Even without the magnificent Angkor Wat, Cambodia makes for an amazing travel destination in its own right. The same goes for its mesmerizing capital Phnom Penh on the banks of the mighty Mekong River. The sprawling city is ground zero for ancient history, natural wonders, and a bevy of exotic and opulent architecture. Complementing that is a 21st-century labyrinth of streets buzzing with pedestrians, motorbikes, frenetic markets, and wild nightlife. In addition to traditional culture and legendary temples, Phnom Penh also has a burgeoning LGBTQ scene. In fact, we found not only a number of options for a gay hotel in Phnom Penh but also out-and-about Pride celebrations, even though LGBTQ-friendly laws are still far off.
Despite that, as gay travelers, we felt not only safe but welcome even. Most of Phnom Penh’s gay nightlife lies by the riverside in lively Khan Doun Penh. What’s more, unlike many other Asian destinations, Phnom Penh, and Cambodia in general, is very gay-friendly. This is due to the strong Buddhist culture, which fosters a culture of broad tolerance towards both LGBTQ locals and travelers. Even an LGBTQ magazine, Q Cambodia, was launched in 2015.
What we loved was just how much history and culture exists in and around Phnom Penh. We visited the opulent Royal Palace and Tonle Sap, which are two of the top things to do in Cambodia. But what moved us to tears is the infamous Killing Fields, one of the top dark tourism destinations and a huge part of Cambodia’s history.
Clearly, Phnom Penh is one fascinating gay-friendly destination, so why not visit this Land of the Khmers?
Table of contents
- Rambutan Resort
- Arthur & Paul Hotel & Spa Phnom Penh
- The Plantation Urban Resort & Spa
- La Rose Suites
- Birdcage Boutique
- Mad Monkey Phnom Penh
- Saravoan Royal Palace
- Penh House Hotel
- La Rose Boutique Hotel & Spa
- Home Chic Hotel
- Our Verdict!
- Just So You Know:
Rambutan Resort is one groovy LGBTQ-friendly hotel in Phnom Penh. The hotel sits in a striking villa that once belonged to the US embassy. Today, this extremely gay-friendly and impeccably run establishment radiates a 60s-groovy vibe. The highlight of the hotel is the boot-shaped saltwater swimming pool, which sits in the shade of the original and new wings. We loved hanging out and indulging in meet-cutes by the sun loungers and shaded enclosures beneath parasols. The restaurant, which sits right next to the pool, was the perfect place for us to enjoy both local and international delicacies. We even had complimentary breakfasts here.
Despite its small size, the spa was perfect for some downtime. Finally, the lively bar, where we had a few drinks, rounds up the amazing amenities. It’s a great place where we enjoyed evening cocktails before heading out to explore the city’s gay nightlife, a 10-minute drive away.
Choose from 19 rooms (and a suite) at Rambutan Resort, all of which ooze an industrial-chic appearance. Think Plexiglass lamps, plywood loungers, and stylish poured-concrete floors. While all rooms have all mod-cons and open-plan bathrooms, the Deluxe ones have alfresco bathtubs – so it was natural that we booked that! The Pool View Rooms go further with balcony bathtubs, while Garden View Rooms have private garden terraces with pools.
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Arthur & Paul Hotel & Spa Phnom Penh
Best gay-owned men-only hotel. It doesn’t get any gayer than the Arthur & Paul Hotel & Spa. It’s the first men-only gay hotel in the city and is owned and operated by a gay couple too. The phenomenal spa boutique hotel sits in a renovated 1930s building a 10-minute drive from the gay area. A five-minute drive got us to landmarks like the Independence Monument, Royal Palace, and the riverside.
The hotel is inspired by the passionate relationship between famous French poets Paul Verlaine and Arthur Rimbaud, and it’s evident in its sensuous facilities. Right from the decadent outdoor pool to the atmospheric spa, we felt pampered, rejuvenated, and passionate to the hilt. We even enjoyed a drink in the bar, nibbled on snacks between spa sessions, and hung out in the restaurant. No matter where we went, we saw beautiful people with whom we struck up interesting conversations.
If the common areas are sensuous, then the spacious rooms inspired by 70s designs are nothing less than sexy. Moreover, they’re named after glamorous and famous gay couples or personalities like David and Elton, Domenico and Stefano, and Ricky – give me a Ricky any time! Every room comes with plush beds where we could unleash our wildest fantasies. Besides all other comfy mod-cons, the rooms even have their own minibars and jacuzzis to keep the passion going all night long. Whether you need rooms for an hour, a day, a night, or more, this hotel is perfect.
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The Plantation Urban Resort & Spa
The Plantation Urban Resort & Spa is a marvelous oasis lying right behind the Royal Palace in the heart of Phnom Penh. It’s one of its best gay-friendly hotels in Phnom Penh, and for more than one reason. The resort lies right down the street from Blue Chilli, the city’s best gay bar. Also, all its best historic sights and markets can be explored on foot, making it a great base for us.
The Plantation lies in French-built historic structures and combines that with excellent furnishings and design to make a classic vintage hotel. A huge wooden gate welcomed us into a quaint yet stunning courtyard, complete with six Angkor-style lions and a pond. The walls surrounding the courtyard are full of photographs of the old. A handsome 1930s French villa lies just beyond, which led us to a 1960s Khmer-style structure and a modern block that houses the rooms. Two pools, of which one is open to those staying here, feature lush foliage, loungers, and salas (cabanas). It was one of our most favorite spots to hang out on the property. A small souvenir shop and an excellent spa aside, the hotel has two restaurants serving French and Khmer cuisines. The breakfast buffet by the pool was a lovely way to start the day.
Most rooms lie in the Khmer structure, clustered around the gorgeous pool. The others lie in the modern block and offer fantastic views, which is where we were staying. The former ones are bright, beautifully restored, and feature balconies or patios, while the latter have better views. Nevertheless, they all have modern bathrooms.
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La Rose Suites
Best boutique hotel. Since we were looking for a boutique LGBTQ-friendly hotel in Phnom Penh, we chose the La Rose Suites. The stylish hotel lies on a quiet boulevard right next to the Independence Monument. The Royal Palace, the Mekong, and the city’s gay scene are a 20-minute walk. For us culture buffs, this hotel was a fantastic base.
This place is one of the city’s best heritage experiences and melds modern amenities with Angkorian culture and Indochina aesthetics. The unfailingly helpful and efficient staff is the highlight here and attended to our every whim and fancy. We had the choice of two small pools, complete with daybeds and hotel-provided towels, for lounging on languid afternoons. Or, you could do what we did and head to the spa, which features an excellent range of wellness treatments. The restaurants are the hotel’s highlight and serve a fantastic selection of Western, Asian, and Khmer fare for all meals, including a hearty breakfast.
Even the standard, entry-level rooms are exceptionally spacious, complete with seating areas, four-poster beds, and lots of space left over. Modern amenities include everything from complimentary minibars to flatscreen TVs. On the other hand, lamp stands, and mirror frames fashioned from tree trunks are nice natural touches. Some rooms feature kitchenettes for longer stays, while others have lovely patios facing the quiet street, which we booked. Nevertheless, all rooms come with spotless bathrooms and complimentary one-hour traditional massages.
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If you and your partner are looking for a private gay-friendly luxury hotel in the heart of Phnom Penh, then the Pavilion is perfect. The urban sanctuary comprises four poolside villas from the 1920s-1990s set on a heritage garden compound and was the perfect love nest for us. A smattering of history, two pools in the center, and oodles of privacy made this a fabulous romantic hideaway. Moreover, the Independence Monument is right next door, while the riverfront, Royal Palace, and the gay scene are a 10-minute walk. So, whatever we wanted to do, it was not more than 20 minutes away.
The hotel’s structures are steeped in Cambodian history. The 1920s-built main structure was home to the mother of the last monarch of French-protected Cambodia. The second 1960s-built building was the home of the royal vet, while the last two newer villas are from the 90s. The entire place is sprinkled with black-and-white photographs, Art-Deco curios, and wooden Buddha figurines, reinforcing the heritage feel. We booked a couple’s massage at the small spa, which even has a complimentary massage session per guest. Later, we lounged on the daybeds at the two pools before heading out to a complimentary sunset boat trip on the Tonle Sap River. It was the best way to end a long and productively lazy day! When we felt like being up and about, we’d grab the free bicycles and go exploring the neighborhood on our own. At the day’s end, we’d settle at the poolside restaurant, which provides excellent meals, right from breakfast to cocktails to dinner.
Each one of the 36 rooms has a different layout. While the standard rooms are a bit small, we’d recommend staying in the deluxe rooms, as they even have balconies/patios. Since we were looking for something special, we went for the room with its own private pool. There are four such options, of which one even has a private whirlpool tub.
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Best value for money. The charming Birdcage Boutique is one of the most popular gay friendly boutique hotels in Phnom Penh. If you’re looking for a luxurious experience but with a limited budget, then this boutique hotel is perfect. Besides being utterly gay-friendly, this little green oasis in the heart of the town even has one of the best gay restaurants in Phnom Penh. So, it was natural that we were hanging out here almost every day! Formerly a villa and a hostel both, the now chic hotel has spacious rooms, complete with private bathrooms and seating areas. What we really loved was that the rooms also had safes as well as a full-length mirror, which most hotels don’t even think of!
As we mentioned earlier, the restaurant is excellent and serves everything from Singaporean to Cambodian cuisine. We also loved the fact that they also served gluten-free options, which was very helpful for some of us. The billiards space is one of the best places to mingle with people and make new friends at this hotel.
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Mad Monkey Phnom Penh
Best hostel. We wanted to try staying at the Mad Monkey Phnom Penh, which is part of the famed Mad Monkey hostel chain – and boy, we were not disappointed! This brand is well-known for its lively vibe, and the Phnom Penh outpost is no different. The vibrant place beautifully balances relaxing, meeting new people, and partying, making for a wholesome gay-friendly experience. What’s more, it sits merely 20 minutes from the riverside and gay scene in town and is close to most of the top things to do in Phnom Penh. So, the location of the hotel was absolutely on-point for us.
There are many options for dorms and private rooms at this hostel, all of them comfortably within budget. The dorms are both female-only and mixed, and the smaller dorms have double bunk beds that can sleep two people. For the price, the private rooms are swish, so we mixed and matched the room types during our stay. Besides the rooms, the hostel features a relaxing restaurant and lounge/bar, which are perfect for meeting new people. It was here that we found friends who joined us in exploring the city.
The vibe is social without feeling excessively party-like, and it’s perfect. The highlight is the swimming pool, where we lounged on the daybeds, sipped on cocktails, and cheated with our newly-made friends. If you’re a party monster, don’t forget to check out the hostel’s rooftop events, free punch parties, keg night, beer pong tournaments, and bar crawls.
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Saravoan Royal Palace
We chose the charming gay-managed Saravoan Royal Palace for more reasons than one. Besides being gay-managed, its location is amazing. Not only is it close to the riverside, but it’s also within walking distance of most Phnom Penh attractions as well as its gay institutions.
Coming to the place itself, the hotel sits in a quiet side alley in the art district, which afforded us all the peace and privacy we needed for a good night’s sleep. We especially loved the beautifully leafy central courtyard around which most rooms are built. So, natural light streams in through most of the 20 rooms, all of which feature a contemporary Khmer design. Not only were the beds super comfortable, but also every room had mod-cons in the form of flatscreen TVs and kettles, with the King Suite, where we stayed, even featuring a balcony!
Our days began with tasty complimentary breakfasts in the lovely terrace cafe, complete with Continental, American, French, and Cambodian options. When we had an early departure for a tour, they even organized takeaway breakfasts! And when we wanted to explore the neighborhood on our own, all we had to do is ask to borrow from their complimentary fleet of bicycles.
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Penh House Hotel
Did someone say intimate luxury in the heart of Phnom Penh? That’s what the gay-friendly Penh House Hotel offers. Earlier, this hotel and the Jungle Addition, which is another gorgeously lush property, were combined under one banner, but now they’re discrete. This hotel lies on a quiet lane just north of the Independence Monument. In fact, most of the historical attractions, the riverfront, and the fabulous gay scene are a 10-minute walk. That’s what made this hotel the perfect base to explore the city with the Phnom Penh Historical Guided Tour.
This hotel is contemporary to boot, with huge photographs, tropical plants, and a gorgeous rooftop. At any given point of the stay, you’d have found us lounging at the rooftop infinity pool. It offers stellar views of the city, the river, and the Royal Palace, which we’d soak in with cocktails. When we wanted to unwind, we’d head to the quaint but decadent spa. If you’re the fitness kind, you could get in a spot to work out at the compact gym. We even joined the free 1.5-hour boat tour along the Tonle Sap River, which takes off at five in the evening. But it was the rooftop restaurant that was our favorite as it offered Western and Khmer delicacies with gorgeous views.
We had lots of choices when it comes to rooms at this hotel. The contemporary rooms come with daybeds and balconies, along with a host of mod-cons, of course. In order to enjoy the panoramic views, we chose an upper-floor room.
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La Rose Boutique Hotel & Spa
Another great boutique gay hotel in Phnom Penh is the La Rose Boutique Hotel & Spa. The 10-room hotel lies a 15-minute walk down the street from its sister property La Rose Suites, and was one of our most intimate living experiences in the city. In spite of lying on one of the busier roads in the city, the place is quiet and serene as it’s set back from the road.
Formerly a family home from the 1980s, this redesigned boutique property is a wonderful and rather hidden gem. It melds faux French-colonial panache, Angkor-esque grandeur, and classic Khmer aesthetics with modern amenities, making for one unique stay. The bright, smart lobby and hallways are peppered with paintings and busts, and the staff was ever-ready to take care of just about anything and any of our whims. We especially loved the food in the restaurant, which serves both Asian and Western fare. Of course, our utmost favorite was the superb all-day breakfast. The highlight is the eponymous spa, which has three spa rooms, including one for couples!
The rooms are all flawlessly immaculate and spacious and decked out with four-poster beds and vibrant Cambodian floor tiles. We spent as much time as possible in the spotless bathrooms, which have marble tubs and a bevy of swish mod-cons.
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Home Chic Hotel
We were looking for a gay-friendly hotel close to Phnom Penh’s gay scene, riverside, and its attractions, and chanced upon the Home Chic Hotel. The hotel offers excellent-value rooms hardly a 15-minute walk from the riverside and gay bars in Phnom Penh. If that wasn’t enough, the Royal Palace, Independence Monument, the Genocide Museum, and other sights are also a 10-15-minute walk.
When it comes to accommodation here, we weren’t disappointed. All rooms are spacious and come with all standard mod-cons like flatscreen TVs, kettles, and even extras like slippers and bathrobes. The private ensuite bathrooms are immaculate and modern, ensuring a comfortable stay. We chose the Deluxe Double Room with a balcony, getting a great deal.
For a value stay, the hotel surely offers a plethora of amenities. The gorgeous outdoor swimming pool, for instance, could belong to an upscale boutique hotel. It’s peppered with the same blue-colored daybeds, and we’d sprawl out on them under the umbrellas to relax under the Cambodian sunshine. In fact, we’d spend hours here, sipping on cocktails and drinks from the pool bar. We even enjoyed an evening cocktail before stepping out into Phnom Penh’s dazzling nightlife. Besides a friendly staff, the hotel even has free Wi-Fi and serves a particularly sumptuous breakfast.
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While we love every one of the Phnom Penh LGBTQ-friendly hotels we suggested, we do realize that some hotels with some features are better than others. That’s why we’ve come up with this specialized list.
- Best gay-owned men-only hotel: Arthur & Paul Hotel & Spa Phnom Penh
- Best boutique hotel: La Rose Suites
- Best value for money: Birdcage Boutique
- Best hostel: Mad Monkey Phnom Penh
Just So You Know:
- Phnom Penh’s Pride parade has been around since as far back as 2003.
- The Cambodian government also announced the introduction of a new queer-friendly course in schools called “Life Skills.” It will teach students about gender, sexuality, and LGBTQ+ issues.
Get Some Culture in Phnom Penh:
- Cambodia Pride: Pride brunches, tuk-tuk races, pool parties, another round of bar parties, and dance shows – Phnom Penh Pride celebrations have it all! Pride might have begun as a Western concept, but Cambodians are tweaking it to focus on not politics but rather on changing the heart and soul of the people. One of its most important events is the drag pageant of Reajiny Pride. It gives visibility to the trans community that’s sometimes sidelined during pride events elsewhere.
Best Gay Bars / Clubs in Phnom Penh:
- Blue Chilli: This is the city’s most popular gay bar and the longest-running gay bar in not just Phnom Penh but Cambodia.
- Pride of Cambodia: Also known as Pride of Phnom Penh, this gay bar kicks off Pride celebrations in the city with the rambunctious Street Party.
- Heart of Darkness: This club might not be a gay club, but it is gay-owned, and most nights are unofficially gay anyway. This late-night place has parties that last until mornings on weekends, with the Khmer architecture and decor being a highlight.
Best Gay Saunas in Phnom Penh:
The spa at Arthur & Paul is pretty much a gay sauna at night. Apart from that, Hatha Khmer Spa and Love Spa & Massage have massages for men as well, along with steam rooms, private showers, and a pool.