You’ll see more buffaloes than backpackers in sleepy Battambang. But travellers are starting to arrive – stopping over for a night or two between the Thai border to the west and Angkor to the east. They come for the tranquil rural vibe, for the clusters of crumbling French colonial buildings overlooking the languid Sangker River, the ruined Khmer temples scattered in the surrounding countryside and the thrilling Norry rides on the makeshift-trolley trains of the Khmer Rouge-era Bamboo railway. Here they are: the best places to stay in Battambang, Cambodia.
With a lemon-yellow façade, white shuttered windows, Mediterranean floor-tiles and art deco furnishings in the rooms, La Villa feels like a Provençale mansion transported to a new tropical environment. The rooms to book are the first-floor suites, with balconies overlooking the Sangker River. It’s an idyllic view. At the rear of the villa, under a glass roof with a turn-of-the-20th-century design, is the restaurant: an idyllic retreat for both European and Asian cuisine.
You check in here for bright, modern rooms with large French windows over a tropical garden; also popular is the resort’s big, saltwater pool with jacuzzis; and there’s one of Battambang’s best hotel restaurants (with its own kitchen-garden). With a tranquil setting among the rice paddies. There’s plenty to like about the Battambang resort, but don’t be tempted to walk into town – it’s a dusty 40-minute hike on a dirt road, which is poorly lit (and stalked by stray dogs) at night. Get them to book you a tuk-tuk instead.
A big shout-out to the rooms first. Brilliantly whitewashed, with subtle fawn floor-tiles and dark woods, they’re pleasantly spartan sitting over an attractive pool, decorated with Khmer Buddha faces and surrounded by lush foliage. Because the villa is right in the heart of Battambang town, when you wake at dawn you can step out to see ranks of orange-robed monks in the street outside, receiving alms from locals. It’s a magical Instagram-worthy sight.
Two blocks from the Sangker river and a 10-minute walk from central Battambang, the Pomme is buzzy with life passing through. Settle in and you’ll discover it’s the place to meet fellow budget travellers. Guests sleep comfortably in simple rooms over a lively pub-restaurant serving Khmer amok curries, burgers and pasta, cold beer and (you have been warned) strong cocktails. Hearteningly for those who hang around, there’s live music at weekends.
In the colonial thick of things, Battambang’s plushest boutique hotel is an attractive affair, where ceiling fans whir overhead and guests can get to know each other as they learn to cook local treats. Set in a historical building, the property has just three rooms – decorated in warm tropical colours and furnished with French colonial, Chinese and Japanese antiques, they are the perfect retreat after a night in the hotel’s arty bar, which prides itself on the best selection of wine, artisan gins and French cheeses in Battambang.
Keeping its reputation as one of Battambang’s top boutique hotels, this stylish offering is situated slightly out of town, making the province’s stunning countryside all the more accessible. It boasts 16 guest rooms, a restaurant and bar, outdoor pool, tropical gardens and free wifi.
With 12 guest rooms, this intimate hotel boasts a restaurant and bar area, outdoor pool, babysitting services, a spa and business centre and free continental breakfast. Nestled on the outskirts of town, a free shuttle bus is available for guests.
If it’s bang for your buck that you’re after, then Ramchang Guesthouse fits the bill. The clean and contemporary 20 rooms span double offerings through to spacious family rooms. There is also an outdoor pool, luggage storage and free wifi and parking. All rooms feature a private bathroom and cable TV.
This hotel is essentially a beautiful collection of 10 traditional wooden Khmer houses and traditionally decorated rooms dotted throughout lush, tropical gardens. A restaurant and bar is onsite, as well as an outdoor pool, business centre and terrace. Free tea and coffee is served in the common area, with in-room childcare available at an additional cost. Try the spa for a relaxing Khmer massage between sightseeing.