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Cambodia’s past and present combine at Hyatt Regency Phnom Penh

Contemporary meets colonial in this new Hyatt hotel conceived by SCDA Architects and PIA Interior.

Cambodia’s past and present combine at Hyatt Regency Phnom Penh

Once heralded as the ‘Paris of the East’, rapid development over the last few decades has seen Phnom Penh lose much of its historic French colonial architecture. The few villas still left are either falling apart, or have been painstakingly restored by benevolent occupiers. The newish Hyatt Regency Phnom Penh, which opened in early 2021, is a sterling example of the latter.

Hyatt Regency Phnom Penh

Indeed, the entire hotel – designed in an L-shape that gently surrounds the older property – has been built in reverence to a 100-year-old mansion that was once the residence of a Cambodian princess. “From the very start, it was decided that the historic colonial house was to be preserved and integrated as a feature of the hotel,” relates Chan Soo Khian, the principal architect of SCDA Architects. The challenge was in incorporating it into a modern hotel design and connect the disparate atmospheres that the two parts would provide.

The decision was made to transform the villa into the reception area, with guests arriving into old-world glamour, as reimagined by Thai design firm PIA Interior. The old-world vibe continues upstairs into The Attic, a speakeasy-style bar where Grecian columns watch over chequered-tile floors, leather banquettes and select objet d’art in glass cabinets.

Nearby, the 247 guestrooms, including 43 suites, are housed in a modern building that wraps around three sides of the site. The addition features hints of bronze-gold colour, echoing that found in the nearby Royal Palace, while shading fins protect the interiors from the hot Cambodian sun. Having preserved and transformed the villa, SCDA Architects’ next challenge, then, was how to connect it with the rooms.

Hyatt hotel by SCDA and PIA Interior

The architect’s innovative solution was to design a very unique transitional space; a large glass-enclosed atrium that seeks to preserve the old house’s original garden context. “This vast covered space serves as a grand light-filled social space that gives hotel guests the experience of being in a garden space, while at the same time being insulated from the hot tropical heat and traffic noise from the street outside,” explains Chan.

Most of the major public amenities of the hotel, such as the grand ballroom, various meeting rooms, all-day dining restaurant and lobby “are organised around this ‘indoor garden’, resulting in public spaces that enjoy a luxurious residential garden setting within a relatively constrained city site,” Chan adds. However, there are two more spaces that showcase the Hyatt Regency Phnom Penh’s unique location, situated close to the riverside, National Museum, and Royal Palace.

Hyatt Regency Phnom Penh

Located on level 14 is FiveFive, a stylish indoor-outdoor rooftop restaurant and bar with remarkable views of the boats headed down the Mekong River. But when the sun goes down, the well-heeled head to Metropole, an underground bar (Phnom Penh’s first) in which PIA Interior has given it a touch of Parisian chic using trunk suitcases and train booths to exude those fashionable days of French 19th century travel. Through sensitive restoration and visionary design, the Hyatt Regency Phnom Penh has become a modern landmark for the city, inspired by its former title as ‘Paris of the East’.

Photography by Robert Kleiner
Hyatt hotel in Phnom Penh
Hyatt hotel by SCDA and PIA Interior


Hyatt Regency Phnom Penh

Client: Royal Field Development Company Limited

Location: Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Architectect: SCDA Design

Interior Designer: PIA Interior

Project Lead: Chan Soo Khian

Project Team: Jin Oon, Hinn Ong, Kun Tran, Ahnanchana Srichamara, Montarat Kasemsuvan

Landscape Designer: SCDA Landscape

Lighting Designer: Bo Steiber Lighting Design

Acoustic, AV, & IT Engineer: Arch Innovative

C&S Engineer, M&E Engineer & Facade Consultant: Meinhardt (Thailand) Ltd.

Signage: Shrimp Asia

Kitchen Consultant: Tri-Arc Entrerprises Co., Ltd.

Spa Consultant: Lifstyles International

Fire & Life Safety Consultant: Aon Cofco

Builder: Chip Mong Ritta

Date of completion: 2020

Time to complete: 36 months

Site Area: 7,061 sqm

Total Floor Area: 45,051 sqm

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