The Rosewood Phnom Penh Invites You To Experience A Cultural Renaissance

Phnom Penh is experiencing a cultural renaissance of sorts. As Cambodia’s capital city greets you, gone are the memories of its troubled past and in its place, a rejuvenation of architecture, style and art – re-introducing Khmer culture at its best.

Standing at the heart of the city centre and overlooking both the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers, is the Vattanac tower, a tall and shiny testament to the rapid growth Phnom Penh has been experiencing. Occupying the top 14-storeys of the tower is the Rosewood Phnom Penh, currently one of the tallest hotels in the country. And with it, you will find 360-degree views of the city as well as an oasis that perfectly melds modern amenities with cultural and historical accents. Upon arrival, giant stone and wired sculptures of animals and ancient gods greet you, as does a fleet of staff who oblige you with signature Khmer hospitality.

A champion of the Khmer culture

Embracing the Rosewood’s brand philosophy of ‘A Sense of Place’, the hotel has taken upon itself to position the hotel as the centre of Phnom Penh’s burgeoning cultural revival. In its 175 rooms and suites, six restaurants and spa and function rooms, guests will find an abundance of Khmer art and architecture, as well as cultural books on Cambodian history and culture. To welcome guests along the ultra-luxury hotel’s entryway, Cambodian artist Chan Dany has created a customised wood carving panel featuring traditional Cambodian motifs with a contemporary twist.
Unique to the hotel is its art gallery space. It is mostly used to exhibit contemporary local artists, giving the local art scene verifiable space to introduce their works to international audiences. At the time of our visit, the ‘Lucky Goes to Rosewood’ exhibit, a collaboration between the hotel and the Wildlife Alliance, showcased the unique art drawn by Lucky the elephant to raise funds for wildlife conservation. It’s another testament to the Rosewood’s commitment to champion causes close to Cambodian communities’ heart.

“Rosewood Phnom Penh continues to redefine luxury while honouring Cambodian culture,” says Rosewood Phnom Penh Managing Director Daniel Simon. “We are always looking forward to finding new ways in which we can offer our guests an unforgettable experience.” Activities that are curated by Rosewood Phnom Penh take into account Khmer culture, while private tours around the city are also available upon request. There is also the whimsical option to zip around the local streets within a 2km radius of the property in one of the Rosewood’s fleet of leather-lined electric ‘tuk-tuks’.

Adding to its ethos of cultivating local talent, the hotel works with a number of local artists and cultural experts that provide amazing insight into the current rush to assert Khmer culture across all aspects of the hospitality industry. Born in France and raised in Montreal by parents who had escaped the Khmer Rouge genocide, one such friend of the hotel is street artist FONKi. The world-renowned graffiti artist is one of Phnom Penh’s returning children that has tapped into the emerging scene of new-generation artists.

Having had exhibitions and his art displayed at the property, FONKi has developed a special relationship with The Rosewood Phnom Penh. “Street art all around the world is really inspired by ancient culture,” he says. “Because there was no typical aesthetic for Cambodia in terms of street art, I needed to create something that really reflects the culture because I think that graffiti is the mirror of the society, city, region, where it’s being developed.” FONKi’s distinctive style of graffiti, which incorporates traditional Cambodian motifs called ‘kbach’ can be found in several streets and buildings around the city. He continues his relationship with establishments like the Rosewood Phnom Penh by curating city tours with the hotel and recommending contemporary local artists to showcase their work at the inhouse gallery.

Daniel Simon adds: “Our artistic journey and collaborations throughout the year are set to reveal the diverse character of Phnom Penh, a city that has been teeming with artistic endeavours throughout history and one that is home to a generation of talented young Cambodian artists today.”

Bringing Khmer cuisine to the forefront

Boasting an array of F&B outlets, each with their own accolades, the Rosewood Phnom Penh continues its tradition of highlighting local culture. At the Brasserie Louis, celebrity Cambodian chef Rotanak Ros, better known by her moniker ‘Chef Nak’, reprises a successful partnership for the second time and introduces an inspired Khmer menu. The collaboration presents 10 local recipes that include royal dishes that teems with flavour and depth.

“Travelling to Cambodia can mean much more than its heritage landmarks or its genocide past,” Chef Nak says. “Part of Cambodia’s hidden history and culture can be found in its food. I have made it my life’s mission to give Khmer food a voice and to find its place in the world as food worth travelling for.” By collaborating with Brasserie Louis, Chef Nak is able to showcase to guests an elevated version of a cuisine that she has painstakingly recorded from her own childhood experiences as well as her travels around the country.

Not only do guests get to taste the creations of a beloved local celebrity chef, they also have the opportunity to savour three delicious dishes that were once designed for the Cambodian royal family. The Soup Tea Spey Kdoab (shredded duck breast with a five-hour chicken, beef, pork and duck broth) is a flavourful starter, while the Bay Cha is a comforting favourite of fried rice elevated with subtle spices. The Somlar Broheur Brohit Trey Kray (springy homemade fish balls in broth) is a simple but complex dish. Another must-try on the menu is the Hor Mok, a fish curry that includes an iconic Khmer delicacy known as amok, a fish-paste that acts as a verifiable do-it-all in Cambodian cooked food.

Chef Nak is passionate about sharing her knowledge on Khmer cuisine. “So many stories of the Cambodian people are hidden in its food. Through my cookbooks and strategic collaborations with the Rosewood, I have found a chance to share what can be done with the rich variety of ingredients that can be found in the country’s landscape and elevate the Cambodian food experience. It is my dream to bring Cambodian culinary arts to the world stage.”

Positioned in its cantilevered sky roof terrace, Sora is the Rosewood Phnom Penh’s sky bar that has fast become a beacon of the city’s night life. The 360-degree panoramas, soundtracked by international DJs, are the perfect backdrop to a menu that features more than 20 specially curated ‘eco-conscious’ cocktails that pay tribute to local traditions and ingredients, an extensive whisky library, and a cigar lounge.

This year, the bar announced the Rosewood Bar Series, where Sora hosts a monthly residency for internationally recognised mixologists to introduce their unique creations to guests first-hand. The bar has already hosted The Clumsies’ Nikos Bakoulis, who brought delicious creations from Athens; Benjamin Fabio Cavagna of Milan’s 1930, who provided Prohibition-themed libations; and, most recently, Barcelona’s Paradiso by Giacomo Giannotti, a speakeasy-style cocktail bar that was crowned the World’s Best Bar. The success of these collaborations has set Sora apart from anywhere else in the city, and there is an undeniable sense that Sora is fast becoming the cultural meeting-point of Southeast Asia.

A world-class sanctuary

Since its arrival in Phnom Penh in 2018, Rosewood has been consistently raising the bar in terms of its offerings in health and wellness. Its efforts in providing a carefully curated wellness experience has earned its Sense, A Rosewood Spa the accolade of being Cambodia’s Best Hotel Spa.

For those seeking a city escape, the oasis on level 33 provides intimate relaxation zones, carefully curated products, steam rooms, fitness facilities, a 22-meter indoor lap pool, and the first and only one of its kind, the Pedi:Mani:Cure Studio by Bastien Gonzalez. Guests are invited to try the spa’s offerings that celebrate ancient Khmer remedies that include treatments which incorporate elements of naturopathic medicine that were developed in 12th-century Angkor. The Phnom Penh Signature Massage infuses aromatics from Khmer herbs and spices, and use methods that promote circulation, reduce tension and restore immunity. Be on the lookout for specially tailored retreats that the Rosewood Phnom Penh organises, as it promises to give the guest an opportunity to invest in their wellness journey.

The Rosewood Phnom Penh suites start from US$715++, each with sweeping views of the Tonle Sap and Mekong rivers, and complimentary evening cocktails. The penthouse Monivong House (US$2415++) and Norodom House (US$4815++) accommodations are beautifully designed by BAR Studios Melbourne and come with custom furnishings that effortlessly blend contemporary and classic design.

Rosewood Hotels

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