For our first trip to Cambodia, we had planned two nights in the capital, Phnom Penh, and another two nights in Siem Reap to visit the temples of Angkor Wat.
Phnom Penh is one of those cities where the hotel scene is delightfully easy-going no matter what type of lodgings you’re looking for. Good-quality guest houses and Airbnbs are available for a pittance by Western standards – say around $30–50 per night – whereas even the city’s most luxurious hotel, the Raffles Phnom Penh, usually caps out at only $300/night at most.
I eventually decided to go with the most familiar option for our two-night stay: the Courtyard by Marriott Phnom Penh, which also happens to be the only Marriott property in town. As a lowly Category 2 hotel within the Marriott Bonvoy program, a free night here only costs 12,500 Bonvoy points at the standard rate, which is decent value compared to the cash rates in the range of $130/night, so I decided to redeem points for our stay.
(Even though my previous stays at Courtyard hotels haven’t been anything special, I had noticed that this one was newly opened and thought that it looked quite nice from the pictures. Nevertheless, I still wasn’t planning on actually writing a review of it, until I actually showed up at the hotel, found myself sufficiently impressed by my surroundings, and deemed it worthy of a full post.)
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Courtyard Phnom Penh – Location & Arrival
After landing in Phnom Penh International Airport in mid-afternoon, we called a $4 Grab taxi to bring us along the 20-minute drive to the hotel.
The Courtyard is located fairly centrally within the city of Phnom Penh, within an easy Grab taxi or tuk-tuk ride to major attractions like the Royal Palace, the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, and the Russian Market. (In theory, it’s well within walking distance of these places as well, except Phnom Penh, with its narrow and gritty sidewalks, is very far from what a place that I’d call “walkable”.)
The hotel entrance fronts immediately against the busy Phnom Penh street scene. A bellhop helped us with our luggage – something you certainly wouldn’t expect at a Courtyard hotel – and guided us to the check-in counters. My first impressions of the lobby were very positive, as the newly renovated hotel oozes stylish and smart design in a way that I had never seen from a Courtyard.
Courtyard Phnom Penh – Check-in
Check-in was completed very efficiently. The staff member thanked me for being a Marriott Bonvoy Titanium Elite member, and informed us of a room upgrade to an Executive Deluxe room on the 12th floor. I had previously reached out over chat to inquire about the Courtyard Suite, the hotel’s only suite type, but it wasn’t forthcoming on this occasion, and I wasn’t feeling fussy enough about it to push further.
The associate also informed me that I’d have access to the 20th-floor Executive Lounge, where breakfast and evening appetizers are served.
“Wait, what?” I thought to myself. “An Executive Lounge at a Courtyard?!” Indeed, this was turning out to be a Courtyard full of pleasant surprises.
We took the elevators up to the 12th floor, where we had been assigned Room 1211. The property only opened in late 2018, so everything about the hotel’s decor still felt very fresh and new.
Courtyard Phnom Penh – Executive Deluxe Room
The Executive Deluxe room is located on the corner of the building, and offers quite a generous square footage as the third-highest room type within the hotel. Getting the Courtyard Suite would’ve been a nice bonus, but this room fully met our actual needs for the stay.
The room featured a king-sized bed, which was no less comfortable than the beds you’d find at higher-end hotel chains.
The far side of the room plays host to a large sofa & chaise longue combo, which serves multiple functions: it’s a place to sit and relax during the day, it can be used as a chair for the nearby table, and it can be transformed into a pull-out bed for a third guest in the room.
The hotel had left some fruits and cookies for us as a welcome amenity on the table here.
There’s one additional chair for the table as well. The room doesn’t have a desk or any other surface to work from, so this table functioned as both a dining table and a workspace.
A central pillar in the room ties everything together, supporting the wall-mounted television on one side while ensconcing the room’s relatively limited pantry and minibar on another.
With a limited minibar selection and instant powdered coffee instead of Nespresso pods, this is where you’re reminded that, despite the hotel’s numerous strengths, this is indeed still a limited-service Courtyard property.
The bathroom is found in the corner of the room nearest the entrance. Again, I was very impressed by the modern decor and quality furnishings, including a shower that featured excellent water pressure along with one of my favourite shower features out there: a sit-down bench.
The bathroom was also open-concept to the main bedroom by design, with sliding wooden panes along the sink and mirror that would give you additional privacy.
Then, in the opposite corner, you’ll find a simple walk-in closet area with some luggage storage racks. By the way, the room also offered a set of bathrobes, which is yet another thing that I had never encountered at a Courtyard before.
The corner windows had a commanding view of the streets and rooftops of Phnom Penh. The capital’s skyline isn’t really one that I would describe as “scenic”, but rather, its busy and jam-packed appearance inspired us to go out and explore the city as soon as we arrived.
I have to say, overall, I was quite taken back by the room’s sharp design, intuitive layout, and an overall sense of comfort that I wasn’t quite expecting from a Courtyard given the unimpressive level of my previous stays with the brand.
Courtyard Phnom Penh – Executive Lounge
Those impressions would only continue when Jessy and I made our way up to the 20th floor, where most of the hotel’s other features are concentrated.
With a swipe of our keycard, we were granted access to the Courtyard’s Executive Lounge, a sentence I never thought I’d write prior to arriving at this hotel. What’s more, the lounge was actually very well-appointed, with three or four distinct seating zones geared towards eating, relaxing, and working (including a computer and a printer).
Jessy and I stopped by the Executive Lounge for breakfast on both mornings before heading out for the day. While the spread was more limited than what you’d find at a full-service hotel, it still managed a good mix of a few types of Asian and Western items.
This in-lounge breakfast buffet was particularly valuable due to the fact that Marriott Bonvoy elite members normally aren’t even entitled to a full breakfast benefit at Courtyard hotels – it’s usually just a US$10 food and beverage credit per stay.
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We also checked out the lounge’s evening appetizer spread – which came with unlimited alcohol drinks – one evening as well, in advance of our Phnom Penh Hidden Bar Tour. With so much delicious food to try in Cambodia, though, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend stopping by the evening spread beyond having a light pre-dinner snack.
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Courtyard Phnom Penh – Pool & Gym
Besides the Executive Lounge, the standout feature on the 20th floor is the outdoor pool and lounge. As we’d come to discover, Phnom Penh has a particularly active rooftop bar scene, and the Courtyard plays its part with an expansive outdoor deck overlooking the rest of the city.
We also enjoyed taking a dip in the pool after a long day in the summertime heat and humidity of Phnom Penh, recharging our batteries on the submerged lounge chairs before heading out for the evenings.
Also on the 20th floor was the fitness centre, which was definitely on the small side, and only had the bare essentials in terms of exercise equipment.
Finally, the Courtyard also has a lobby lounge on the ground floor, which serves coffee, drinks, and presumably a light breakfast for guests who don’t have access to the Executive Lounge.
We grabbed a coffee here on the final afternoon before checking out of the hotel and heading back to the airport for our quick domestic hop over to Siem Reap.
Although my previous stays at Courtyard hotels have been wholly unremarkable, this experience at the newly-opened Phnom Penh location greatly surpassed my expectations. The guest rooms are stylish and well-appointed, with an eye for design that far exceeds the Courtyard brand standard; meanwhile, many other aspects of the hotel, such as the staff service, outdoor pool, and Executive Lounge, would not be out of place at a full-service property at all.
On top of all that, this hotel can be a very good use of your Marriott Bonvoy points, costing only 12,500 points per night at the standard rate – although, of course, it must be said that Cambodia is a place where affordable accommodations are truly a dime a dozen. Therefore, the next time in Phnom Penh, I’d be equally as open to trying out some other options as I would be to returning to what must be one of the world’s nicest Courtyard locations.