Circa 51 is a stylish, understated hotel with beautiful rooms housed in a retro 1960s building with a pool.
Circa 51 has been featured in Travel + Leisure and the Guardian, and why is no mystery. Its tasteful interior decor complements the retro 1960s building that houses it. Circa 51 is the kind of stylish, understated hotel that a certain type of traveler loves (and that Cambodians hate, for not being shiny and gaudy enough).
The hotel’s location in the heart of Phnom Penh, its snappy design, and (perhaps most importantly) its pool make Circa 51 an excellent choice for your Phnom Penh digs. The small hotel — it has just ten rooms — is both quiet and family-friendly. Each room is simply decorated, with charming details such as brightly colored traditional Cambodian masks on the wall. But unlike many of Phnom Penh’s popular hotels, Circa 51 doesn’t overdo it and keeps the Cambodian curio decor to a tasteful minimum — just enough to remind visitors of where they are without banging them over the head with it. The beds are comfortable, with high-quality bedding and mattresses. Each room has an LCD flat-screen TV, air-conditioning, a safe, and a mini-bar.
Shaded by tropical trees and vines, the infinity pool is the perfect place to relax after a long day of Phnom Penh living. (It’s also available to locals and expats who purchase food at the on-site cafe.) The cafe serves a surprisingly good cup of coffee, although the included breakfast was less impressive. The menu boasts a variety of international dishes, including a selection of Pakistani offerings and quite a few vegetarian selections. The hotel is also within walking distance of lots of excellent restaurants.
Owned by a Pakistani-Australian couple, the building has an interesting history; built for the Prime Minister in 1967, it became a press propaganda building and was later owned by the king’s sister, Princess Bopha Devi. The building is typical of modernist architecture from Cambodia’s golden age after the country’s independence from the French. These buildings are rapidly disappearing from the nation’s capital, so it’s nice to see one so lovingly maintained.
Rates start at $62 for a double and go up to $120 a night for a studio with a terrace, plus an additional $15 per night during high season. Rates are based on double occupancy; there is a $15 charge for each additional person. Rooms are significantly cheaper on Agoda, with rooms starting at $46 for a double.
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