The House Boutique Eco Hotel in Phnom Penh is a new Khmer-owned accommodation near the heart of Cambodia’s capital city. The hotel’s owners and investors contracted the Agile Development Group to create an accessible, sustainable property that could fit in with the local community. Agile is the same group that brought the wheelchair accessible Mobilituk to Phnom Penh (and to this hotel).
I traveled to Cambodia last month to test out the Mobilituk, and spent 5 nights in the wheelchair accessible room at the House Boutique Hotel. I had a wonderful stay, and want to share with you some of the reasons why I can say that. I’ll of course take a look at the hotel room and its accessibility features.
A Sense of Community
Most of the hotels I stay in are very corporate, with a business traveler clientele. In developing countries, those are generally a safe bet for finding wheelchair accessibility. But the House Boutique Hotel showed me that local properties are paying attention – they realize that wheelchair users travel too!
The hotel has become part of the local community. It employs Khmer people – not Westerners shipped in from hospitality schools in the United States. A small market with all types of wares (food, produce, clothing, drinks, etc.) is located a block away. I was staying in a hotel, yes, but I was at the center of a Khmer community.
The hotel was an extension of that local community as well. Its staff was incredible friendly, and most were sociable. I had many great conversations – too many to count.
One afternoon during my stay, the staff invited me to participate in a birthday party for one of the team members. I was grinning from ear to ear, because life is beautiful. And it was happening right in front of me – and I was part of it. I rarely experience that at other hotels, but it was an everyday occurrence at the House Boutique Hotel. I was a part of the community, and I loved it.
Openness Feeds the Community
The House Boutique Hotel is “open” in every way, right down to its architectural design. Open to the surrounding community, open to the sky and air, and open to guests of all kinds – even travelers with disabilities.
The restaurant and bar area sits alongside the pool, which is at the heart of the hotel’s central courtyard. I had many great conversations there with other hotel guests (including a fellow alumnus of Florida State University!), local members of the community, and of course with the wonderful staff.
The food was great, and the $1 local beers during the evening Happy Hour were a great deal. Due to the open-air design of the hotel’s public spaces, it could get quite toasty in the Phnom Penh heat. I always kept a water with ice, cold beer or cocktail near me at all times! 🙂 The overhead fans also did a great job of circulating the air.
A brief aside on the cocktails – they were positively delicious! The lime/mint cocktail was definitely my favorite, and so refreshing. Although you have to be careful drinking alcohol in the heat – you’ll get dehydrated quickly – you need to try a few of the cocktails in the bar! Filtered water is free, so make sure to drink a lot of that alongside the alcohol.
If you like to cool off in the water, the hotel has a beautiful, crystal-clear swimming pool at the center of its inner courtyard. The pool was used by guests, but also by locals and many expats living in Phnom Penh. Check out this photo:
Lounge chairs and tables (with chairs) surround the pool, and the bartenders offer drink and restaurant service at the poolside. Although there is no mechanical lift to help wheelchair users into the pool, the hotel staff offered to help me on multiple occasions. I declined, since I hadn’t packed a swimsuit, but they had helped guests using wheelchairs before me.
Another thing you’ll notice at the hotel is the greenery. There are plants everywhere! But the hotel’s environmental consciousness doesn’t end there. Much of the hotel’s power comes from a bank of rooftop solar panels. Resources like water are filtered onsite, and distributed in recycled glass bottles. The materials used to build and decorate the hotel were sourced in Phnom Penh, contributing to the local Khmer economy. These things and more make the hotel deserving of the “Eco” in its name!
Wheelchair Accessible Hotel Room #101
The hotel’s wheelchair accessible hotel room is located on the ground floor. I spent 5 comfortable nights in the room, and it really worked well for me. Let’s take a look:
The rooms at the House Boutique Hotel are simple and reserved. That said, they are very welcoming to the guest. The bed, pictured above, is large and comfortable with soft sheets and a plush duvet.
The mattress sits atop a platform base. For travelers using a lift for transfers, this may pose an issue. But for those able to transfer themselves or with minor assistance, the bed should work well as it did for me. The mattress can be pushed to one side of the platform, so that the two edges are even. The height of the bed, measured from the floor to the top of the mattress, is 60 cm (23.6 inches).
There was space for my power wheelchair on both sides of the bed, though the left side was a tighter fit. I scuffed the wall with my wheelchair a number of times on that side (sorry, management!).
Power outlets and light switches are accessible from the bed, with power ports located on both sides and within reach.
Jumping outside of the room for a moment, sliding doors to the right of the bed (also seen in the earlier picture) permit access to the hotel’s inner courtyard. In the late afternoon and evening, I left these doors open to catch a nice breeze and hear the sounds of the pool, restaurant and bar.
The drapes inside the room are pale yellow in color, and are a locally sourced silk.
The photo above shows off the interior hallway of my accessible room. I placed my bag on top of the room’s desk area, which extends several feet more than shown here. I was able to roll easily under the desk.
Other features of the room included a small TV attached to the wall opposite the bed, a refrigerator, free filtered water (with unlimited refills), a tea kettle, remote-controlled air conditioning, and a lowered coat rack in the open closet.
At the end of the hallway is the room’s main entry door, which is opened with an actual key. It has been awhile since I stayed in a hotel with REAL keys! The door swung open easily, but most of the time I entered and exited the room through the sliding doors to the courtyard.
The bathroom was large an open, with lots of great accessibility features. Grab bars on both sides of the toilet – including a fold-down bar on one side – made transfers from my wheelchair very easy. Since this is Asia, there was of course a bidet shower hose for use at the toilet.
The sink (not pictured) is also accessible, with space for the wheelchair user to roll underneath. I had no issues doing this with my electric wheelchair.
The roll-in shower featured a handheld showerhead and water controls within easy reach. I made the following three recommendations to the hotel for accessibility improvements that should be made to the shower:
- Installation of a soap holder on the shower wall, within reach of the wheelchair user.
- Placement of grab bars along the walls of the shower.
- Purchase of a more substantial shower chair or bench.
I am happy to report that the first recommendation has already been completed, and the other modifications will follow. Accessibility equipment is not easy to source in Cambodia, and it almost always has to be imported. For these reasons, it may take some time.
For a detailed description of the accessible room (with more measurements), see this page on the hotel website.
Reservation & Room Rates
If you’re interested in booking a room at the House Boutique Hotel, you can do so via a form at the bottom of their website’s homepage.
The nightly room rate is $55 USD, the same price as a standard room at the hotel. Compared to other hotels with accessible rooms in Phnom Penh, the House Boutique Hotel is an incredible value. The room rate also includes a nice breakfast:
If you have any questions about my stay, feel free to post them in the comments below. You may also contact the hotel directly with any accessibility questions:
House Boutique Hotel
No. 76, Street 57
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
+855 (0) 23 220 884
You may also contact the hotel to reserve transportation using the world’s first wheelchair accessible tuk-tuk. The Mobilituk is an affordable way to get around the city in a wheelchair. The cost of a one-way trip to/from the airport was $10 USD during my stay.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary stay at the House Boutique Hotel in exchange for an accessibility review of the property. I paid for all of my drinks and meals, with the exception of the included breakfast. As always, all opinions expressed here are my own and have not been influenced or approved by the sponsor.