger & lemongrass welcome drink.
I paid to be upgraded to the Charles de Gaulle 'Personality Suite' (they have four, Jacqueline Kennedy is another).
The Charles de Gaulle Suite
The 'suite' was beautifully furnished with classy pictures relating to Charles de Gaulle but, with just one seat in the bedroom and no sitting room, I think it would be better called a 'Personality Room'. Having said this, the white bathroom was large & stunning and I Ioved the room/suite.
I then headed the pool. There are in fact two pools. One shallower for children, although I saw no children during my stay.
I got a Pisco sour, This is a South American cocktail, I spent two months in Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil last year. Pisco is a colourless to yellowish/amber brandy from Peru and a Pisco sour is made by adding Key lime/lemon juice, egg whites, Angostura bitters, ice and syrup. It is tart, refreshing and delicious.
With that I got a spicy 'picante' pizza with pepperoni, salami, chorizo, Spanish onion, Cayenne pepper & Paprika, they added anchovy for me, without question, and the pizza arrived so quickly. With the cocktail, it was divine. The pool staff are excellent.
The only problem with the pool is the 'indented' steps when you get out. Like at Four Seasons Hong Kong, these were a struggle and take strength. At Raffles this was more of a problem because the customers tend to be older.
Cocktails with the Hotel Manager
I thought I was having cocktails with Noemie at 6pm but Hotel Manager Cyrille joined us. He was another charming French Raffles manager who had so many interesting stories, included memories from people of times before (and during) the Khmer Rouge regime at the hotel.
Three Grey Goose martinis were drunk before I knew it. Noemie had a gift for me, which I decided to open later.
Back in the Elephant Bar
After a rest in my 'suite', I returned to the bar. I loved the martini quote in the Raffles magazine in the car "one martini is alright, two are too many and three are not enough". Never a truer statement made.
As well as so many martinis they ran out of Grey Goose, as Four Seasons Beirut once did too during my stay there, I tried their refreshing French 92, named after their street number.
My Incredible Gift
Back at my suite I was blown away by Noemie's perfect gift for me. Gorgeous soft leather luggage tags with the names of the three Raffles hotels I have visited (ie Raffles Grand Hotel d'Angkor, Raffles Le Hotel Royal and Raffles Singapore).
Breakfast the Next Day
After a perfect night's sleep in my four-poster bed with incredible pillows, I had breakfast in Café Monivong with Noemie.
This is a light and airy room and perfect for breakfast. I think it is named after the pre-WW2 Cambodian King.
Over breakfast we chatted about the room/suite issue. Noemie said other guests had made the same comment as me and Raffles fully understood the point. However, they felt 'suite' had to be used to reflect the importance of the dignitaries they are named after.
Cyrille (the Hotel Manager) came to say hello again during breakfast.
Next was a tour of the 1929 hotel and its Royal Suite. There is so much history, and so many World Heads have stayed in the Royal Suite (eg the Emperor of Japan). I adored this tour & fell in love this the hotel even more.
🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻 (6 out of 5 ‘teddies’) - the extra 'teddy' was for the cocktails with fascinating Cyrille & the leather luggage tag gift from Noemie. If you want sophisticated old world charm, this is the hotel for you in Phnom Penh. My tips: as with Raffles Grand Hotel d'Angkor, go for a drink, even if you are not staying there. With this hotel, take the swimming pool steps slowly and carefully.