INDEPENDENCE Hotel is one of Sihanoukville’s most character-filled places to stay. It is set on Cambodia’s beautiful southern coastline on its own beach just a short drive outside Sihanoukville town. The hotel was constructed in the 1960s, abandoned in the civil war years and now restored to its former glory, with a new wing incorporated.
What makes it special?
The hotel was originally designed by a French architect, M. Mondet, who was responsible for many prominent modernist buildings in Cambodia’s 1960s heyday. The interiors were designed by Cambodia’s King Norodom Sihanouk. Adding to the hotel’s retained sense of history and nostalgia is a suite named after Jacqueline Kennedy, who reputedly stayed at the hotel in 1967. The seven storey high tower at the centre of the hotel is a prominent Sihanoukville landmark and resembles a lighthouse. Architectural relevance aside, the beach setting is what makes the hotel a special destination. A stunning stretch of white sand and calm turquoise water fronts the hotel – it is always uncrowded and unlike more popular beaches in the region, doesn’t feature touts or hawkers.
What to expect?
A stay at the Independence is like a resort holiday, with an emphasis on relaxing on the beach or by the pool. Many of the rooms feature stunning ocean views too, with some obstructed only by trees. The seven storey structure is right on the beach, with no other buildings in sight. The rooms are decked out in a simple, neutral style evoking the era the hotel was built, while the newer wing features a more contemporary look. The basic room types are comfortable and functional, yet not for those seeking a trendy or upscale experience. The hotel is family friendly, with a children’s pool and playground, and there are facilities for business travellers and conference groups too. The hotel’s location outside Sihanoukville’s town centre and its party atmosphere means it’s a quiet and peaceful place to stay.
What is there to do?
The hotel features its own beautiful beach, Independence Beach, so swimming, sunbathing and exploratory walks are key activities. There’s also a tranquil swimming pool, including a children’s pool, a fitness centre, spa featuring a massage menu, and several drinking and dining options. Drinks and fresh local seafood at the outdoor Sunset Terrace restaurant is a highlight. You can hire a car and driver through the hotel to further explore the area.
What’s the damage?
Nightly rates at the Independence Hotel start from US$130 for a Superior Room through to $530 for the Premier Pool Villa.