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The compact rooms are like little houses inside the hotel
The compact rooms are like little houses inside the hotel Eli Meixler

Luxury in a box

Cambodia’s first pod hotel spares neither expense nor space

Imagine staying at the top of the nation’s second-tallest skyscraper in one of the city’s fanciest boutique hotels for only $35 a night. The catch is, however, that you only have space the size of a walk-in closet. That’s the concept behind Tama Hotel H22’s compact rooms – pod-like spaces that pack all the amenities of a luxury hotel into five square metres.

Nhim Reasey, general manager at Tama Hotel, said in an email that hourly rates will be offered to cater to the tower’s business community in the near future. “This room is also convenient for the office worker who would like to spare some time during their break to take a rest and shower, or for those who are waiting to [fly],” he said.

But while pod hotels have taken off in glitzy metropolises from New York to Singapore, where $35 may not even be enough for a bed in a hostel, can the concept prove popular in a city where inexpensive rooms are plentiful?

I decided to find out myself last Tuesday by booking one of the rooms, which are located in a row opposite the hotel’s regular units. The first thing I noticed as I ducked inside is that although larger than the Japanese “capsule hotels”, which have guests slip into spaces no larger than coffins, almost every cubic centimetre – from the elevated glass night stand protruding from the wall next to the bed to the foldout desk in the corner – was somehow utilised.

Each room features a bed lofted above a sofa
Each room features a bed lofted above a sofa Eli Meixler

“It is more about the art of putting everything together than about the size itself,” said Reasey.

The bed was lofted above a sofa and reachable by ladder, while a flat-screen TV adorned the wall. I had feared the place would suffer a prison-like feel, but warm lighting and lightly coloured wood paneling kept the atmosphere pleasant. Windows on the view would have held a unique appeal, but the rooms are located in the centre of the building.

As an additional bonus, the wi-fi in the rooms is lightning fast thanks to the multiple routers around the hotel. The shared bathroom was the only inconvenience, but they were meticulously clean and the individual shower rooms were stocked with soap and shampoo.

There is no individual climate control for the rooms, though the central air-con works fine. But be sure to check that the vent, located on the ceiling next to the bed, is open lest you roast. Windows to the hallway reduce stuffiness, and are located well above eye-level to keep out Peeping Toms.

The hotel also has the advantage of being close to two of Phnom Penh’s fanciest bars. Just one flight of stairs away is the Eclipse Skybar – currently the best watering hole for panoramic views of the capital. Adjacent to the hotel on the same floor is the D-22 bar and restaurant, which is extensively decorated with all kinds of antique memorabilia ranging from typewriters to cameras.

I decided to skip on having a nightcap in favour of retiring early. I quickly nodded off; while my long legs barely fit, the bed was comfortable and I slept with no problems.

Come morning, I had a free breakfast of great eggs benedict with coffee in D-22. As I sipped my drink and mulled my brief staycation, I found myself liking the concept of the micro-room but realised I probably was not the target demographic – with my American tastes, I like my rooms large and cheap.

But I was still impressed by the management’s execution and wondered if the hotel would find the niche market it is searching for.

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