The Balé hotel - Phnom Penh, Cambodia
The sweep of monumental temples at Angkor has meant that Siem Reap has always attracted the lion’s share of Cambodia’s high-end luxury accommodation. The arrival of the Lifestyle Retreats group in the country’s capital is therefore timely given Phnom Penh’s more varied attractions.
Cosseted by spider lilies, a sacred Bodhi tree, thick jungle foliage and a traditional Khmer village, the 18 all-suite Balé is a striking modernist compound on the edge of the fabled Mekong River. Its silhouette of red and pink Palimanan sandstone was conceived by Jakarta-based firm Sidarta Sanjaya and Associates as a sequence of long rectilinear corridors and footbridges that slash through white pavilions and internal courtyards landscaped with frangipani and lemongrass.
A 30m lap-pool lined in blue tiles parallels the river’s edge, and is flanked by a bijou dining room in which chef Anton Ventslav experiments with a seasonal Cambodian menu lightly touched with Mediterranean influences.