Phnom Penh's newest nightspot is a strange beast. In the main courtyard is a silver service bistro, reminiscent of the European sensibilities transported east to venues which have secured an almost mythical status, in their own right, like the Hotel Continental in pre-war Saigon.
Next door is a wine shop, stocking vintages rarely found in even the most well connected connoisseur’s cellar, let alone downtown Phnom Penh.
On the other side is the club’s after-hours haven, a 25 metre swimming pool bordered by cushioned seating, ferns and a cocktail bar, giving the aesthetic of a luxury spa on the rooftop of a Dubai hotel and the air of decadence that one would find in the backyard of a dictator’s weekend château.
Staging its grand opening on Saturday night, the gala event was enough to reacquaint even relatively seasoned expats with their long-forgotten culture shock.
A procession of swimwear models carried expensive liquors back and forth around the perimeter of the club, brandishing the bottles as if they were machetes.
As the music hit its crescendo, the models assembled at the shallow end of the pool, disrobed most of what little clothing they were wearing, and marched two by two into the water as if walking into combat.
Armed with champagne flutes, each posed playfully for the photographers as if executing a top-secret mission on the orders of Hugh Hefner.
How this will translate into the night-to-night dynamic at the venue, it’s hard to say, but early signs are promising.
The pool caters for daytime recreational swimmers and those who’ve had a tipple too many in the evening, with excellent change room facilities at the club’s rear.
The open-air courtyards, cheap cocktails, and a well-rounded assortment of snack foods all show the work of an experienced hand in the hospitality business.
For those willing to brave the journey, this place could be the panacea to all their daily ills.
Elyxir is found at #3 Street 466, near the corner of Norodom Boulevard.